Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ram Gopal Varma|
|Produced by||Ram Gopal Varma|
|Written by||Saurabh Shukla
|Starring||J. D. Chakravarthy
|Music by||Original Songs:
|Edited by||Apurva Asrani
|3 July 1998|
|Budget||₹2 crore (US$310,000)|
|Box office||est.₹15 crore (US$2.3 million)|
Satya (English: Truth) is a 1998 Indian Hindi-language crime film produced and directed by Ram Gopal Varma, written by Saurabh Shukla and Anurag Kashyap, and starring J. D. Chakravarthy, Manoj Bajpayee, Urmila Matondkar, Saurabh Shukla and Shefali Shah. It is the first of Varma's Gangster trilogy about organised crime in India. The film follows the story of Satya (Chakravarthy), an immigrant who comes to Mumbai looking for a job, befriends Bhiku Mhatre (Bajpayee), and gets sucked into the Mumbai underworld.
Varma initially planned to make an action film but decided to make a film about real criminals after meeting some individuals from that world. He hired Kashyap and Shukla to write the film and opted to use lesser known actors. The soundtrack and score were composed by Vishal Bhardwaj and Sandeep Chowta respectively while the lyrics were penned by Gulzar. The film started with American cinematographer Gerard Hooper who was subsequently replaced by Mazhar Kamran. The film was shot in Mumbai on a budget of ₹2 crore (US$310,000). Satya was released on 3 July 1998 to critical acclaim and was particularly praised for its realistic depiction of the Indian underworld. It was a commercial success, grossing more than ₹15 crore (US$2.3 million) and helped launch a number of careers, especially for Kashyap and Bajpayee. The film also went on to win six Filmfare Awards, four Star Screen Awards, a Bollywood Movie Award – Best Director and a National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Satya has attained cult status over the years and is considered one of the best films of Indian cinema by a number of critics and scholars. Film critic Rajeev Masand labeled it as one of the "most influential movies of the past ten years." It spawned several sequels.
Satya (J. D. Chakravarthy), an immigrant, arrives in Mumbai looking for employment and gets a job at a dance bar. Jagga (Jeeva), a criminal, arrives at the bar and throws beer at his face as he hates its taste. Later, Pakya (Sushant Singh) demands extortion money from Satya after he slashes Pakya's face with a razor. Pakya tells Jagga about this who later beats Satya with his goons. Meanwhile a film producer is murdered by Bapu (Rajesh Joshi) and Vitthal Manjrekar (Sanjay Mishra) on the orders of Bhiku Mhatre (Manoj Bajpayee). Manjrekar is captured by the police during the gate away and confesses Mhatre's involvement to Inspector Khandilkar (Aditya Srivastava) in the interrogation; which leads to Mhatre's arrest.
Later, Jagga makes fun of Satya while he is serving drinks and they have an altercation. Subsequently, Jagga gets Satya arrested on false charges of pimping. In prison, Mhatre and Satya get in a fight and Mhatre is impressed by Satya's courage. He extends a hand of friendship and arranges for his release through lawyer Chandrakant Mule (Makrand Deshpande). Satya is provided a flat by Kallu Mama (Saurabh Shukla) where he meets his neighbour Vidya (Urmila Matondkar), an aspiring singer. In court, Manjrekar denies any link to Mhatre which results in Mhatre's release from jail. Later, with Mhatre's help, Satya avenges himself by gunning down Jagga in the same dance bar and joins Mhatre's gang. Builder Malhotra (Mithilesh Chaturvedi), from whom Kallu Mama had demanded extortion money, asks them to come at a rendezvous point for the money, where Mhatre, Satya and the rest of gang are ambushed. When interrogated, they confess that they work for Guru Narayan (Raju Mavani). Later, Vidya is rejected by music director Renusagar (Neeraj Vora). He then signs her for a project after Satya finds out about this and threatens him. Vidya and Satya enter into a romantic relationship.
