An example of Parallel cinema, the film highlights the infrastructure of the Indian mafia organization. Company received critical acclaim at the Austin Film Festival, New York Asian Film Festival, and the Fribourg International Film Festival. British director Danny Boyle cited the trilogy as influences on his Academy Award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire (2008), for their "slick, often mesmerizing portrayals of the Mumbai underworld", their display of "brutality and urban violence", and their gritty realism.
The story revolves around a young man named Chandu (Chandrakant Nagre) (played by Vivek Oberoi) joining the world of crime in the Mumbai underworld to "make it big" someday. Gradually he learns the tricks of the trade and increases the gang's earnings and profits. This leads to his affinity with Malik (Ajay Devgan), the leader of the gang. The film features one cold-blooded murder scene in which Malik and Chandu kill Saeed and his brother Anis in the rear seat of the car on a chilling rainy day. Thereafter Malik goes on a bloody rampage killing all his opponents, to take the reins of underworld in his hands. In this stage, Malik says a prominent dialogue "Sab ganda hai par dhanda hai yeh" (It's all dirty, but it's business).
His rival gang leader and colleague under Aslam's umbrella Sharma, who was in a meeting with police inspector Rathod, is killed off. Inspector Rathod, who once tortured and abused Chandu in jail in early days, is killed at Malik's permission. However, both come at loggerheads during the execution of a contract killing. Chandu stops the deliberate vehicle crash and falls from Malik's favor. The contract was from a politician who tries to use Malik's gang to eliminate a front-runner, a contender for Home Minister's post. The assassination (a staged truck-car collision) takes place in spite of Chandu's emotional misdemeanor since Malik, not relying on Chandu anymore, gives direct orders. The rift between Chandu and Malik widens due to misunderstandings. The Commissioner of Police, Sreenivasan IPS (Mohanlal) uses the rift to bring the mafia under control. Chandu and Malik end up becoming bitter enemies. After Chandu's retaliation of the assassination of his lifelong friend of one of lieutenants Warsi, two factions of Mumbai's once most powerful gang 'Company' went to a full-scale war.
Malik and Chandu killed as many members of each opponent gangs as possible. Sreenivasan, as the police chief of murders due to the war, became criticized greatly. But he and his men knew this war ultimately is shortening the to-do list of his department. Big numbers of button men and lieutenants from the gangs were being killed. The war results in an intense chase sequence shot in Kenya where Malik hires hitmen to kill Chandu. Chandu survives, though he is injured severely. Sreenivasan convinces Chandu to come back to Mumbai and fight his war with Malik by helping the police bring the mafia under control.
In the climax, Chandu kills the politician (the mastermind of the contract killing) in prison. At the same time, one of Chandu's aides, Koda Singh, who swore revenge to kill who went against his friend Chandu, shoots Malik point blank to death in Hong Kong. Chandu and Malik came to a truce but Chandu never withdrew his order to Koda to kill Malik. It's not confirmed that whether Chandu has forgotten to withdraw his orders or deliberately kept that on. After the assassination, Sreenivasan notified Chandu and Chandu became tremendously shocked at this news. Koda Singh was arrested by suspicion by Hong Kong police on that day. The ends shows Chandu spending the rest of his life in prison after being persuaded by the Police Commissioner to surrender.
Company received universal critical acclaim. Alok Kumar of Planet Bollywood gave the movie 9.5 stars out of 10, saying that "Varma has brought his audience yet another innovative and enjoyable film. Company should prove to be a sound investment of time and effort for all those involved."
Arpan Panicker of Full Hyderabad gave the movie an 8.0 rating (out of 10) and commented that "With powerful performances, especially from the three lead actors, Company turns out to be a masterpiece you won't forget in a hurry."
N.K. Deoshi of ApunkaChoice.com gave 4 out of 5 stars, calling Company "a sleek, fast-paced thriller replete with violence and authentic Mumbai lingo."
Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama gave 3 stars out of 5, saying that "On the whole, COMPANY is amongst Ramgopal Varma's finest works. A stylishly narrated tale, the film will win plaudits and reap a rich harvest at the box-office for its hard-hitting content."
Ziya us-Salam of IdleBrain gave a "thumbs-up" rating and said, "Watch Company for three reasons. Varma. Mohan Lal. Vivek Oberoi. Mohan Lal in his maiden Hindi film venture, is a class act. As a South Indian cop, his accent comes in handy. Nothing overboard, everything poised about him. Limited dialogues limitless gestures. Then watch Company for Vivek Oberoi. A star son of sorts - character artiste Suresh Oberoi is his father - never once does he give you an impression that he is making his debut here. His gaunt frame, hollow cheek bones and restlessness go well with his role of a new entrant into the underworld who knows no fear, respects no reputations and lives only on some tacit principles." Director Ram Gopal Varma, apparently referred to Mohanlal as the Robert De Niro of Indian Cinema.
