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24 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Another intelligent and incisive look at the gangster life from Ram Gopal Varma

10/10
Author: Simon Booth from UK
13 May 2002

Ram Gopal Varma's SATYA is one of my very favourite Hindi movies, though rather an anomaly in the Hindi movies that I've seen. Much darker in tone than Bollywood usually offers, it's also one of the most intelligent movies about gangsters ever made in my opinion. RGV returns to similar themes with his latest movie, Company, but this time brings a whole new style to his direction that makes the movie stand out even more from the Bollywood crowd. The movie still has a grittiness and realism in its examination of the underworld, but this time it is filtered through post-MTV-post-Wong Kar-Wai sensibilities. I've always found Indian movies to have some of the best cinematography in the world, but never seen one that looks like this. Wide angle lenses, cameras half obscured behind the scenery, bright contrast, quick fire staccato editing... all very modern cinematic tricks, and very well done here.

The Company is in fact an organised crime syndicate, which our hero Chandu (Vivek Oberoi) joins at the start of the film. Chandu is the young leader of a small time gang looking to make it big. He earns the respect and trust of company head Malik and quickly rises to be his right hand man. When Malik makes a bid for power, the two of them have to handle the fallout from the quakes it makes through the criminal infrastructure.

Chandu is a similar character to Satya (who is one of my favourite movie characters, and not just because he has the best beard in film), but a leaner meaner more ambitious kind of career criminal. Nowhere near as mean or as hardened as the seemingly imperturbable Malik, however. Malik takes his business very seriously.

The rise to power of a young gangster is a theme that has been handled on many occasions before, and Company is not vastly different to its predecessors... although it is a good reminder of what hopelessly romanticised popcorn fodder the YOUNG & DANGEROUS series are. With almost no song and dance routines, the run time is kept down to a lean 145 minutes, but this is still plenty of time to build and explore the characters and their situations very thoroughly. Company is quite a subtle movie, the pacing not too hurried and the situations mostly underplayed. This, coupled with the depth of the script and the very stylish camerawork and editing, gives the movie a very sharp feel. Another intelligent movie about gangsters, and an unmistakably cool one too.

Sadly, the movie is let down terribly on one front - the soundtrack. Not all the time, but quite often the music is conspicuously inappropriate. Most irritating is the over use of Mussorgski's Night On Bear Mountain at completely the wrong times, but there are other problems too.

Ultimately, I don't think I enjoyed COMPANY quite as much as I enjoyed SATYA. Perhaps this is because this time my expectation and anticipation was higher, but mostly I think it's that Chandu isn't as sympathetic a character as Satya was. Oberoi plays the character quite well, with mountains of cool but a certain amount of depth... but he doesn't command the screen in the same way that J.D. Chakravarti did. This is probably because his beard isn't as cool.

I did enjoy the movie a lot though... the 2.5 hours pretty much flew by, and the script kept me interested all the way through, never becoming too predictable. There aren't a whole lot of laughs in the movie, or even smiles... this isn't the kind of gangster movie that has you rooting for the heroes as they gun down armies of cops (which, incidentally, the heroes here never do... the violence is mostly contained within the criminal underworld). It's a movie that explores what it really means to be a gangster, and the position of crime and criminals within society. Chandu and Malik are certainly presented as the 'heroes' of the movie, but it never glosses over what they actually have to do to get their power.

India is a poor country, and it's a fact that a lot of the movies produced in Mumbai are targetted at an audience with a pretty low literacy rate. Bollywood movies don't tend to be too challenging to watch, or if they do wish to explore a more serious point it is usually done with very little subtlety. I am curious as to how successful Ram Gopal Varma is in India, as the two movies of his that I've seen have been challenging in a very subtle way. He's obviously quite a box office draw as Company is clearly a big budget production. Filming 2.5 hours of that kind of camerawork/editing isn't an overnight task, and extensive sections of the film are shot on location in Hong Kong, Africa and... Switzerland I think. Well, I have no doubt that enough of the Indian population are perfectly well educated and will have no problem appreciating the finer points of the movie - but I imagine that the overseas market must have been in his sights as well.

Company is a movie that I'd like to see get pushed in the US, as it's a nice reminder that the TRAFFICs and co of the world are not exclusive Hollywood property. Sadly, American studios have frequently demonstrated that its not in their interest to promote this fact, so I expect it will be left with this semi-decent DVD release and word of mouth to spread itself around. My word of mouth is a strong recommendation that people seek that DVD out.