Guru Narayan arrives in Mumbai and Mhatre is ready with his gang to kill him but is forced to abandon his plan on orders from Bhau Thakurdas Jhawle (Govind Namdeo), a politician. Jhawle asks him not to start a war since it will affect his elections and asks Narayan to do the same. Narayan reveals that he wants to kill Satya, to avenge the murder of Jagga. Satya tells Mhatre that if they do not kill Narayan, they will be killed by him. They chase down Narayan and kill him. Because of the increase in crime rate, the new police commissioner Amodh Shukla (Paresh Rawal) is appointed. Bhau forgives Mhatre and his gang for their earlier actions. The police then have an encounter with a group of criminals, including Mhatre's gang member Chander Khote (Snehal Dabi). On Satya's suggestion, Shukla is gunned down by his gang to generate fear among the police. In the midst of these actions, Jhawle wins the election in a landslide thanks to Mhatre's help.
Satya and Vidya go to a cinema. During intermission, when they step out to buy a drink, Pakya sees Satya and informs the police. Inspector Khandilkar arrives and orders all the doors locked except one, expecting to apprehend Satya when he exits the cinema through the single open exit. Satya shoots a blank round at the ground, creating a stampede, and escapes with Vidya. After the incident, Satya expresses his fear of losing Vidya. Mhatre tells him that he should settle in Dubai with her where he will arrange everything for them. Later that night, Bhatre arrives at Jhawle's house to celebrate his election victory along with Kallu Mama and Chandrakant Mule. He is killed by Jhawle for disobeying his order and killing Narayan. Satya tells Vidya that he has a job in Dubai when suddenly the police arrive and he is forced to make an escape. Vidya then finds out hat Satya is a criminal from Khandilkar.
Satya arrives at Kallu Mama's place where Mule tells Mama to kill Satya, but Mama kills Mule instead. Satya and Mama plan to avenge Mhatre's murder. During Ganesh Chaturthi at a beach, Satya kills Jhawle and gets injured in the process. They leave and Mama plans to help Satya to board a boat headed for Dubai. However, Satya insists on going to Vidya's place first. Mama waits in the car while Satya walks in and knocks on her door. Vidya refuses to open the door. While they are arguing, Khandilkar arrives and shoots both Mama and Satya.
- Manoj Bajpayee as Bhiku Mhatre
- J. D. Chakravarthy as Satya
- Urmila Matondkar as Vidya
- Paresh Rawal as Police Commissioner Amod Shukla
- Aditya Srivastava as Inspector Khandilkar (narrator)
- Saurabh Shukla as Kallu Mama
- Govind Namdeo as Thakurdas Jhawle
- Makrand Deshpande as Advocate Chandrakant Mule
- Shefali Shah as Pyari Mhatre
- Raju Mavani as Guru Narayan
- Jeeva as Jagga Hyderabadi
- Snehal Dabi as Chander Krishnakant Khote
- Rajesh Joshi as Bapu
- Sushant Singh as Pakya
- Mithilesh Chaturvedi as Malhotra
- Manoj Pahwa as Tabela Owner
- Sanjay Mishra as Vitthal Mandrekar
- Neeraj Vora as Music director Ronusagar
Director Ram Gopal Varma wanted to make an action film, since he had not made one for a long time. He was also fascinated with the city of Mumbai. In the process of planning his film, Varma bumped into some people from the underworld and became fascinated by their human side. After that, music producer and singer Gulshan Kumar was shot dead outside the Jeeteshwar Mahadev temple, Mumbai on 12 August 1997. Varma got to know about the murder by producer Jhamu Sughand, who had produced his film Rangeela. He told Varma that Gulshan had woken up around 7 am and told Sughand that at 8 am he would meet a singer; at 8.30 am he was supposed to meet a friend, after which he would go to the temple and then come to meet him. Varma then thought that "if Gulshan had woken up at 7 am, then at what time would the killer have woken up?" Varma then decided to make a film about gangsters and being a big Ayn Rand fan, wanted to "put Howard Roark in the underworld".
