Raajneeti Review – Prakash Jha’s Khichdi of Godfather & Mahabharat

Raajneeti Box Office – Total Gross Less than Kites

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 Mahabharatย  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,ย  Ajay Devgan and Arjun Rampal, Jha delivers a watchable film in the 2-hrs 50-min long Raajneeti.

Mahabharat, Redux
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 Samarย  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.

Related Stories:
Raajneeti Box Office – Total Gross Less than Kites

17 Responses to "Raajneeti Review – Prakash Jha’s Khichdi of Godfather & Mahabharat"

  1. abhi220   June 4, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Thanks for the review.

    Planning to watch this weekend.

    Since the forecast shows rain not many options too.

    We cannot blame Jha for casting Katrina since he had a very short list.

    how about kareena, priyanka chopra, deepika padukone or may be an import like Barbara Mori ๐Ÿ™‚

    btw are you planning to watch Harry Brown? nothing new about the story, but I liked michael caine.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    1. You write: how about….priyanka chopra,

    Priyanka Chopra?

    OMG, if that weirdo had been picked by Prakash Jha we’d have committed harakiri.

    2. Harry Brown is on our list. Just been too tied up with other stuff.

  2. sam   June 5, 2010 at 1:36 am

    Expected a So-So Review from you and got it.

    Minimum Ratings by media is 3/5. Btw, what do u make of the Jana Gana Mana controversy.

    Katrina is the most watchable among current heroines.

    See Raavanan with Zero expectations and you might find it okay too.(Not Raavan)

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    In Incredible India, people have too much time. Protest, morcha, bandh, hartal et al all the time. ๐Ÿ™

  3. rajesh jagetia   June 5, 2010 at 2:29 am

    Well, contrary to belief that political gener films do not open good and have to rely on wom for success, this film opened on a very good note in India, partly because of popularility of Ranbeer and Kat among youth.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Let’s see if the initial momentum can be sustained.

  4. Aswin_Kini   June 5, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Well, Indian movies were never known for originality! Here original filmmakers meet their deadend in the industry even before they begin!! You see sire, for the sole reason of survival, you need something called MONEY. While people here do appreciate good films, creative films are either shown the door or appreciated underwhelmingly.

    While there are lakhs of idiots to watch crappy crappy and more crappier movies of Vijay, Ajith, Kamal, Rajini, etc, there are those who still welcome movies like Subramaniapuram, nadodigal, Autograph, Kalloori, and the latest tragic film “ANGAADI THERU”.

    While it is true that Indians also appreciate good cinema, producers cannot survive on such films alone. That’s why they justify their crappy films by using MASS HEROES (Bullshit idiots) like Vijay, Ajith, and now Surya. Unless these blind idiots stop following the minimum guarantee formula, you and I will have to be content with their bullshit stuff.

    Atleast, Indian music is good! Be happy that there is something to enjoy here! That’s what we do after years and years of searching for perfection in anything Indian.

    Take your bottle of Vodka/Gin/Whisky, some Indian mixture/Chicken piece and listen to this beautiful song.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    1. We agree that minimum guarantee will play havoc/is already playing havoc in Tamil Nadu.

    2. Watching your video link. Moving.

    3. We will send you an e-mail in a little while to the address you used while registering with the SI blog regarding a proposal. 10:22PM ET (i.e. 7:52AM IST Sunday).

  5. ravihyd84   June 5, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Which movie did you like most: rajneeti, vedam or prasthanam?

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    1. Prasthanam
    2. Raajneeti
    3. Vedam

  6. chennaiarun2007   June 6, 2010 at 9:03 am



    Read the story of the Jennifer Aniston starrer “Love Happens”.Seemed pretty decent.Having any idea to watch the film?


    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Just read the Wiki profile of Love Happens.

    RT rating of 18% and Jennifer Aniston…like watching Drona with Priyanka Chopra. ๐Ÿ™

  7. 1984moviefan   June 6, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    Have you seen any of Anurag Kashyap’s movies. In my opinion he is one of India’s best directors. Dev D,Black friday and Gulaal are all fine movies.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    You write: Have you seen any of Anurag Kashyap’s movies.

    Are you spying on us.

    We just finished (re)watching Dev D a second time. 12:37AM. Look for the Dev D review later today.

    BTW, we’ve also seen Black Friday.

  8. vjcool   June 7, 2010 at 3:54 am

    u havent yet reviewed Dev D…??, loved it, the best of the Devdas adaptations

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    We’ll try to have the Dev D review up today.

  9. sam   June 8, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Saw the movie yesterday. Was superb!

    Everyone was good, especially Ranbir Kapur. Was better than any hindi movie in last 1 year or so.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Ranbir Kapoor is likely the most talented actor of the less-than-40 generation.

  10. sganeshkumar1989   June 9, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Works as an entertainer, more of an emotional drama,which succeeds in pumping the adrenaline levels through-out the film,but not provides a proper-deeper view of how things work in a Political family/party or the campaigning style (On this front it’s more a bit shallow,just gives a bit bird’s eye-view kinda thing-like it’s true Lot’s of factional violence occur quite frequently to my knowledge in Rayalaseema and Krishna-Guntur regions of A.P and in Parts of Tamil Nadu,but they involved only to local MLA-MP levels like Paritala Ravi’s murder in 2005;but never a key Party president/CM candidate himself;as the latter will be tough to cover up.And is it so easy to get a party vote-base,Common symbol from E.C.,cadre so fast in just 1-month span?

