‘Raajneeti’ Is Vote Worthy
Director: Prakash Jha
Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Ajay Devgn, Katrina Kaif, Ranbir Kapoor, Nana Patekar, Arjun Rampal, Naseeruddin Shah
Director Prakash Jha wastes no time in sucking the audience into the elaborate political saga that is Raajneeti. Right from the film’s opening scene at a rally, when battle lines are drawn within a political dynasty, it’s a fight to the last breath for the seat of Chief Minister. Assassinations, horse trading and betrayals take place at every turn, making Raajneeti an engaging watch. However, at nearly three-hours long, it tests even the most patient of viewers. Jha imagines Raajneeti as a modern-day version of the Mahabharata, which means that you know where the story’s headed, but not how it gets there.
When tragedy falls on the party led by the Pratap family just when elections are around the corner, a battle for power ensues between cousins Virendra (Bajpayee) and Prithviraj (Rampal). Prithvi’s younger brother, Samar (Kapoor), who has been studying for his PhD in America, is soon involved in the conflict. He proves to be a natural at political machination, and makes Indu (Kaif), a besotted family-friend, a pawn in his plans. The warring cousins are guided by shrewd political advisors on each side: Dalit leader Sooraj (Devgn) is loyal to Virendra, while the family’s trusted aide Brij Mohan (Patekar) attaches himself to Prithvi and Samar.
As in his earlier films such as Gangaajal and Apaharan, Jha holds a mirror to reality (in spite of his repeated denials, the story does contain elements of the political history of the Gandhi family). But while he’s adept at depicting the murky side of politics, there are clear lapses in his script. The Pratap family is beset with infighting, but does not seem to have any major political rivals outside of the fold. Characters are also seen engaging in gun battles and battering their enemies, doing the kind of dirty work politicians usually outsource to goons. Halfway through, a tacky item song pops up, as do a couple of gratuitous sex scenes. Devgn’s character, which contributes a large part of the drama in the first half, is subsequently relegated to the background.
Raajneeti works because Jha gets his ensemble cast to deliver the goods. Patekar is excellent, Devgn is efficient, and Kaif wings a difficult part on the strength of her charm. Even the usually wooden Rampal is surprisingly effective as a politician given to using his fists instead of his brains. Kapoor is the film’s real star; his mature and commanding performance carries Raajneeti to its drawn-out conclusion.
Rajneeti released today, Friday, June 4.Tags: Ajay Devgn, Bollywood, Film, Hindi film reviews, Katrina Kaif, Manoj Bajpayee, Nana Patekar, Prakash Jha, Raajneeti, Ranbir Kapoor, Special Top Story