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22 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

King Lear with mobile phones

Author: Keith Hart (keith@thememorybank.co.uk) from Paris, France
10 July 2004

Like any great tragedy, this series of human catastrophes hinges on an objective contradiction, the one Max Weber identified with patrimonial bureaucracy. The origins of impersonal rule lie in the king's use of palace organization to assert his independence from the feudal barons who control the bulk of the people in the countryside. He needs a staff and recruits them as individuals who owe allegiance solely to him. But there is always the problem of distance, since local officials are pulled towards asserting their own independence of him. Beyond that he can't afford to let any of his henchmen get too big in case they go for him. Relatively stable forms of patrimonial bureaucracy depend on working out institutional rules for checking this tendency, such as moving officials around so that they can't develop local attachments or hiving off part of the job as a way of undermining a potential rival. It is this structural contradiction that launches a series of cumulative disasters whose instruments are the personal actors.

The best dramatic example of Weber's principle in action is Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible part 1. But Company is a pretty good instance too, as are most of Shakespear's history plays and tragedies. Etymological note: company means people who eat (bread) together, referring to how commensality is intrinsic to the solidarity of a group of soldiers. Note also that 'don' means both a mafioso and an academic, suggesting by analogy that intellectuals are killers which of course they are, since detachment requires them to dehumanize themselves and others.

So the crux of the tragedy is that Mallik, having plucked Chandu from nowhere (C says "no-one can make it to the top the right way"), becomes too dependent on him and decides to limit his power by giving some of it to Krishnan. This leads to his killing Chandu's friend who can't stand the resulting friction. Then Chandu thinks the politician he eventually kills, Raote, is "not a proper guy" (a remark that one of the weaker soldiers thinks is funny, since it reveals that C believes there is honour among thieves). This partly leads him to baulk at killing the children of the minister. He calls off the contract unilaterally. "If the company can do without me, I can do without the company." And that is that, as far as Mallik is concerned, indeed as far as the logic of patrimonial bureaucracy is concerned. Towards the end of the movie, someone says, in response to the blame being put on Mallik for what everyone eventually realises was a mistake, "whatever's happening is the fault of the business, not one man". But of course, the business can only operate with one big boss or it fragments into impotence (petty feudalism), as in this case. This is why Shakespeare's cumulative exploration of the personal and impersonal contradictions of one man rule ends with the madness and civil war of King Lear.

Morality is always personal and the war of criminal enterprise is impersonal. (One of the theme tunes at key moments is Mars from Holst's the Planets). Chandu embodies the contradiction more than the rest. He is a classic individualist of American westerns and gangster comic strips (Dick Tracy), the loner who doesn't believe in justice unless he does it himself. He legitimates his path because official society is just as corrupt but less honest and in any case the game is stitched up to exclude him. The state can produce a clever and basically decent policeman like Sreenivasan, but he knows that the police can't be effective if they always stay within the law. (S is a great successor to the detective Porphyry who undoes Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment. Indeed he retires to be head of a police training college and is said to be writing a novel based on his experiences with the underworld, called Company...).

Mallik is a political realist ("Friendship lasts as long as it lasts") who understands what he takes to be human universals better than most people who prefer not to recognize them. Saroja, his girlfriend, says "You're really a Satan" and he says "There's a Satan in everyone." Previously, "Sometimes I think there's a monster hidden in you". "There's a monster in every human being. It's just that some people are scared of confronting it." The struggle between individual morality and political realism embodied in Chandu and Mallik leads to the crisis. After its terrible denouement, Chandu hands himself over to the state and tries to make it up with Mallik. "I am about to do what I think is right. if you suffer any losses, don't take it personally." Shades of "Don't take this personal; it's just business" in The Godfather. The hit-man's dilemma is between morality and politics. The law just doesn't measure up, but it is all we have if we are not to be subject to rule by the mob.

"The Company stands on one thing. That's fear." It was built with "three weapons -- murder, money and compromise". One recurrent jingle says "Yes, it stinks, but it's business." Throughout the movie face-to-face encounters are mediated by conversations at distance using cell phones. If the railway locomotive was the symbol of 19th century industrial capitalism, the symbol of virtual capitalism in our day is the mobile phone. The Company goes international largely through use of this new technology: "The telephone became the biggest weapon in the underworld." A dazzling scene consists of a rapid montage of city landscapes with a soundtrack of phones ringing. This is indeed Shakespeare with mobile phones.

A final point. As in King Lear, we should not forget the women. They play a central role in the unfolding of the tragedy as the contradiction between one man rule and the personal morality of his chief henchman descends into bloody civil war and mutual destruction.

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16 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Wow!

9/10
Author: Abhishek (moviebuff81) from Sydney Australia
17 April 2002

Ram Gopal Varma's latest offering 'Company' is probably one of the best Indian gangster films ever made (after Nayakan and Satya). This film is so well done that the viewers feel like they are watching real-life events. And people living in India will know that some of the events are actually inspired by real-life incidents, although the film does not admit it.