Varma had intentions of making the film with no songs. But, later he decided to add songs into it because according to Varma, "...at that time it was very difficult to make a film without a song since the music companies were almost "ruling the industry" and it was impossible to promote a song-less film". He had a basic story in his mind and wanted Vijay Tendulkar to write the dialogues for the film, since he was inspired by Tendulkars work, specially Ardh Satya (1983). He was not able to do the film for some unknown reasons.
The then struggling actor Manoj Bajpayee auditioned for the role of Paresh Rawal's henchman in Daud. Varma asked him if he had done work in any other film. Bajpayee mentioned Bandit Queen, where he had a supporting role. Varma was impressed by his performance in Bandit Queen and expressed his desire to make a film with him where he had a much bigger role, and told him not to do Daud. Bajpayee asked him to let him do this film and Varma agreed. Following completion of filming, Varma expressed his regret for offering Bajpayee a minor role and promised him a prominent role in his next film. Bajpayee suggested newcomer Anurag Kashyap's name to Varma to write the film. Varma liked Kashyap's Auto Narayan and hired him to write the script. Kashyap was already writing the film but Varma felt the need of a much more experienced writer and called Saurabh Shukla to write but Shukla was initially hesitant to do the film since he wrote the films he could direct. Shukla went to his office to refuse the job, but Varma told him that he wanted to cast him as a particular character in the film and told him the basic plot. Shukla then agreed to do the film as he was "stuck" with the narration. Both went to Varma's farmhouse in Hyderabad and wrote the first draft in a week. They did not do research while writing the film, as Kashyap felt that the psychology of a gangster is "very similar to anybody else".
Varma wanted to cast new actors for the film. He decided to cast J.D. Chakravarthy in the title role, who had worked with Varma on Shiva (1990). He said that he was trying to imitate Verma in the role for the preparation. The title role was initially planned for Bajpayee, but after the characters got more clear to Varma he felt that he needed a person who is more fluent in Hindi for the character of Bhiku Mhatre. It was because Chakraborty was a native Telugu speaker and he was not very fluent in Hindi. Bajpayee was not happy with this decision, since he wanted to play the title character. He still agreed to do the film because he had no other role to do. He based the character of Bhiku Mhatre on a real life person who existed in Bajpayee's hometown, who was a Jeetendra fan and wore printed coloured t-shirts and was short tempered. When Shukla and Kashyap were discussing the name of the characters which should sound real, a office boy entered whose name was Bhiku, when they decided to use the name for a character.
The female lead was first offer to actress Mahima Chaudhary, but she refused to do the film because of its subject matter. Varma then cast Urmila Matondkar, with whom he had worked earlier in two films Rangeela and Daud. Debutant Sushant Singh was also cast in the role of Mhatre's henchman.
The film was entirely shot in Mumbai during the monsoon. The scene in which Sushant Singh's face is slashed by Chakravarty, was supposed to end their but Varma had forgot to say 'cut' and the rest of the scene was improvised by the actors. The film's opening montage sequence when Chakravathy arrives in the city, was given to Kashyap to shoot. He planned the sequence and shot it with the cinematographer. The sequence shot was very different from what Kashyap had imagined because of his lack of experience in shooting. Varma then told him to re-shoot it and taught him "how to communicate with the cameraman".
Bajpayee was scared while filming a scene where he is standing at the edge of a cliff because of acrophobia. The scene took two hours to shoot. The films climax scene was shot during Ganesh Chaturthi when the team had recreated Juhu beach with nearly 500 junior artists. The song "Kallu Mama" was shot by Varma himself, because the cinematographer had failed to turn up on the day of the shoot. It was the last sequence of the film to be shot and the song was mostly improvised; the actors had consumed alcohol. The entire film was shot in 50 days. The scene in the beginning of the film where Manjrekar and Bappu murder a film producer on a busy street was shot on a set. The entire street had been created inside the studio and the vehicles parked on the side of the street belonged to the film crew. The films cinematography was handled by American cinematographer Gerard Hooper, who was recommended to Varma by Kannan Iyer, who had written his earlier film Daud. Hooper would roam around Mumbai filming the city even when no shoot was scheduled. But Hooper could not give enough time, so he left the project after it was thirty percent complete. Afterwards, Mazhar Kamran served as the cinematographer of the film.
