Written by: Prakash Jha, Anjum Rajabali
Directed by: Prakash Jha
Starring: Nana Patekar, Ajay Devgan, Manoj Bajpai, Arjun Rampal, Katrina Kaif, Ranbir Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah
My Advice: An excellent movie.
Raajneeti is the latest offering from Prakash Jha, who is back as a director after a long gap of five years. Praskash Jha had previously succeeded in a big way by handling socially relevant themes while giving them an excellent commercial touch, as well as delivering two consecutive hits– Gangaajal in 2003 and Aparahan in 2005. With this film, it is a political drama and one of the biggest multi-star films coming out of Hindi Film Industry in recent times, boasting the presence of Nana Patekar, Ajay Devgan, Manoj Bajpai, Arjun Rampal, Katrina Kaif, and Ranbir Kapoor. The movie also had its share of controversies (with assumptions that the movie is based on the life of Gandhi Family) which in turn brought it some excellent additional publicity. Now does this movie do justice to the star cast and does it deliver as a Complete Entertainer, matching the hype surrounding it? Yes sir, it does. Totally!
[ad#longpost]Raajneeti is the story of a family comprised of two brothers who have a political party: Rashtrawadi Party. With the state elections around the corner, the elder brother’s (who is also the leader of the party) health deteriorates and it results in the battle for the post of the president between his arrogant son Veerendra Pratap (Bajpai) and his younger brother’s son, Prithivraj Pratap (Rampal). Brij Gopal (Patekar), who also is Prithivraj’s uncle, is the party’s supervisor, who is for peace in the party and wants his nephew to come to power, as he is more capable than Veerendra. Samar Pratap (Kapoor) is Prithivraj’s younger brother, pursuing a PhD in the States but now back on a vacation to meet his uncle. Sooraj Kumar (Devgan), on the other hand, is the leader of the lower caste group and manages to get into the political party with the help of Veerendra, who develops a liking towards him, as he stands up against Prithivraj’s candidate during an election rally. Sooraj is also the illegitimate child of Prithivraj’s mother, who had abandoned him when he was born and does not know of his current Identity. Indu (Kaif) is a daughter of a rich businessman (who funds the Rashtrawadi party) and she is close to Prithivraj’s family. She is in love with his younger brother Samar. The lust for power between the two brothers, Veerandra and Prithivraj, ensures all these people get sucked into the web of deception, double crossing and bloodshed. How they misuse their power, who ends up winning the election, what all of them forgo, and what cost they pay for getting to power is depicted in an exceedingly great manner in the movie.
Coming to the story, first things first, it was well acknowledged by Prakash Jha that the story and the characters are inspired by Mahabharata (the Indian Mythological Epic) and yes, it shows. However, there is a liberal inspiration taken from The Godfather as well. But again, the story is cleverly written, intermingling the two with adequate twists and turns.
The performances–wow! Everyone involved gives their best. Nana Patekar–as the party advisor doing his utmost to protect the political party and as the caring uncle trying to get the power to his nephews–gives an excellent performance. Watch out for those cunning smiles during his interactions with Ajay Devgan–a treat to watch! Arjun Rampal as an actor has improved leap and bounds over the past few years, and this surely should rank among his best performances. His couple of scenes with the police inspector–one in the first half and second half–are superbly enacted by him. Ajay Devgan is in his element–though he does not have as much as screen presence as the others, he delivers. But surely he has given more memorable performances than this.
Ranbir Kapoor shows why he is considered the best among the youngsters in the Hindi film industry–his role is on similar lines of Al Pacino‘s in The Godfather. One cannot be compared to Al, but nevertheless he gives an excellent performance, and he holds his own against all the bigwigs in the movie and stands-out as the lead. Katrina has a good meaningful role (other than the sweet smile-n-dance routine in majority of her movies) and acts well, and shows that given a good director and role, she can surely deliver. Above all, Manoj Bajpai gives a powerhouse performance as the villainous, power hungry son, expecting the presidency to be his birthright. He excels in every department. His dialogue delivery and body language are in total sync with the character he plays. This movie should help his career get back on track in a big way.
There are some key moments in the film which Nana and Manoj carry through their excellent dialogue delivery. Sara Thompson playing Ranbir’s love interest and Nikhila Trikha playing his mother do well. Naseeruddin Shah has a small cameo (he occupies more space on the posters, but if you blink you are going to miss him in the movie!). This is the most expensive film directed by Prakash Jha, and he uses his vast experience and does well getting out the best of everyone. He takes the credit for the screenplay as well along with Anjum Rajabali, and ensures the adaptation is well presented. There are couple of songs played in bits and pieces in the background–“Mora piya” is soothing.
And as for the minuses–one glaring fact is that there cannot possibly be so much bloodshed and violence in one political family which is 24/7 under media glare and contesting state elections! The kind of violence shown is more or less associated with Mafia and not political families.
However, overall, this is an excellent movie with a great screenplay and superlative performances from everyone associated with it. This one is a must watch. All credit to Prakash Jha for pulling off this one!