Officer movie review: Even Nagarjuna's no-nonsense approach can't save Ram Gopal Varma's latest film
There’s a popular comedy sequence in Rajendra Prasad, Soundarya starrer Mayalodu where Soundarya tells Babu Mohan, “There are three things that you should ask yourself to understand anything in life — Endhuku, Emiti, Ela? (Why? What? How?).” As Babu Mohan goes on a quest to understand how things work, he often lands in trouble. Nearly 15 years after Mayalodu released, I was tempted to use the same principle to understand RGV’s latest cop drama — Officer. The film, starring Nagarjuna, is about an honest cop who is sent to investigate a case involving a corrupt police officer. In less than two hours, RGV’s version of a cops-gone-rogue plot made me realise that my quest to understand the "Endhuku, Emiti, Ela" of Officer is a futile exercise. It’s more likely to drain you so much that you might as well sit there and wish that the ordeal ends soon.
Let’s get something straight. RGV doesn’t want to offer a well-conceived story through his films and Officer is yet another example. There’s an outline which is so vague that it’ll give you an overall perspective if you try hard enough. In fact, the story exists to give its characters a window to show who they really are. So, we have Shivaji (Nagarjuna), a sincere cop who wants to play by the rules and uphold the honour of the department. And on the other end of the spectrum, there’s Narayan, a corrupt cop with links to the underworld. When Narayan is accused of breaking the rules, Shivaji is sent to form a team to investigate Narayan’s links to the underworld. So far, so good. But in typical RGV’s fashion, the narrative offers no depth and except for plenty of references to ‘system’ (the police department and law, in this case), there is barely a conversation throughout the film which makes you want to root for the characters. The only exception is a monologue by Narayan where he reveals his entire plan to the audience, leaving very little to the imagination. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
So, what is it that RGV offers in Officer? Sounds — lots and lots of sounds. The clock ticks so loudly that it turns into a nightmare soon. The stove burns like an inferno. The fan creaks as if something is holding it back. And there’s a lot of fury during multiple sequences which feels like you’ve suddenly landed in the world of George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. When it isn’t the props that are trying to break free to display their talent, RGV pulls out the next trick from his bag — camera angles. Sometimes, it might be body cam that makes you feel as breathless as the characters carrying it around; sometimes, it’s right next to a woman’s heel to reveal a character she’s just about to meet; at times, it’s probably used as a headgear to give you an impression that a child is observing the adults talk about criminals. It isn’t jarring, but at the same time, it makes you wonder if it means something. The answer is no. They aren’t really intended to add any meaning to the visuals except for showcasing that there are several ways to shoot any scene.
Thankfully, there is some coherence in the plot and you understand why characters do what they do, thanks to expository dialogue. For instance, when someone asks Narayan why he chose Shivaji to be part of the squad, if you haven’t guessed it already, he says, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” Of course, there had to be a reference to The Godfather. Because a RGV’s film is incomplete without it. Oh, there’s a lot of crossing and double-crossing; characters who are so dumb that they’ll do the exact thing which they aren’t supposed to do because vengeance makes you go crazy.
The only thrill of watching Officer comes in the form of its lead actor Nagarjuna, who keeps the pack together. His no-nonsense approach adds a layer of seriousness to the story; however, there’s barely any drama or dramatic moments that are likely to shock you. The actor who played the villain is too loud at times, but then it’s not his fault. RGV erases every possible opportunity to make his characterisation interesting which could have left us guessing what he’s going to do next. The film also gets unnecessarily violent in an attempt to justify the ‘cops are scary’ tagline, and it’s a million dollar question why everyone keeps hamming so much.
In the middle of the film, there’s a scene where Shivaji’s parents are worried about his safety and they beg him to come back. The camera slowly zooms in, and on the table, there are a dozen glasses neatly arranged on either side of the camera. And right in the middle of it is a lone tomato. It leaves you wondering, why were the glasses arranged in that manner and why did they leave out just one tomato on the table. That probably is a metaphor for the act of watching Officer. The lone tomato is clueless about its existence and has no idea why it had to be there in that frame. Every film has something to say in the end, and Officer too draws our attention to a line which the villain says, “Inkentha torture peduthav, champesey (How long will you torture me? Kill me, now!).” You get the drift, right? But hey, the good part is Officer isn’t really an assault on our senses. For all its drawbacks, there’s a story worth telling. RGV might have ignored it, but you can go on a wild goose chase to find it with three simple questions - Endhuku? Emiti? Ela?
Updated Date: Jun 01, 2018 15:46 PM