The film was edited by newcomer Apurva Asrani and Bhanodaya. Apurva was the promo editor for Varma's earlier film, Daud. Impressed by his work, Varma then offered him to edit Satya at the age of nineteen.
The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
|Soundtrack album by Vishal Bhardwaj|
|Producer||Ram Gopal Varma|
|Film score by Sandeep Chowta|
|Producer||Ram Gopal Varma|
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The soundtrack of Satya was composed by Vishal Bhardwaj and lyrics written by Gulzar. Sandeep Chowta created the background score for the film. It was released by the Venus Worldwide Entertainment label on 3 July 1998. The album had a total of six songs including one instrumental. In November 1998, the background score of the film was released as a separate album, Satya: The Sound. It consisted of twenty three tracks. The vocals were performed by Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Suresh Wadkar, Mano, Hariharan and Bhupinder Singh.
It was the second soundtrack produced by the Gulzar-Bhardwaj collaboration, the previous one being Maachis (1996). The Hindu, commenting on the dying art of film scoring, mentioned Satya when it noted "interestingly (and hopefully) Indian films are just making a start with original soundtracks: Sandeep Chowta's background score for Ram Gopal Varma's 'Satya'". Rediff.com announced that the background score had arrived in Hindi cinema, it said Satya had "set the standards for background score" and that the film's throbbing score "took the audience inside the mind of its characters. Every time a bullet was shot or there were close-ups of actors, one could hear the haunting score, which had a hallucinatory effect on the audience."
|Satya: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|2.||"Tu Mere Paas Bhi Hai"||5:42|
|3.||"The Mood of Satya"" (instrumental)||2:20|
|5.||"Geela Geela Pani"||6:05|
|Satya: The Sound|
|1.||"Birth of a Tragedy (Satya Arrives)"||2:10|
|2.||"Deep Shave (Satya Slashes Pakya)"||1:02|
|3.||"Hit And Run (Producer's Killing)"||2:01|
|4.||"Deathly Friendships (Bhiku Meets Satya)"||2:39|
|5.||"Home Coming (Pals at Ease)"||3:08|
|6.||"Passing The Exam (Jagga's Killing)"||2:01|
|7.||"Hide And Seek (Construction Shootout)"||2:24|
|8.||"Warmth in Cold Blood (Vidya Through The Window)"||2:15|
|9.||"Educating Ronusagar (Music Director Gets A Call)"||3:14|
|10.||"Damn The Cell Phone (Attempt on Gurunarain)"||1:09|
|11.||"Need To Be Alive (Meeting Bhau)"||1:35|
|12.||"Why Listen To Bhau? (Killing Gurunarain)"||5:59|
|13.||"Vidya's Gift (Gang Goes Shopping)"||3:04|
|14.||"Man in the Family (Father's Death)"||3:22|
|15.||"Ask Him To Come Here (Bhau's Patch Up)"||1:26|
|16.||"Please Clean The City (Encounter Killings)"||2:01|
|17.||"He Has To Go (Commissioner's Killing)"||3:24|
|18.||"Triumph And Tragedy (Theatre Sequence)"||3:18|
|19.||"I Can't Take It Anymore (Bhiku Shows The Way)"||4:28|
|20.||"Bhau's Choice (Bhiku's Death)"||1:54|
|21.||"Who Is Satya? (Vidya Knows)"||2:00|
|22.||"Even God Couldn't Help (Bhau's Killing)"||3:18|
|23.||"Death of a Truth (The End)"||8:31|
A test screening of the films rough cut was held immediately after it was shot. It was shown to 60 people at Dimple theatre in bandra, Mumbai. The audience response was not positive as they thought the film was promoting immoral peoples and at the end, they simply die without apologizing for their acts. Some portions of the film's second half was re-shot after the response. Satya was released in India on 3 July 1998, on a commission basis all over the country so that the distributors do not lose their money. The film was mainly targeted at an urban audience. Telugu and Tamil language dubbed versions were released in the respective regional markets. It was later dubbed in English for screenings at international film festivals were Vivek Oberoi dubbed for one of the characters. The film was showcased among the Indian panorama section, at the 1998 International Film Festival of India.
