Cast: Vijay, Keerthi Suresh, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Pazha Karuppaiah, Radha Ravi
Director: AR Murugadoss
AR Murugadoss’s stories are usually woven around an overarching central theme, involving politics, capitalism, violence and justice, besides other light pleasantries. Sarkar brings all these elements back once again, but due to discrepancies in character traits and lack of realistic motivation, we do not feel the force of the central plot where Vijay plays the hero of the common man. It’s unfair to expect logic and realism in a super high budget and mass marketed Tamil movie. But deviate too far from expected outcomes and the film just becomes a farce.
Luckily for most of us, shutting off our brains and enjoying a nonsensical wild ride into the realm of the absurd has become our de facto movie going experience. Thus begins Sarkar, where the talk of the town is the much anticipated India visit of Sundar Ramaswamy (Vijay). Being the CEO of one of the largest companies of the world, GL, Sundar is painted as a firebrand who would go beyond boundaries to ensure his corporate competitors are destroyed in the financial markets. Unsavoury employee meetings and cringe worthy ‘research sessions’ on Sundar are kicked off across tech companies in India, fearing that this mogul could take aim at anyone in his crosshairs. In addition, Sundar is also compared to Mongol emperor Genghis Khan, which is problematic as the latter was also known for genocide.
Instead, Sundar returns to Chennai in his private jet (and is followed by his entourage) with the sole purpose of casting his vote in the upcoming statewide elections. The business community breathes a collective sigh of relief, but given Sundar’s transmutational corporate skills, Tamil Nadu politics is in for a wild ride. He reaches his local booth to cast his vote, only to find that his vote had been stolen and cast by someone else! His opponent is a cutthroat politician and CM of the state Masilamani (Pazha Karuppiah), who along with his conniving daughter Komalavalli (Varalaxmi Sarathkumar), is out to monopolise the state by keeping all the power to themselves. Whether Sundar can use his unwavering determination and other superpowers to stop this madness forms the crux of Sarkar.
Subtlety is actively removed. The political climate is instant and obvious to grasp, given the demise of Jayalalithaa and the pessimistic outlook engulfing the state. When 30 minutes into the film, one can easily sense that director Murugadoss has embraced the ludicrous and meme-worthy content on display. Allusions are easy to spot, from Vijay’s conspicuous name, perhaps inspired by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, to Varalaxmi’s character resembling a warped mixture of JJ and Sasikala. One of the executives Vijay meets is ‘Infoware’ CEO ‘Narayana’... After a while, these references get more tiring than amusing, even if you approve of the mind-numbing entertainment.
As it is with every Vijay movie, the story is Vijay from beginning to end. The actor delivers on all fronts and is very bold and visible to the cameras. He goes from being a menacing proposition in bloodshed on the road kind of person to a street smart individual and back again to a kind, empathetic individual in the blink of an eye. Perhaps his intro of smoking a cigarette in slo-mo could have used a bit more thought as it has been done about a thousand times before. Pazha Karuppiah’s character is clichéd and lifeless, and his right-hand Rendu (Radha Ravi) is given the more interesting bits. Varalaxmi is menacing but her characterisation is a mismatch. Keerthy Suresh’s only job is to walk alongside Vijay, perhaps that’s why the protagonist dismissed his secretary early on in the film.
AR Rahman’s music is hit or miss, as a number of songs don’t help the movie move forward. Gireesh Gangadharan’s cinematography fits the bill. Sarkar may be watchable, but there could have been more to the story than broadcasting one man’s political ambitions.