Ram Gopal Varma had proudly proclaimed a few days back that he has made a lot of technical innovations in his latest movie ‘Department’ and that he had used cameras in all odd places like the carom board striker, coffee spoon, car steering etc. Is ‘Department’ just a hollow vessel with only the aforementioned technical gimmicks or is there some stuff as well? Read on to find out.
In a nutshell, this movie is about a separate department within the police force that is given all the powers to fight Mumbai’s two primary gangster units (Sawatya’s and Mohammad Gauri’s). This department is basically an encounter squad and all the stakeholders in this department have gray shades be it Sarjerao Gaikwad, a gangster-turned politician (played by the Big B) or Inspector Mahadev Bhosle, the leader of this department squad (played by Sanjay Dutt). An honest young cop Shivnarayan (Rana) is also part of this squad and he learns the tricks of the department as the movie wears on. Whether the prime gangsters are brought to task and whether Shiv manages to retain his honesty is the remaining part of the movie.
The only entertaining aspect of ‘Department’ is the Big B’s electric screen presence, voice modulation and inimitable style. The screen sparkles whenever he is there. Rana looks the part convincingly as the rugged cop though his emoting skills are better left unanalyzed. There are blatant changes in Sanjay Dutt’s looks during the course of the movie. He is seen with a baseball cap for the majority of the movie while his hair suddenly appears thick in certain scenes and barren in other scenes. Guess, his hair transplant coincided with this movie’s shooting days. Madhu Shalini looks seducing as the female gangster while her muse in the movie, Abhimanyu Singh is a mere caricature compared to his terrific show in Raktha Charitra. Vijay Raaz is a natural in whatever role he does and it’s the same here too as Sawatya. Anjana Sukhani and Lakshmi Manchu have miniscule parts as the wives of the lead cops
There is a very crude item number in the first half inspired by Ilayaraja’s yesteryear chartbuster. The picturization of this song will make even the young male members in the audience squirm in their seats. Such is the level of skin shown in this song. There are 2 other songs which do nothing to the movie’s flow.
The previously mentioned technical gimmicks with the camera are nothing but indulgences on RGV’s part. It’s just a case of an empty vessel making more noise. The frequent close-ups, jump cuts, pans, tracks, tilts, zooms etc. get to your head pretty soon.
To conclude, Department is a pretty boring movie save for the Big B’s presence. Such action movies need the lead hero to be at his invincible best. But, here Sanjay Dutt is just a shadow of his former self and inspite of Rana’s action hero looks, he is not a known face in Hindi by any means. RGV has not concentrated on the core of any movie i.e. the content and just embellished it with crude item numbers and atrocious camera angles. Such movies deserve the cold shoulder.
Verdict: Another hollow offering from Ram Gopal Varma