    By no means,were Pratap family a monopoly in that state politics,how is it that a mere splinter party of a major party can take on both the major party and other bigger parties in the state? :P)

    Prakash Jha succeeded in combining Mahabharata and Godfather and gave it a ‘Political thriller’ touch,but if he really wanted to pay a homage to them;he should have tried something like Shashi Tharoor’s ‘Great Indian Novel'(Where he successfully drew parallels with Political figures of 1915-77 era with those of Mahabharata characters and sprinkled it with great doses of humor.)-

    I believe he should have worked hard on the script by properly analysing the political careers of many leaders,observe the trends and factors which resulted in their ups and downs,and a look a the election result patterns in some of these ‘family-politics’ dominated states.;perhaps that could have given him more ideas to help his film mirror the political situation in India. Off-course,one might say it’ll take several months to write one script,if you try to follow above things;but then making movie is not a joke and in-fact many Hollywood movies are fine only because,the film-maker and the script-writers work long on writing and re-writing to get the right script.
    Thus,the script just looks sketchy and it’s lazy work done on that front.
    The advantage is the characters are well-etched for a family drama and for the most part,right actors have been cast who do perfect justice.(Ajay devgn-Well done,Nana Patekar-Fine and Ranbir is definitely the next big thing,he will emerge as better actor and bigger star in future.)

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    1. Shoddy script or not, the movie seems to be resonating well with people if Indian media reports are anything to go by.

    2. The Great Indian Novel was one hilarious, satirical novel. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it some 20+ years back.

    3. Maybe, would-be gangsters, thugs and politicians should first pursue a Ph.D in Victorian Poetry to develop the right skill-set for violence. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Vivek   June 9, 2010 at 11:10 am

    try to review old boy (second installation in the vengeance trilogy of park chan wook),

    once u watch it will stay in your mind for years ….( tarantino gave 10/10 in cannes film


    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Will do.

  12. sam   June 10, 2010 at 5:41 am

    Dev D, the modern version of Devdas is a stupid, senseless movie. It is an insult to older Devdas. SLB’s Devdas is much better.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    We haven’t seen SLB’s Devdas.

  13. guruprasad.s   June 11, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Watched Rajneeti and felt that the movie could have been better.
    Nevertheless, a fairly good movie.

    The Godfather connections could have been avoided.
    The killing of Chandra Pratap at traffic signal, the body-on-the-bed scene, and the
    car bomb explosion that kills Sarah and Prithvi are sooo obvious.

    Also, while extracting confession from the henchman of Virendra, Samar Pratap
    asks him to reveal the identity of the one who made him call Chandra Pratap.
    When the henchman doesnt relent, Samar Pratap remarks “Aap meri insult mat keejiye”.
    Now, this is a straight lift of Micheal Corleone’s line to Carlo Rizzi “Dont insult my intelligence”.
    The subsequent killing of the henchman using a phone bomb is not different from
    killing Rizzi after promising him mercy.

    I think that more than Jha, Anjum Rajab Ali is at fault here.
    Jha has fairly original work to his credit, but here he seems to live off Godfather.
    How is that ?

    The connections to Mahabharata are fairly obvious, but Jha seems to have taken to it
    even while naming his characters.
    For example:

    1. Sooraj (Devgan) is born from the union of Bharti and Bhaskar.
    Karna (also known as Suryaputra) was born from the union of Kunti and Surya (sun).

    2. Sooraj’s father is a car driver, just as Karna’s (adopted) father was a charioteer of low caste.

    3. Nana plays Brij Gopal and essays the role of (more or less) Krishna.

    On the acting front, I found Manoj Bajpai the most forceful, while Nana had less to say but still conveyed a lot. Ranbir had a meaty role and made good use of it.
    Katrina was atrocious, while Arjun Rampal still cant act. If only Jha had cast K K Menon for the role of Prithvi, the movie would have an enhanced appeal. The feral intensity that K K Menon brings to such a role will make you sit up and take notice.
    Watch Anurag Kashyap’s Gulaal to see what I mean.
    Naseeruddin Shah in a blink-and-miss role as fiery Bhaskar Sanyal was still first rate.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    You write: Watch Anurag Kashyap’s Gulaal to see what I mean.

    Among the many few things we accomplished yesterday by turning off comments is watching Gulaal. Will do a brief post on it later.

  14. sam   June 13, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    Only 3 Days to go for the biggest movie of the year to release….finally! So, which 1 r u planning to c, Raavan or Raavanan?

    Please watch both.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    You write: Please watch both.

    Please PayPal or Western Union $$ for both. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. sam   June 14, 2010 at 12:00 am

    Raavan speaks “My character in Raavan is a bit mad and unpredictable, his personality has different shades. One moment he might be dancing and can kill a person in the other,” So, …beware!

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Is that Abhishek speaking? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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