The film was released on a total of 295 screens. It grossed ₹1.18 crore on the opening day and ₹11.08 crore from worldwide in its first week, with ₹6.01 crore from Indian box office alone. In Mumbai, the film opened with 100 percent occupancy, which fell to 87 percent in the second week with a steady collection in the subsequent weeks. The film's first week occupancy was 86 percent in Delhi, Punjab, Hyderabad, and Nagpur. Company grossed $190,000 in its first weekend at the overseas territories and made $250,000 in a week. The film grossed ₹23.76 crore in its final run in India, with a total of ₹25.02 crore worldwide against a budget of ₹9.50 crore.
48th Filmfare AwardsWon, Critics' Award for Best Actor - Ajay Devgn
Won, Critics' Award for Best Actress - Manisha Koirala
Won, Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Vivek Oberoi
Won, Best Debut - Vivek Oberoi
Won, Best Dialogue - Jaideep Sahni
Won, Best Editing - Chandan Arora
Won, Best Story - Jaideep Sahni
Nominated, Best Actor - Ajay Devgan
Nominated, Best Actress - Manisha Koirala
Nominated, Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Mohanlal
Nominated, Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Antara Mali
Nominated, Best Director - Ram Gopal Varma
Nominated, Best Film - Ram Gopal Varma, C. Ashwini Dutt
IIFA AwardsWon, IIFA Best Supporting Actor Award - Mohanlal
Won, Award for Technical Excellence - Best Action - Allan Amin
Won, Best Editing - Chandan Arora
Nominated, Best Director - Ram Gopal Varma
Nominated, Best Movie - Ram Gopal Varma, C. Ashwini Dutt
Bollywood Movie AwardsWon, Bollywood Movie Award – Best Director - Ram Gopal Varma
Star Screen AwardsNominated, 2002:Screen Award for Best Film - Ram Gopal Varma
Won, 2002:Best Actor Award - Ajay Devgn
Won, 2002:Best supporting Actor Award - Mohanlal
Won, 2002:Star Screen Award Most Promising Newcomer - Male for Vivek Oberoi
The soundtrack features 8 songs composed by Sandeep Chowta, with lyrics by Nitin Raikwar, Taabish Romani and Jaideep Sahni.
- "Khallas" (5:00) – Asha Bhosle, Sudesh Bhosle, Sapna Awasthi
- "Tumse Kitna" (4:28) – Altaf Raja
- "Pyar Pyar Mein" (4:51) – Babul Supriyo, Sonali Vajpayee
- "Ankhon Mein" (5:13) – Sowmya Raoh
- "Khallas Remix" (5:11) – Asha Bhosle, Sudesh Bhosle, Sapna Awasthi
- "Gandha Hai" (3:47) – Sandeep Chowta
- "A Shot of Company" (4:32) – Instrumental
- "Malik's Soul" (6:19) – Instrumental
Company is believed to be an almost-true story based on depictions of the D-Company split between Mumbai crime lords Dawood Ibrahim and Chotta Rajan. It's said that the recruitment of Chandu to Aslam Ali's gang by Mallik was almost identical to Chotta Rajan's introduction to Dawood after Rajan's mentor and boss Bada Rajan died in the early 1980s.
Company shows that Mallik's aide Yadav is interviewed by a journalist of Indian news channel Aaj Tak after their assassination attempt on Chandu in Nairobi, Kenya. The theme of this interview is an identical depiction of a real-life interview that Dawood Ibrahim's aide Chotta Shakeel gave to Indian journalist Sheela Bhatt, after an assassination attempt on Chotta Rajan in Bangkok in 2000.
Company shows how the Hindi film industry went into trouble after violent split between Chandu and Mallik. Another interview of Chotta Shakeel which was given to the Times of India describes the intense circumstance inside the Mumbai film industry due to gang disputes. It appears that depiction of a dispute in Company — where fictional film star Naved Khan falls between Mallik's and Chandu's disputing gangs and becomes immensely confused — is a reference to a notable interview when Chotta Shakeel almost leaves a clarification of underworld's finance in Indian film industry.
The role of Vilas Pandit, the closest aide of Malik who appeared to be the consigliere of Malik's gang, is believed to be a depiction of real-life D-Company aide, counselor and Dawood Ibrahim's confidant Sharad Shetty. Company showed Vilas Pandit was shot to death by Chandu in Hong Kong when Pandit went to Chandu's place for an unprecedented meeting; Chandu misinterpreted his appearance as an attempted hit. Real-life D-Company counselor Sharad Shetty, too, was killed outside a Dubai nightclub, by a hit carried out by Chotta Rajan. Ironically this real-life hit was carried out eight months after the release of Company which depicted a similar incident in the adopted storyline.
It gained a prequel D, and the fourth installment in the series titled as Satya 2 was released in 2013.