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.


  1. I did look up some snippets on YouTube, after reading you review; and you seem correct in your
    analysis. Ranbir Kapoor & Katrina Kaif look out of place, and the rest probably are just OK.
    I have not read Shashi Tharoor's novel, but Kalyug was brilliant.
    Really well written, concise, review.

  2. hey samir, always good to hear from you. a lot of critcs are praising it. but then many of them loved black which i thought was a disaster. do read shashi tharoor's book. i canot praise it enough. its among my favourite books. basically for the brilliant insight into the personalities that shaped modern india. it's irreverent and patriotic at the same time. amazing work

  3. cp.....i am too :) i liked abhishek only in yuva - so maybe with mani ratnam he can deliver again. with aish, one can only hope and pray :)she was good in a couple of movies. have you seen her in dhoom? she is unintentionally hillarious as this " sunehri from andheri" person. you will rub your eyes in disbelief at how she could be called an actress.

  4. ogod yes, the sunehri character. much as i like HR for eye candy i conceived a violent dislike for everyone associated with dhoom. actually the trailers for raavan which show ash screaming, are irritating me already.

    i've heard a lot about the tharoor book, going to look for it in the lib now ...

  5. if a movie is hyped too much before its release, more often than not, it will be a dud.

    Case in point.. Rajneeti, Kites, Raavan. I'm glad to have avoided all 3. And yes, I liked Abhishek in Yuva and then somewhat in Guru. He's a very artificial actor. Only the Bachchan tag is keeping him in the limelight. Thats probably why dad bachchan is still working so hard.