Ram Gopal Varma's COMPANY
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
That the life of crime can be portrayed as glamorous, dangerous, brutal, and ultimately as pointless is something we in the West have grown accustomed to. We have films like THE GODFATHER and GOODFELLAS that reinforce that as they simultaneously attract and repel us.
In Ram Gopal Varma’s COMPANY these stories are told from the perspective of organized Indian crime centered around Mumbai (Bombay).
We see crime boss Malik as he raises a young hood from the gutter (Chandu) to serve as his right hand in brutally growing “the company.” A lot of money is made in the process but the inevitable jealousies (and dead bodies) mount till, eventually, an eruption takes place and an all out gang war explodes.
It all sounds cliched but it is not. Performances are excellent, with Ajay Devgan’s Malik leading the way. He is a cool, polished, calm, and vicious crime boss. He makes the part believable. A little bit of research on the web suggests that Malik and the details of the story are actually based on true events that have occurred in Indian organized crime.
We know from the opening musical performance that underscores the credits that we are in for something unusual; the singing and dancing is downright creepy. Unlike other Bollywood films, though, there is relatively little music in this film in intrusive musical numbers. For example, the nightclub production number is very well integrated with the film and reinforces the synergies that can occur between the worlds of crime and entertainment.
English subtitling is well done and easy to follow on this DVD, and there is somewhat less English in this film than in other Bollywood films I’ve seen.
The most annoying thing about this DVD is the EROS International (the DVD distributor) forced commercials and advertising that occur prior to the start of the film. There is even a commercial for packaged rice for cooking before the movie starts. That plus EROS International’slighthearted extolling of Bollywood that occur in the opening minutes of this DVD are in stark contrast to the serious and at times spellbinding nature of the story that follows.