Reviewed by: Trinity

"Everything in this world is made of money."

So discovers Chandu, an ambitious young gang leader, as he gets sucked into the Indian underworld. Here, he finds out that the criminal life is not very different from a legit company - do well and you'll be promoted. Fear and respect are powerful weapons.

Copy picture

This world is ruled by the charismatic, fair, but uncompromising Mallik and Chandu quickly becomes one of his most trusted lieutenants, much to the chagrin of Yadav, Mallik's right hand man. Slowly taking over the Mumbai scene, they are forced to expand their business elsewhere - Hong Kong, Kenya - when cuddly-looking police chief Srinivithan starts cracking down. Along the way, there is love and anguish and one other thing that makes them different from the conventions of corporate life: once you've joined The Company, you can never leave.

Ram Gopal Varma's film will undoubtedly draw many comparisons, most notably to City Of God and GoodFellas. Company is a movie that stays true to its Indian roots, whilst also integrating a lot of external cultural references.

From the opening, with TV images of gangland hits and dramatic strings and horns layered over a title sequence, heavy with jump cuts and speeded up movement, it is reminiscent of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo And Juliet. There is the same audacity here, although it is tempered by a more thoughtful analysis of the rules of the crime world and a surprisingly good set of characters. It lacks a little of the variety of City Of God, but, instead, concentrates on the battle of wills between gangster and cop and the lengths people will go to protect their business.

There are times when you realise you are in Bollywood territory - two excellent dance sequences, for instance, complete with the obligatory wet scene, as well as character types, relationships and a familiar structure.But it also stays more grounded in realism than your typical gangster movie. In one particularly good scene, Chandu is chased across the rooftops of Nairobi. When he gets shot, he starts slowing down and when he jumps, the buildings aren't all made of incredibly strong materials. There are also a few brave digs at the establishment, suggesting there's dirty money in the movie industry and corruption in the government.

It's certainly not a subtle film, but, boy, does it pack a punch!

It fits more into the first 45 minutes than most films do in two hours, and never lets up, piling on the tension and the melodrama. Yet it does not burden itself with setting up a cloying happy ending. This is The Company and you're always an employee.

Overall, it is difficult to sum up in any way that is not emotional: Company is exhilarating, exciting and, above all, very enjoyable.

If you've ever wanted to watch a Bollywood movie, but weren't keen on the weddings, this is the one for you.

Reviewed on: 17 Aug 2003
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Gangs of Mumbai, Bollywood style.
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Director: Ram Gopal Varma

Writer: Jaideep Sahni

Starring: Ajay Devgan, Manisha Koirala, Vivek Oberoi, Mohan Lal, Antara Mali, Seema Biswas

Year: 2002

Runtime: 147 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: India


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City Of God