Saturday, June 5, 2010

Rajneeti is a film that marshalls many "strengths" - multiple stars, grandness of scale, ample funding, and most importantly a genuinely respected director at its helm. Unfortunately all this adds up to nought. The film starts, if not promisingly, at least credibly enough, in true Bollwood fashion - a flashback. A number of characters are rapidly introduced and the fact that it is based on the Mahabharata is quickly made apparent. The story is about a political family and the fight for power between the cousins. Shashi Tharror first married Indian Politics to the epic story and he did an astoundingly brilliant job of it in his book The Great Indian Novel. Shyam Benegal did a corporate take on the same story with his film Kalyug, in the '70s. That too was a brilliant adaptation. Given the nature of the Mhahabharata as an epic - its everlasting relevance and the range of characters and situations, it should not have been a difficult task for Prakash Jha to do the same. But he chooses instead to second guess the commercial viability of his film and imbue it with bollywoodesque scenes and dialogues intended to generate ceetees. The result is scenes of rhetorical dialoguebaazi, sex and violence. And the typical mango people reacted with ceetees yes but also cackles of amusement at the dialogues and sex scenes which were silly and contrived. Ranbir and Katrina both struggle in roles that expect too much from their limited capabilities. Nana Patekar and Ajay Devgan cakewalk it but without much of an impact and the rest of the cast except for Manoj Bajpai, who is brilliant, are adequate. I liked Arjun Rampal's performance too. But ultimately the weak script leaves one with an uninvolved attitude. Ajay Devgan doesn't leave you anguished at the unfairness of life, Nana Patekar as Bheeshma/Krishna arouses no awe and Ranbir as Arjuna the noble warrior stands for nothing like nobility. Its a vaccuous film that I was hoping would redeem itself atleast towards the very end, by stressing the sheer meaninglessness of existence by a nihilistic finale. But no such luck. The ending is vapid, pointless. After Kites, yet another film that proves the unreliability of Big Names.