If you are familiar with the story of the Hollywood flick Godfather and the Indian epic Mahabharat, voila, then you know the story of Prakash Jha’s new film Raajneeti.
Just take the key characters from Godfather and Mahabharat, change the setting to the current political times in a North Indian city and there you have Raajneeti.
Well, no one ever accused Indians of being the most original folks on Planet Earth when it comes to making movies.
High Expectations but…..
Expectations are always higher from Prakash Jha compared to the bozos like David Dhawan, Ram Gopal Varma et al.
So, does Jha fulfill the high hopes from the film?
No and Yes.
No, because if you are familiar with the Godfather and Mahabharat you can guess how things are going to play out in large part.
Also disappointing is the multiple instances of borrowing from Godfather like the car-blast killing the girl-friend, the hot-headed older brother (Sonny Corleone?), the cool, calculating younger brother (Michael Corleone??) and a body on the bed to compel a reluctant foe to come to terms.
Yes, because the borrowing from the aforesaid Hollywood film or Mahabharat notwithstanding the execution is slick and the acting with few exceptions decent.
With a decent ensemble comprising of Nana Patekar, Naseeruddin Shah (short role), Ranbhir Kapoor, Manoj Bajpai, Ajay Devgan and Arjun Rampal, Jha delivers a watchable film in the 2-hrs 50-min long Raajneeti.
A la the Mahabharat epic, Raajneeti is also the story of political feuding between the children of two brothers Bhanu Pratap (Dhritharashtra?) and Chandra Pratap (Pandu?) for the spoils of the kingdom political office.
Just as victory appears imminent in the upcoming elections, Bhanu Pratap is incapacitated by a stroke setting in motion a bitter, violent conflict between the cousins Prithvi (Arjun Rampal), his U.S. returned brother Samar (Ranbhir Kapoor) and their Machiavellian uncle Brij Gopal (Nana Patekar) on one side and Veerender (Manoj Bajpai) on the other side for political supremacy.
If you want the details, Samar is on a holiday from the U.S., where he’s pursuing a Ph.D on Victorian poetry.
Veerender is assisted by a young firebrand Dalit (lower caste) leader Sooraj (Ajay Devgan).
The verbal conflict quickly turns violent with the two sides not hesitating to knock off family members of the other side in the relentless fight for power in this lengthy Kurukshetra of a film.
Katrina – Ranbhir’s Aunt or Elder Sister?
Katrina Kaif provides the romantic angle as Indu, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, in love with Samar (Ranbhir).
Hey, we thought Katrina Kaif looked like Ranbhir’s aunt or elder sister. Did any of you get a similar feeling?
She’s also the worst performer of the lot, falling woefully short in several crucial scenes: when walking out of the bar after Ranbhir’s character rebuffs her declaration of love; when Indu sees Samar off at the airport; in the two confrontations between Indu and Samar, the first after the marriage proposal fiasco and the and the second after the marriage; when she declares her love for Prithvi; in her first political speech et al.
Even as the movie proceeds at a brisk pace, there are other holes in the story that are jarring.
Indian politics, dirty as it is, is not as violent or lawless as the movie makes it out to be, even in the badlands of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh or Madhya Pradesh.
More importantly, we don’t see the transformation of the placid Ph.D student Samar into the violent amoral politician. How Samar is quickly drawn into the political battlefield, gets down in the mud and starts pulling the trigger literally is hard to grasp. Even if we assume his actions are prompted by love for his brother and anger over his father’s killing.
Hard to swallow.
True to the analogy of Mahabharat, there’s a Krishna-like character, an Arjuna, a Duryodhana, a Kunti and, of course, a Karna.
And you Indian schmucks know what happens to each of them.
Also very disappointing was the confrontation between ‘Kunti’ and ‘Karna’ (when he learns the truth of his true parents) and ‘Krishna’ urging ‘Arjun’ to pull the trigger on ‘Karna.’ Very pedestrian scenes, both of them.
That said, we must acknowledge that we found the photography pleasing and the violence and a few twists do keep the adrenaline-level high.
By the way, Raajneeti is the second film with the theme of a political battle in a family that we watched lately. A few weeks back, we saw the nice Telugu film Prasthanam.
Overall, Raajneeti is not bad.
Just that one expects a helluva lot more from the likes of Prakash Jha.
Raajneeti Box Office – Total Gross Less than Kites