“The Goodfellas of Indian cinema” is how I would describe the Bollywood masterpiece Satya directed by a maverick named Ram Gopal Verma. Released on 3rd July 1998, this movie proved not only to be a “blockbuster” at the box office but also, over the years gained a reputation of being a “cult classic” among cinema lovers and critiques. It is therefore necessary to analyze this movie to determine as to why this film was successful financially, and is also considered by film buffs as a classic among the many produced in Indian cinema. And so, here is presenting an “analysis” of this enthralling movie revolving around the mafia in the city of Mumbai.

a. The “story/screenplay/editing” of Satya:

Set in the Mumbai underworld, the story of this movie written by Saurabh Shukla and Anurag Kashyap revolves around a man called Satya (JD Chakravarthy) who enters the city of Mumbai to find  livelihood. It is circumstances that then compel him to join the underworld, and form a close bond with dreaded gangster Bhiku Mhatre (Manoj Bajpai). He also manages to fall in love with a girl living “next door” named Vidya (Urmila Matondkar). Furthermore, as the story gradually progresses the “unholy” nexus that exist between these underworld and the political world is revealed. The rest of the movie deals with how Satya attempts to find a way out of this ruthless world to live a normal life with Vidya, which eventually leads to a tragic climax.

Now, apart from a simplistic story this film also comprises of a taut screenplay written by Shukla and Kashyap which makes it extremely gripping to watch. The crisp and real dialogues (including use of abusive language when necessary) by the writers also lends beautifully to the authenticity of the world that the story is set in.

Supporting the flow of the “story and screenplay” of this film is the excellent editing by Apurva Asrani and Bhanodaya, and is a major reason why the film does not drag despite it being 167 minutes long.

b. The “Performances” of the cast in Satya:

“Magnificent” would be the best way to describe the performances delivered by the “motley” of talented actors that were involved in the production of this film. So, be it Saurabh Shukla as the loveable gangster Kalu Mama, Chakravarthy as Satya, Makarand Deshpande as Advocate Mulay, Urmila as the simple “girl next door” Vidya, or Govind Namdeo the cunning gangster turned politician they are all magnificent. However, the standout performers are Manoj Bajpai as Bhiku Mhatre and Shefali Shah as Pyaari Mhatre. Performing as an instinctive gangster who also possesses genuine emotions Bajpai is extremely real, energetic, and is so controlled that never once does his performance seem to go over the top. On the other hand, as his wife Shefali also puts in an extremely “natural” performance and compliments Manoj in all scenes they are together.

c. The “cinematography, direction, and music” of Satya:

“Real and raw side of Mumbai” is what one sees while observing the brilliant cinematography of this movie done by Gerard Hooper and Mazhar Kamran. Furthermore, while watching the movie it feels as if the city has been truly brought “alive and kicking” in front of one’s eyes, and credit for this must be given to Hooper and Kamran.  In addition, the great background score by Sandeep Chowta evokes the sense of “doom” that lies in the story quite beautifully. While the music composed by Vishal Bhardwaj is good as usual with the songs “Kallu Mama” and “Sapne Mein Milte Hain” (written creatively by Gulzar) having become chartbusters.

Above all though, the brilliance of this movie is completely due to the great direction provided by Ram Gopal Verma. From extracting sterling performances from the cast to getting some great visuals and background score, Verma excels in obtaining the best from all departments. The fact that he also gave his actors freedom to improvise on set is what eventually made this movie an all time Bollywood classic, and credit for this must be given to this mercurial director.

Over, the years there have been several Bollywood movies that have been based in the Mumbai underworld but, it can confidently stated that in terms of “realism” and “rawness” none can match the brilliance of this movie titled “Satya”.

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