The Godfather is a powerful and compelling movie because of the characters' internal conflicts and pain. That said, I'm not a fan of violence or revenge or above/under-the-law "justice." While it's quite possible that the subtitles didn't convey the full force of the dialogue, I had very little sense of what was driving this story. Who is Sarkar and why? What are the nuances of his philosophy? And why does he have such abysmal security outside his house? "Hello, friendly crowds! I'm certainly glad you want to greet and wave to me, the most powerful gangster in Mumbai! It's a good thing I am a wide-open target right here, with nothing but my garden between you and me! I certainly should not build a carport or underground garage."
But the main problem with this movie for me was that it just didn't have enough oomph. The thing I love the very most about Bollywood is that stories and motivations are whole-hearted, but Sarkar really lacked this kind of commitment to being a real homage to or retelling of The Godfather - or for that matter, to being another, different story. For example, contrast the heartbreak moment of The Godfather when Michael closes the door on Kay with Shankar quite easily letting go of what's-her-name who doesn't like his dad only to fall equally easily into the arms of the other what's-her-name who does (strong female characters being a big lack in this film). There was no emotion in this at all. I don't think it was Abhishek's fault, either. There wasn't anything for him to express.
Also, no singing and no dancing, not even in the minor "movie within a movie" plot.
So all in all, a movie that has none of the things I look to Bollywood for. But I still enjoyed going, being in a big classroom auditorium with other people who wanted to see it, other people who laughed when I did, and I can't wait for the next showing (this was put on by the Indian Student Association).
What is with the "Govinda" chant? From my post-movie research, I have learned that this god can revive dead cows and cowherds. I must need to dig deeper because I don't get how that fits with the movie. If Shankar had actually been dead, that would make sense. But he wasn't. He was running through stagnant water and hiding in taxis. Or is it a plea to revive the slumbering don within him? Hmmm. Anyway, that was some spooky music, although it was used too much for my liking.
Aside to all camera staff and camera-related decision-makers: really nifty camera angles and set-up of shots. You stole the show.
Aside to writers: Sonny and Fredo are two different people.
Second aside to writers: excellent sleep-with-the-fishes scene. That made me catch my breath, thinking how awful it would be.
Third aside to writers: excellent use of Hindu pantheon. I'm pretty new at identifying deities, but even I caught Vishnu, Durga, and, of course, Govinda Govinda Govindaaaaaaaaaaa.