After essaying the role of a desi Godfather as Subhash Nagre in Sarkar (2005) and Sarkar Raaj (2008), Amitabh Bachchan is set to return to a similar genre once again. The actor plays the role of a gangster called Sarjerao Gaikwad, who has a change of heart and becomes a politician, in Ram Gopal Varma’s Department.
And this time, unlike his black outfit in Sarkar, the actor will don a white dhoti-kurta. He will also be seen wearing a red scarf, dark glasses, coloured threads and bracelets. All that and a ‘kada’ around his right ankle adds plenty of colour to this Machiavellian character.
“It took Amitji and me just an hour to fix upon the look, the idea for which emerged from a half-hour-long discussion,” says Ramu, adding that the ‘desi’ gear is apt for the part given Sarjerao’s criminal background, and a past that he still has connections with. “I love the bell he holds in his hand and rings while conversing. I remember watching a film in which the tinkling of a woman’s bangles sounded out her emotions, whether it was her calm or anger. The tinkling of Sarjerao’s bell reflects his many moods and erratic thoughts.”
‘No real life references in my film’
Ram Gopal Varma’s Department revolves around the Anti-Terrorist Squad created to eliminate the mafia, and talks about the power struggle within the police department. The film that comes with the tagline, ‘Justice is their crime’ has sparked off endless speculations about the real-life ‘muses’ its principal characters are modelled on.
Amitabh Bachchan’s Sarjerao Gaikwad is supposedly drawn from RJD supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav and former chief minister of Maharashtra, Naryan Rane. And Sanjay Dutt’s Mahadev Bhosale reportedly has his parallels in encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma, with shades of another officer, Daya Nayak.
Varma rubbishes the rumours, “Absolutely not! Yes, Department is about cops in Mumbai and some of the incidents really happened, but it’s still a piece of fiction. I’m not expecting any controversies emerging out of comparisons this time.”
Bachchan who has done the most films with Varma, including Sarkar (2005), Sarkar Raj (2008), Nishabd (2007), Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag (2007) and Rann (2010), in an earlier interview to HT café had echoed his words: “Ramu likes to research his movies and since Department is based on the Anti-Terrorism Squad of Mumbai, he has met a lot of people. But I don’t think my character is inspired by any real- life person.”
Last year, on September 12, he had tweeted, “New film, first day for me…Another friendly appearance.. Sanjay Dutt and Rana (Daggubati) on set!” Ask Varma if Bachchan is doing a cameo and he retorts, “I don’t know if it’s a full or half-fledged role but we shot seven-eight days for Sarkar and in comparison Department required 12 days. So logically I would say the length of the role is more, even though Sarkar made just as big an impact. For me Amitji is the best actor in Bollywood today, his versatility challenges me to create a new character for him every time.”
Department ends a 14-year ‘banwas’ (exile) for Dutt and Varma after Daud (1997). And even without real life references, the director insists Department is unlike anything Dutt’s done in a long time, if ever. He says, “Sanjay has fantastic screen presence but he’s either been doing comedy or playing stylised characters like Kancha Cheena (Agneepath). Watch out for Mahadev even though he’s no Pradeep Sharma!”