20 Years Of Satya: An Ode To Bollywood's Original Gangster Film

Somewhere we'll always remain in debt (however little) to Ram Gopal Varma for changing an incredibly rigid industry forever, with Satya.

Exactly 20 years ago, today, Ram Gopal Varma announced himself as the edgiest director in town. He made a film around Mumbai’s infamous underworld, that grew in prominence following the ’93 bomb blasts in Mumbai.

Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Rajan and the suffix bhai to denote anyone having a connection with the mafia, had entered our everyday lexicon. There was an obvious real estate boom in the city, where builders became the easiest targets for the occasional bounty. 

Varma’s film captured everything and more. It saw the people of the underworld in their element, full of colour. The lingo, the irrational friendships, the twisted sense of humour – everything came to the fore in this tale of ‘making it’ in the one-way street that is the world of crime.

Satya served as a springboard for Varma and his closest collaborators on the film – Anurag Kashyap, Saurabh Shukla and Manoj Bajpayee (as Mumbai ka king – Bhiku Mhatre). It was so new, unpredictable and shockingly sudden in its treatment, that they don’t seem to have aged at all after two decades.

The film is a classic for the way it inspired a whole genre of Mumbai noir, and gave us the gift of Vishal Bhardwaj’s songs and Sandeep Chowta’s splendid background score. It doesn’t matter how many despicable films RGV makes by the end of his career, but somewhere we’ll always express some (however little) gratitude to the man for changing an incredibly rigid industry forever.