By Subhash K. Jha, Bollywood Hungama News Network
Ram Gopal Varma had created a coup of sorts by casting the father-son jodi (Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek) in Sarkar, a film that left people awestruck, all thanks to the power-full performances by the Bachchans. This time round, Ramu has gone one-step ahead to add one more member (Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan) from the Bachchan clan and have named it Sarkar Raj, which happens to be a sequel to Sarkar. So now, let us hear from the director himself.
When is Sarkar Raj releasing?
Either in the last week of May or first week of June, depending upon the matches, exams, vacations, etc. Reports of a delay are utter nonsense. Nothing is being re-shot. If I needed to do it, I would. But that isn't the case with Sarkar Raj. All of us—Amitji, Abhishek, Aishwarya and I are happy with the product.
The film has an added significance because of the formidable cast…
I guess when the film stars the Bachchans, people would love to talk about the product. But they're bitching unnecessarily about Sarkar Raj. Something negative or the other is always being written about it. The fact is that post-production is on. We're ready with Sarkar Raj.
Do you feel that Sarkar Raj has gone beyond Sarkar?
In terms of scale, scope, and span, it goes far beyond the first film. Also it is my first film with a socio-political subtext. And it's character-driven. If you take the Godfather trilogy, they're all character dramas. Sarkar Raj isn't exactly a sequel to Sarkar. In the sense, that it doesn't take off right away from where the first movie trails off.
So how would you describe it?
For the want of a better description, I'd say that Sarkar Raj takes us into another episode… in the adventures of the Nagare family’s life. The plots and issues involved make this a far bigger film than the first one.
Do the Big B and Abhishek have more scenes together?
I wouldn't say more scenes. I'd say there’re more shades to their character. In the first part, the son Shankar got very close to his father because of a crisis. By the end of Sarkar, Abhishek's character took over his father's empire. In Sarkar Raj, they already share a pre-given equation.
Is Sarkar Raj inspired by events connected to the Narmada dam project?
Not at all. You see, any kind film about the concerns of a family for a social cause will have protests and political agendas. But Sarkar Raj has no direct bearing to any of the headlines recently. Sarkar Raj does have political undertones. But it isn't a political drama. At the end of the day, it's about the triumph of the human spirit and a father-son relationship.
What about Aishwarya?
She plays a ruthless businesswoman whose only aim is to make money for her organization, whereas Shankar believes in using the financial resources for the betterment of the people. Abhishek believes in making money for the people. Aishwarya believes in making money from the people. So, Abhishek and Aishwarya are dramatically pitched against each other. An interesting relationship develops over the ideological fence. The romantic angle is secondary. Their ideological conflict is more important.
I needed a very strong actor for Anita's role. Her beauty is so much at the forefront that it makes you forget her talent. It's hard to look beyond her beauty. I took her on as a challenge. But when she emoted as Anita, I was shocked. She's a truly intense actress. She understood the nuances of Anita's character completely. I was taken aback. Her intensity matches her beauty, which says a lot.
Is this Aishwarya's best performance ever?
I can gauge her performance from behind the camera. Only I know how hard it was for her to give life to her character. It's easy to impress audiences with drama and crying. Aishwarya has no props to support her performance. She has brought out her character's complexities without crutches. In that sense, it's her best performance ever.
Sarkar Raj is a family film on two levels. Would the presence of the Bachchans together eclipse the film's intrinsic merits?
I firmly believe that once the audiences get into the theatre, the characters will take over. They won't look for the Bachchans or be disappointed by Aishwarya not being part of the family.