The name of Prakash Jha evokes respect and sensibility. Here was one director who was not afraid to take a stance on a hard-hitting issue. He had this knack of showcasing the dark underbelly of our society. Whether it was corruption, politics or business of kidnapping, Prakash Jha was somewhat of an expert in exploring dark subjects. Right from Damul, Mrityudand to Gangaajal or Apaharan, he amply demonstrated his mastery over radical and sensitive issues. But Raajneeti is more of a damp squib for me. Unlike his penchant for script, focal issues, pitch and characters, Raajneeti, his most ambitious project ever, tends to go wild in its theme. The movie is weighed down by the sheer weight of its over-indulgence and that’s where it disappoints.
Politics as a subject offers infinite possibilities for a filmmaker. It is a different issue that very few directors have the guts to delve deep into thousand of untold political tales. We have our restrictions in terms of political backlash, censor board, ministerial bigwigs and of courses, goons masquerading as moral custodians of our society. But when someone like Prakash Jha announces a movie on evergreen theme of Mahabharata, people tend to sit up and take notice of what he says and delivers. The ancient tale of Mahabharata is perhaps the best political thriller of all times. It has drama, emotions, romance, illicit relationships, intrigue, betrayal and power games. And that’s where ‘Raajneeti’ fails to deliver. In almost 3 hours it tries to incorporate and deliver too many things.
Director makes a further mess of a potentially explosive subject by completely veering off from the topic in the second half. From a political thriller, it merely becomes a revenge and gangster drama inspired from ‘Godfather’. Movie starts well but tends to deviate from the reality despite the claim of being a reflection of the modern times. The film is all about dynastic politics and refrains from touching crucial aspects like criminal-corporate-politicians nexus, vote bank politics, nepotism and caste factor in our system. Raajneeti claims to be inspired from Mahabharata but here again, what you get is half-baked characters. So our Krishna, Nana Patekar becomes more of a Shakuni, Yudhisthir (Arjun Rampal) is elder Corleone and Duryodhan (Manoj Bajpai) turns into a whiner and drinker.
Raajneeti has no rights or wrongs. Both sides are equally corrupt and power-hungry. It is not at all a realistic take on our political system. At best, the movie can be termed as a masala film inclusive of all the essential spices and curry to make it acceptable amongst the elites as well as masses. In a political drama, the speeches are perhaps the most important aspect but in this movie, you will be disappointed with how different characters have rendered their speeches. Mano Bajpai seems drunk and in the mould of a heart-broken poet reciting sher-o-shayari while asking for votes. Arjun Rampal, well..no matter how hard he tries, he remains wood-faced. Coming to climax speech of Katrina Kaif (Priyanka Gandhi avatar), please spare us the agony. I would rather live under the illusion of her being an eternal glam-doll instead of facing the reality of her having no talent to speak proper Hindi and her inability of doing any justice to a role of substance.
Performance wise, Mr. Prakash Jha, what objective did you achieve by wasting astonishing talent of Naseeruddin Shah except making us aware of the fact that he can also perform lip-locks? He was on stage for 2 minutes and in that time, he showed us, had his character been properly developed, what values he would have added to the premise of the movie. Manoj Bajpai delivers after a long time in his author-backed role. It was wonderful to see him back. Nana Patekar fails to deliver. All he managed to do is to put a smile on his face during adverse situations and firing some useless dialogues from Bhagwad Gita during the climax. Ajay Devgan is an eclectic mix of angst and understated menace but somehow I get this feeling that his role demanded more screen presence. Arjun Rampal, umm….someone please send him to acting schools of Roshan Taneja or Barry Richards. Ranbir has kept evolving as an actor. He had the privilege of acting on a well written character and he does total justice to his role. No, I am not going to talk about Katrina or any other female except Shruti Seth who does far more in a miniscule two minute role of a ticket-hungry damsel than what Katrina does in the entire movie.
At best, what you can do is to watch this movie once and forget it forever. You also have the choice of regretting over the fact that how a movie with immense potential in terms of content and presentation fails to its own ambiguity and ambitions.
Points to Ponder-
1) Why such ridiculous climax? The main characters that until now were shown cunning and smart took guns in their hands to settle score?
2) All three sex scenes in the movie results into pregnancy! Perhaps, the characters shown speaking English had never heard of ‘protection’ and all?!