While reviewing the film, the Central Board of Film Certification retained the cuss words and sequence involving violence, as the members felt they were an integral part of the film. The film eventually received an A (Adult only) certificate without any objection. Star Plus acquired the satellite telecast rights of the film and was telecast on 26 December, 1998 when it was still running in many theaters. Several cast and crew members attended the first show of the film in Eros Cinema where it received good response from the audience. The film's dvd was released in 22 September 2006.
Satya opened to critical acclaim from film critics. Shobhaa De wrote in her review: "Satya spoke the language of the streets-rough, crude, brutal. And yet, did not offend sensibilities. It perfectly captured the savagery of what has become our daily reality while also uncovering the final futility and pathos of mind-less gang wars. Khalid Mohammed in his review wrote that, "Satya is a gritty, hellishly exciting film which stings and screams. No one will go away from it unprovoked or unmoved." Anupama Chopra in her positive review mentioned that, "The maverick director [..] has broken all Bollywood rules this time." Further mentioning, "Satya is an exercise in integrated aesthetics. It has a decidedly realistic feel and taut pacing." Suparn Verma of Rediff.com, wrote: "Satya is a culmination of Ram Gopal Varma's work to date. His characters have the intensity and anger of Shiva, and the Urmila-Chakravathy relationship is better tuned version of what he did in Drohi". Another reviewer referred to the film as a "no punches pulled movie mirroring, authentically, the visage of a sick society."
Satya's retrospective reviews have also been positive. Writer-Journalist Jai Arjun Singh wrote: "Ram Gopal Varma shattered movie tastes with it, inventing a new language." He called it his "favourite Indian gangster film". Raja Sen giving the film a five-out-of-five rating, called the film "..a visceral ride up the ranks of Mumbai's underworld, a film that influenced every gangster film after it, and one where all the elements-performances, characters, music, cinematography, action-came together very memorably indeed.
The film was made on a budget of ₹2 crore (US$310,000) and did a total collection of an estimate ₹15 crore (US$2.3 million). It did a "record-breaking" business in Mumbai with first-week occupancy of 85 percent and did a business of ₹1.5 crore (US$230,000). Satya collected ₹24 lakh (US$37,000) from 15 screens in one week in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. It also benefited from the entertainment tax exemption granted by the Government of Maharashtra. It earned a collection of ₹1.27 crore (US$200,000) in its second week run. The occupancy jumped with 97 percent on its third week. The film had a long theatrical run till its eleventh week, when it collected ₹3.27 crore (US$510,000). It did 65 percent business in Mumbai circuit and grossed over ₹9 crore (US$1.4 million) net in Mumbai. Satya was declared a box office "hit" and was one of the highest grossing Indian film of 1998.
Satya received several accolades. Ram Gopal Varma received the Bimal Roy memorial trophy for best direction. It won six Filmfare Awards, including all three Critics awards: Best Movie, Best Actor for Bajpayee, and Best Actress award for Shah. Apurva Asrani and Bhanodaya received the Best Editing while, Best Sound Recording and Best Background Score were given to H. Sridhar and Sandeep Chowta respectively. Matondkar was nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress. Varma also won the Bollywood Movie Award – Best Director for the film.
The film also won four Star Screen Awards including Best Supporting Actor (Bajpayee), Best Supporting Actress (Shah), Best Screenplay (Shukla and Kashyap) and Screen Award Special Jury Award (J. D. Chakravarthy). Bajpayee also bagged the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Satya is known for its realistic depiction of underworld criminals, which has led to multiple analysis. Varma has clarified often that his films do not glorify crime. Omar Ahmed, in his book Studying Indian cinema, noted that unlike american crime films where the success is tied with the accumualation of their wealth, in this film; its about individuals survival. He also called it a "post-modern gangster film." The background of the title character remains a mystery throughout the film. The location of him alongwith other characters within the city is mostly unexplained. In her book Bombay Cinema: An Archive of the City, Ranjani Mazumdar noted that Mumbai in Satya looks like a "documentary montage of claustrophobic spaces" and has "documentary-styled visuals".