Company is the story of two friends - Malik (Ajay Devgan) and Chandu (Vivek Oberoi) - how they build up the 'Company' - Bombay underworld on a global scale and thus establish their supremacy. A small misunderstanding between them turns into a large scale mafia war. The cast in this film is great, a special mention must be made of Vivek Oberoi. The son of Suresh Oberoi (former Bollywood star) is talented and seems to have put in a lot of effort for his first film. I only hope he doesn't get type-casted in the future after such a hard-hitting role on debut. Ajay Devgan fits very well into the role of Malik, a cold blooded don who always means business. Manisha Koirala enacts the role of Malik's girlfriend pretty well and is refreshing. However, the biggest surprise of this film was Antara Mali. She has done a great job as Chandu's wife, and it only goes to show that there is no dearth of talent in the country.

The narrative is well paced, and the viewer never gets bored. Some people might find the absence of songs in the film annoying, but their presence would only hamper the pace of the film. The script is well written, and some of the dialogues are really memorable - for example, when Malik says "To forgive a friend's mistake is an even bigger mistake in the 'Company'". The background music by Sandeep Chowta really complements the plot and he certainly deserves some credit. But more than anything, it is Ram Gopal Varma's direction that needs to be appreciated. He has proved once again that with a good story, an excellent cast and a lot of determination, one can make a memorable film and defy some of Bollywood's age old norms. A special mention must also be made of Mohanlal. He is certainly one of the best Indian actors of all time and although his Hindi dialogue-delivery in Company is quite sloppy, he deserves a lot of praise for making a good effort. His portrayal of an honest, determined cop trying to eradicate crime in Bombay (loosely based on Sivanandan, Joint Commissioner of Police, Mumbai) is very well executed.

The film gives us an in-depth view into the dark world of Bombay Mafia, where only the fittest survive, and how their operations have spread on a global scale. One thing I found intriguing about this film was the role that mobile phones play, how everything can be controlled efficiently by just making one phone call, and how business deals and murders can be executed with, quite literally, just one push of a button.

Bottomline: This film is a must-watch. A landmark in Indian film-making, all thanks to Ram Gopal Varma. An easy 9 out of 10.

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Interesting....

10/10
Author: Puddlemini from United States
9 October 2004

Ram Gopal Varma pulled off a very beautiful film, full with suspense and action, what every avid film fan secretly desires.

Complete with actual facts and thrill it was a fun movie and could probably be compare to Godfather being the marvel that it was.

Based ON the Bombay underworld the actors had done justice to the roles given to them. My favorite was Ajay Devgan because of his realistic was of portraying the characters and he was basically the life of the film in my view...

I can't help but repeat myself but It was that much of a splendid movie

Of you want to go for a fun filled ride watch it..

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

one of the best underworld movies of Indian cinema

10/10
Author: arun-kadavil from India
16 May 2006

This has to be one of the best underworld movies ever made in India. After the disappointment of jungle and mast Ram gopal varma has bounced back to deliver one of his best works. It rivals his own earlier work Satya. Though based on the underworld both films are completely different as his own words put it company is above the underworld unlike satya.

the direction, camera and background score are superb. the cast consisting of Ajay Devgan, Mohanlal and newcomer vivek oberoi perform exceedingly well. After having seen oberoi's later works this performance is easily his best. while Ajay Devgan lives the role to perfection, the Malayalam super star Mohanlal brings a breathe of fresh air by enacting the coolest and most realistic cop Hindi cinema has ever seen. the screenplay written by jaideep sahni is of highest quality. superb dialogues are well delivered especially by Ajay devgan and mohanlal. on the whole a different movie with artistic and technical perfection.

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

One of the best ever movies on Bombay underworld!!

10/10
Author: Odsingh from Champaign, IL
5 May 2002

Terrific performances from Mohanlal, Ajay Devgan and Vivek Oberoi and a slick, stylish picture about the underworld make this movie a must see. Hats off to Ram Gopal Verma. The direction, story line, cinematography - every aspect is brilliant and the movie on a whole is very gripping and fast paced. My personal favorite character in the movie is Mohanlal who plays a commissioner and I guess he is one of the coolest cops ever shown on Indian screen.

I give Company 10 out of 10.

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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

One of the best hindi movies i have ever seen

10/10
Author: kkd470 from trenton, nj
10 May 2002

This is a stunning film, awesome story, acting and music makes this one of the most enjoyable movies i have ever seen - hindi or english. The performances are excellent, with special mention to the new actors- Vivek Oberoi and Antara Mali, who played their parts with such expertise and conviction.

