In"Department", the new underworld action drama, directed by Ram Gopal Verma, most of the “sound” aesthetic calls are wiggled free out of the film between the chronic whipping pans the director calls out for.
And unfortunately, the whipping pans are just the tip of a wayward iceberg. In almost every other framing between scenes, the camera narrows its focus and latches onto objects. Angular close up faces, arms, ear lobes, bottom of coffee cups, and in a vertigo inducing flinging of a Canon 5D (the movie was shot in multiple DSLRs) the camera plays the role of a ball hurled around by children. This nauseating use of cinematic free-speech is a testament of RGV’s technical directorial prowess gone rogue.
Spasmodically cut, badly lit, its highlights overblowing, "Department" is an unrelenting jackhammer on the senses. And then there’s the plot: Mahadev (Sanjay Dutt) recruits a recently suspended cop Shiv Narayan (Rana Daggubati – angry-for-no-reason, as best I can guess from his fixed expression) into his lawless, law-enforcing encounter unit.
Cowboys they ain’t, but the Wild West they know. Criminal bodies are riddled amidst personal agendas, and one sees the conclusion forcing itself out of the bad narrative.
That is, until Amitabh Bachchan’s Sarjerao Gaikwad attaches himself to the picture. Once a criminal, Gaikwad is now home minister, and Department’s lonesome bestowed grace; his presence brings a spark of familiarity to an alien product, and so when he laughs at a “personal” joke (which I guess is a homage of one of his many drunkard scenes), one cannot help but be swayed by his likability.
"Department" is one of RGV’s often inclined criminal-world fetishes, and when AB influences the young tyke and the movie turns a miraculous save — if one can champion the blitzkrieg that long.