The character's in Satya talked in a local Mumbai "tapori" accent. Amitava Kumar in his book Lunch with a Bigot noted that the language or abuse shown in the film "erupts more than the guns exploding". In the book "Locating Cultural Change: Theory, Method, Process", the authors compared the characters of Amod Shukla and Khandilkar to the former police commissioner of Mumbai, Rakesh Maria. Varma had used Sudhir Mishra's 1996 film Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin as a reference point for his film.
Satya is considered by several critics as a modern masterpiece and one of the best films of the 1990s. Over the years, Satya has achieved a cult status and is often cited as a one of the best gangster film of Hindi cinema for its realistic portrayal of violence. It paved the way for many such gangster films of the future. While reviewing Varma's 2008 film Contract, film critic Rajeev Masand labeled Satya as one of the "most influential movies of the past ten years." The film marked the introduction of a new genre of film making, a variation of film noir that has been called "Mumbai noir". It was also a breakthrough film for Manoj Bajpayee. Kay Kay Menon credits his role in the film, as a turning point for other method actors: "If it were not for Manoj’s brilliant performance in Satya, actors like Irrfan and me might still be waiting to be accepted. Manoj opened the doors for us." His performance as Bhiku Mhatre in the film is considered to be one of the most memorable characters of Hindi cinema, along with his dialogue, "Mumbai ka king kaun? Bhiku Mhatre" (Who is the king of Mumbai? Bhiku Mhatre).
Director and music composer Vishal Bhardwaj named his studio 'Satya studio' after the film. Satya also gave its twenty four year old writer Anurag Kashyap his bollywood break. He credits the film for his learning saying: "I learnt everything to do with films while working with [Varma] on [Satya] and I still reflect in my movies what I learnt during the making of Satya." Meghna Gulzar said that in the song "Kallu Mama", she could smell the beer on the character's breath. The film also propelled the careers of its editor Apurva Asrani, since it was his first film. Film critic Paloma Sharma while reviewing Satya 2 wrote that "Satya 2 is as bad as Satya was good". Satya is also credited for starting a transition of films with no stars, high concept and low budget in Hindi cinema. After watching the film, Shah Rukh Khan, called Chakravathy that if "you want to ruin this film, you should replace yourself with me in it. Amitabh Bachchan called Kashyap and praised him. British director Danny Boyle has cited Satya as an inspiration for his 2008 Academy Award winning film Slumdog Millionaire. Satya's "slick, often mesmerizing" portrayal of the Mumbai underworld, which included gritty and realistic "brutality and urban violence," directly influenced the portrayal of the Mumbai underworld in Slumdog Millionaire.
Satya was included in CNN-IBN's list of the "100 greatest Indian films of all time" in 2013,, in the "100 Filmfare Days" series and in "70 iconic movies of independent India" list. It was also mentioned in Rachel Dwyer's book 100 Bollywood Films, where she called it a "masterpiece", and in critic and author Shubhra Gupta's book 50 Films That Changed Bollywood, 1995-2015.
Satya was the first of Varma's gangster series. It was followed by two sequels, Company (2002) and D (2005), and a direct sequel Satya 2 (2013). Company starring Mohanlal, Manisha Koirala, Vivek Oberoi and Ajay Devgn, was loosely based on Dawood Ibrahim's D-Company and received positive response. It was followed by D, starring Randeep Hooda, which Varma produced. The film, however did not received the same response as its predecessors.
In 2013, Satya 2 was released, and was proved to be a critical and commercial failure. Saibal Chatterjee wrote: "Satya, the ultimate guns-and-gangs saga, was clearly in no need of re-interpretation.
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