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The Don of Time

Friday, May 12, 2017
By Deepa Gahlot

It rarely happens in Bollywood that a film has a third part, Ram Gopal Varma, going through a bad patch, actually managed to get Amitabh Bachchan to appear in the third 'Sarkar' film, after having the star in some of the worst movies in his filmography.

When Bachchan first played Subhash Nagre in 'Sarkar', it had created quite a stir, because the character was supposed to be modelled after a real–life politician. He was reportedly shown the film in advance to pre-empt any problems later. There need not have been any fears on that score, because the man in the film, called 'Sarkar' by his devotees, was a don and demi-god rolled into one. The kinda man who could do anything, because he unofficially ruled the city.

The inspiration for the character - like so many others - was 'The Godfather', Mario Puzo’s character and turned into a three-movie franchise by Francis Ford Coppola. Varma must have thought if Hollywood could do it, so can he.

The mythology of the Don and the Italian Mafia created by Puzo was so intriguing compelling and romantic, that me-too writers and filmmakers sprouted by the dozen. Even Mani Ratnam took a bash at it with 'Nayakan', which was based on the life of a real life don.

Over the years, Bollywood was so enamoured by the gangsters, that every killer, hitman, and smuggler got a film dedicated to him – and with Godmother and now Haseena - her also.

What had appealed to the world of readers and film viewers about the Godfather films (they were stunningly made too) was that the focus of the Don was on family, friendship, loyalty and the concept of honour among thieves. He may thrash a rapist within an inch of his life, on the request of the girl’s father, or kill when need be, bribe cops and politicians, and commit all manner of crime, but he does not agree to get into the business of drugs, because he thinks it is evil and ruin generations.

It is that glow with which Varma bathes his black-clad, scowling Sarkar, and Amitabh Bachchan has carried the role with elan. It is the kind of role, every actor wants to do- the all-powerful gangster. Even Shah Rukh Khan needed to break his romantic image with 'Raees'.

And there are more real life stories dotting the police files…the movie Don is not going to fade away for a long time.

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