Director: Ram Gopal Varma
Stars: J.D. Chakravarthi, Urmila Matondkar, Manoj Bajpai
Plot: A young man named Satya (J.D Chakravarthy) comes to Mumbai from South India in search of a job. Jailed for something he did not do, the once-honest young man meets an underworld boss, Bhiku Mhatre (Manoj Bajpai) in jail and joins his gang.
Danny Boyle is a fan of this film and mentioned that this movie, along with Company and Black Friday served as an influence on his acclaimed hit Slumdog Millionaire. Company was also directed by Ram Gopal Varma and Black Friday was directed by Anurag Kashyap who wrote the script of Satya.
It is one of the very few films to get a full 5-star rating from film reviewer Khalid Mohammed.
Sushanth Singh debuted with this movie in Bollywood. He played the role of Pakya.
The film was co-written by Saurabh Shukla who played the role of Kallu Mama in the movie.
According to the director, the idea came to him after hearing about the death of a notorious gangster. It struck him that the only time you hear about gangsters is when they kill and when they die. He wanted to make a movie bout what happened in between.
Manoj Bajpai had a small role in Ram Gopal Varma's previous film Daud(1997) He was so impressed with his work that he decided to cast him in the lead role for his next film.
In the film, Vidya does not know until the very end that Satya is a gangster. This aspect was inspired by the story of a man who used to live in the same building as one of Varma's friends. The man and the friend would sometimes bump into each other in the lift and exchange pleasantries. Later Varma came to know that the man had been arrested for a murder he had committed somewhere in Karnataka, and had been an absconder all this time.
The scene where Bhiku grieves over Chander's death by abusing him is based on a real-life incident involving Arun Gawli. According to Ram Gopal Varma when he visited Gawli after the death of his close aide, he found him in an angry mood and was constantly abusing his henchman for not listening to him. Varma realized that Gawli was using his anger to mask his sadness.
Kallu Mama's character was based on an ex-gangster Varma met in a bar and whose behavior made him feel uneasy. But that feeling was absent the next time Varma met him and he was very friendly. It was then that Varma realized that the man had created a false persona the first time around and had been trying to play up to an image. Kallu behaves in a similar manner in the film. He puts on a gangster act when a builder comes to see him temporarily hiding the fact that he is a clown in the gang.
Chander's character was based on a member of gangster Arun Gawli’s gang. On meeting him Varma found that he was very sweet-natured and used Gawli's name in every sentence—"Gawli did this, Gawli did that, Gawli bought me a house." His world revolved around Gawli, and he didn't have an identity of his own.
Satya's past is never revealed in the movie. Initially there was supposed to be a flashback that explains his motivations to transfer to Mumbai But Varma decided to leave it to the audience's imagination.
Manoj Bajpai was initially cast as Satya and JD Chakravarthy as Bhiku Mhatre. However JD whose mother tongue is Telugu had trouble with playing the Marathi gangster and could not recite his lines correctly. So the director decided to switch roles. Manoj Bajpai was not happy with the switch since he wanted to play the title character. But his performance as Bhiku Mhatre enjoyed universal acclaim and turned him into a star overnight.
Shefali Shah had worked with Varma on Rangeela. But within two days, she had realized that hers was a bit part, and so she had walked out of the film. When Varma came back to her for Satya, she initially refused. But Varma apologized and even cut out a love scene from the film which Shefali had objections to.
Varma had expected that the Indian censor board would rip the film apart due to the excessive violence and liberal use of expletives in the film. But he was pleasantly surprised when the board passed it without any cuts though with an A rating.
Aditya Shrivastava who played the role of Inspector Khandilkar also provided the voice over for the film.
Anurag Kashyap was only 23 when he wrote the script for this film.
On the third day the unit was shooting the scene where the character played by Sushant Singh, Pakya, demands hafta from Satya. The scene was supposed to end when Satya slashes Pakya's cheek with his own knife. But Varma forgot to say cut, Sushant improvised and continued to scream while waiting for the director's instruction. Varma credits this scene for setting the tone of the film
Mahima Chaudhary was signed for the lead role. While Varma was shooting for the film, his previous film Daud was released which was a box office disaster. That forced him to make some changes to Satya. He added some songs to the film and replaced Mahima Chaudhry with a more established actress Urmila Matondkar
Gerard Hooper, who teaches cinematography at Drexel University, Philadelphia was the cinematographer for this film. Hooper would roam around Mumbai filming the city even when no shoot was scheduled. This added a touch of realism to the film.