Highly recomended

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

an achieved gangster movie by Ram Gopal Varma

Author: Jeff_Costello
23 August 2003

Where Satya was moving but not very original, Company mixes HK, US and indian influences to look like something unique. The dancing scenes are better integrated than in Satya, the movie is short for an indian movie but more efficient, the story is well written although the idea of mafia as a business has been seen many times, acting is wonderful. But the best thing here is Varma's masterful visual style combining a dirty photography, an editing influenced by Hong Kong cinema, a documentary like visual style to create his own unique style and giving the movie a hot, heavy, dark, dirty atmosphere. It might be edited like an MTV video sometimes, being sometimes too long but although Varma is not (yet?) a director of the scale of Tarantino or Ferrara this movie brings something new in gangster movie. Highly recommended.

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

realistic, slick, gritty, stylish, dark, frightening...it all stinks but it's business!

Author: Chrysanthepop from Fraggle Rock
5 September 2007

'Company' opens with Malik's haunting introductory monologue about the underworld and this is followed by Urmila Matondkar's bloodthirsty sadistic number, the tune of which will echo throughout the film. The song sequence itself, 'Aaja re Mere Gale Lag ja' describes the underworld. 'Company' ranks among one of Ram Gopal Verma's best and one of the best crime films of Indian cinema. A fellow commenter has wonderfully made comparisons with Shakespeare's King Lear. Sahni's writing is of high quality and it just keeps one's eyes glued towards the screen.

There are several words that can describe the film-making. A few that pop up include: realism, slick, gritty, stylish without being over the top, and fine editing. Cinematography deserves special mention as the camera acts as an eye. Use of lighting is remarkable as this gives the city and crime-world a darkly raw look and use of sound effects e.g. the ringing mobile phones is skillfully done.

The songs are thankfully relegated to the background except for one, 'Khallas'. All the songs add to the narration and 'Khallas' is a situational song that takes place in a nightclub, the lyrics of which cleverly describe the events.

Verma also displays the relationships between the characters in a very concise manner. Even though, the main focus is the relationship between Chandu and Malik, with just a few scenes who shows us the significance of the connections between the other characters. For example, just that one scene where Saroja is in bed telling Malik about her mother's wish for them to get married is enough of an indication of their bond.

Ajay Devgan formidably underplays his part. He could safely add 'Company' at the top of his list of achievements. Vivek Oberoi delivers a knockout debut performance. The actor has shown tremendous potential and like Devgan, he too can add this to the top of his list. Mohanlal is adequate. However, I don't quite understand this respect he has for Malik. The guy's a cold-blooded killer (well he has other's to do the dirty work) and Sreenivasan is shown as a good cop so what's the basis of this mutual respect? Manisha Koirala again does what she's best at doing. She gives a subtle but enigmatic performance. Seema Biswas is likable and she naturally gets under the skin of her part. Antara Mali is mind-blowing, and like the men, she too can include 'Company' at the top of her list.

Finally, 'Company' is Verma's masterpiece. He's the one who brought it all together to make the film and tell the dark story of the underworld. One of the best films of the genre.

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12 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Better than all contemporaries(Including Good Fellas,Godfather!)

Author: Anirudh Vyas (anirudhvyas010) from Noida, India
19 June 2004

Seeing main review on IMDb was really disappointing,since i am a big fan of this site,in terms of reviews,But this review i am afraid is ridiculous in terms of comparison making.Comparing Goodfellas with this masterpiece is an insult to Ram Gopal Verma.I think,Indian reviewers or critics are in habit of seeing plagiarization of English movies and therefore they alway go on with Grandiloquence about the Movies that are made with exceptions.I have always been a great fan of RGV films.probably because i have watched English movies throughout my life and i hated the mainstream Genre of commercial films(the so-called Formula films) viz Karan Johar or Shah Rukh tag films.Amidst all this chaos,there emerged Ram Gopal Varma who had the guts and creativity and perhaps technical excellence to compete with Hollywood.The Film "COMPANY" is no exception.It wastes no time,the story is tight.Even the Song-Khallas with which Isha Koppikar gained popularity was a "PUN" or a double meaning song and provided some lightness to otherwise tight plot.The story of "COMPANY" draws inspiration from real Life(In case of GOOD FELLAS,the real life inspiration was not that accurate,Tony De Vito was called a psychic Killer and a Murderer,whose role in the robbery wasn't apparently well known and wasn't established,so as to say.Only Joe Pesci had made this guy more popular.The story as we all know is about feud between two gangsters,namely Malik and Chandu which reminds us of real life feud between Chhota Rajan and Dawood Ibrahim(which Mr. RGV promptly denies in having association with).The story spills out details with generation of thrill in every frame of the movie and manages to keep us up till the end.Narrations are excellent.Unlike Godfather,in which the first half you feel like sleeping,because of lack of any pacy background scores etc,the music keeps us interested till the very end.

Ajay Devgun shows what an actor can do in a film without having to say much.He's given powerful(and yes,better than Marlon Brando) performance.

Vivek A.K.A chandu Oberoi is magnificent in his first role.

And no! Rani Bai's character is NOT a wasteful one.

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