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Great Indian Movies - Satya
May 08, 2006 08:41 AM 5249 Views
(Updated Jun 06, 2006 01:18 AM)





This is miniseries of great Indian gangster movies. This miniseries contains five finest realistically treated gangster movies made in India - Mani Ratnam's Nayakan (1986), Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Parinda (1989), Ram Gopal Varma's Satya (1998), Mahesh Manjerakar's Vaastav (1999), Ram Gopal Varma's Company (2002).

Ram Gopal Varma's Satya (1998) is my all-time favorite Indian movie. It's pretty close to my heart. I haven't seen any other Indian movie that entertained me yet emotionally, psychologically, and intellectually moved me like this movie. Satya is a cry of the gangster and a tragic tale of people who live by gun and die by gun.


Mysterious Satya (J.D.Chakravarthy) comes to Mumbai from nowhere to make a living. Satya starts his life in small corner of cowshed and works at beer bar during nights. A series of incidents with local mafia Jagga, member of Guru (Raju Mavani)'s gang puts him in jail where he meets gangster named Bhiku Mhatre (Manoj Bajpai). Bhiku helps him to get out of prison, takes him into his gang, helps him to take his revenge by killing Guru's man, and gives him a place to live in.

Both Bhiku and Guru started out their career under local crime lord Bhau (Govind Namdeo). Once Bhau turns into politics, Bhiku and Guru separate out their gangs. Guru concentrates on extortion and illicit traffic activities. Bhiku concentrates on extortion, contract killing, film financing, and gambling activities along with Kallu Mama, Advocate Mule, Chander, and Bappu.

In the same apartment complex, Satya meets a struggling singer, Vidya (Urmila Matondkar), who lives with her aged parents. Vidya is completely unaware of Satya's work. Satya helps her to find singing job by putting pressure on music director. A relationship between Satya and Vidya develops alongside his rise in the Bikhu's gang. In the mean time, once great friends Guru and Bhiku turns foe when Guru attacks on Bhiku's gang to take revenge on Satya. Despite Bhau's warning regarding police activities, Bhiku and Satya kills Guru. Bhiku becomes sole successor of Bhau's underworld kingdom.

With the public cry of uncivilized life and high demand for law and order, police tightens up underworld activities. Government makes big changes in police department and gives police commissioner Amod Shukla (Paresh Rawal) reign of Mumbai police along with Inspector Khandilkar (Aditya Srivastava). Amod Shukla sets up "Operation Cleanup" to wipe out the gangsters through encounter killings. As police force of the city vows to wipe the gangs out, human rights marched against police atrocities. To save their lives, Satya, Bhiku, and Kallu Mama kills Amod Shukla.

After commissioner 's murder, police started their atrocities at all time high. In the mean time, Bhau wins the election. As Satya's love for Vidya grows in intensity, becomes tough to conceal his identity from her, he finds himself living a lie. In the tension of living a double life and fear of living life without Vidya, he decides to tell her truth. But Bhiku advises him to relocate to Dubai along with Vidya without telling her truth. Satya sees as opportunity to get out from criminal life. Satya goes home to tell Vidya about his plans and Bhiku goes to Bhau's place for his election celebration. Bhau murders Bhiku as former waiting for the right moment after election. Satya smells police's trap at his apartment, gets news of Bhiku's murder. Angry Satya kills Bhau during Ganesh festival as his revenge for Bikhu. After knowing bitter truth of Satya's life from Khandilkar, Vidya closes door of her apartment for Satya where he finally ends his life being victim of police's attack.


Satya is an intense, haunting, and hard-hitting crime drama of survival in killing fields of Mumbai underworld. As its tagline says "The other side of truth", it's a true slice of underworld life. It takes place in small time gangs where gangsters are just like normal citizens, they have families to take care of, they joke around, fight for small territories, change their alliance with each opportunity, gang wars, encounters, extortions and murders are a way of life, and words like ghoda (gun), peti (lakh), khokha (carore), bhai (boss) are common codes of lifestyle.

RGV's direction is flawless and realistically shot on streets of Mumbai. Anurag Kashyap and Saurabh Shukla's crisp story and tightly knitted screenplay are real stars of this classic. Many of the scenes are true cinematic achievements in realistic moviemaking - Bhiku and Satya's confrontation in prison, Guru's murder on railway station, Bhiku-Satya-Vidya-Pyaari's dinner conversations, Vidya's ring shopping, Satya and Vidya in theater and subsequent stampede, Khandilkar's overview of underworld nexus to commissioner, Bhau's murder at Mumbai's famous Ganesh festival, Khandilkar discloses Satya's reality to Vidya, and Satya's murder at the climax are just small number of handpicked scenes of this finely crafted film.

As far as acting, Satya belongs to J.D. Chakravarthy and Manoj Bajpai. Chakravarthy as Satya is violently introvert mafia. He is kind of gangster who thinks and becomes intelligent strategist in frenzied gang wars. Manoj Bajpai as Bikhu is charmingly extrovert mafia and kind of gangster who does things from the heart. All other secondary star cast is equally extraordinary. Urmila as Vidya is good-hearted struggling singer and innocent girl next door. She unconditionally trusts Satya and breathes life, dream, and fear in his ruthless heart. Shefali Chaaya as Pyaari is lively, homely, and darling wife of Bikhu. Saurabh Shukla as Kallu Mama is wisest guy in the gang and handles the financial side of the gang's operations.

Satya has many similarities with Nayakan and Vaastav. Although basic storylines are similar where individuals experience similar fate in underworld, its difference are what kind of human beings they were and why they reacted against world where they lived. Satya is smart and mature person. He understands world where he makes his earnings is going to swallow him one day or other. He wishes to settle down and tries to get out but couldn't finally make it. He never felt sorry for his actions or decisions to involved with mafias. Raghubhai is naïve, uneducated, irrational person who forcefully dragged into underworld. Once he enters into underworld, he goes crazy and out of control and get lost in drugs, liquor, and prostitution. He never tries to get out from and when he realize, it's too late for him. Shakti Velu is simple south Indian immigrant boy, gets drawn into underworld for his social community. He becomes Robin Hood in disguise of underworld don. He is so involved in underworld that he later finds conflicts with his personal life and mafia life.

Vishal Bhardwaj's music, Gulzar's lyrics, and Sandeep Chowta's background score are melodious and electrifying. Soundtracks Tu Mere Paas Bhi Hai, Sapne Mein, Goli Maar, Badalon Se, Geela Geela Pani, and background themes especially during Guru's murder takes movie to another level.


According to my movie watching standards, Satya is complete movie going experience with great entertainment value, strong epic story, cohesive screenplay, intellectual dialogues, masterful direction, crisp editing, powerful performances, finely crafted characters, outstanding background score, melodious soundtracks, haunting social commentary, innovative cinematography, and impressive art direction, which makes it greatest Indian movie ever. It's truly a special film.

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