Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Ajay Devgan, Arjun Rampal, Ranbir Kapoor, Nana Patekar, Manoj Bajpai, Darshan Jariwala, Katrina Kaif, Sarah Thompson Kane, Nikhila Trikha
Director: Prakash Jha
I managed to see the film along with my family on the day of its release. The multiplex theatre was packed – after so long. And it was obvious from the audience reaction that the movie was very much worth a see.
THE STORY: As the tagline suggests, the movie is beyond politics. I have read somewhere that all the plots and stories around the world are but based on seven unique plots. Every story that has ever been created has been recycled from one of these. Well, this one is based on the biggest Indian epic, The Mahabharata. Veerendra aka Veer (Manoj Bajpai) plays the role of Duryodhana while he befriends the Dalit head Suraj (Ajay Devgan) who had been abandoned by his unmarried mother and brought up by the political family’s driver. You guessed it – he is Karna. The Pratap family of Pandavas include Prithvi (Arjun Rampal) and Samar (Ranbir Kapoor). While Veer is desperate to head the political party practically run by the family, the Prataps oppose him at every point. Gopal (Nana Patekar) happens to be Prithvi and Samar’s Mama - depicting the role of Lord Krishna. The war between the two sides brings about a nasty end to most of the characters while the widowed Indu (Katrina Kaif) who had been married to Prithvi becomes the Chief Minister. Samar goes back to the USA to complete his PhD as he had never been interested in politicking.
OUR PERCEPTION: Everything was absolutely grand - the story, the direction, the editing, the acting, the sequences, the cinematography and what not. You could not afford to get distracted even for a couple of seconds if you don’t want to miss something important, and everything is. The story flow is absolutely gripping and keeps you glued to the screen. The editing is absolutely tight with not one single excess shot. Kudos to the director and editor! The music is left in the background with just one small song that fits in well.
Naseeruddin Shah had a small role and he did quite well.
Nana Patekar as Mama Brij Gopal was simply amazing. I have heard him rattle off a lot of dialogues speedily in many of his films, both as good man and bad man. But in Raajneeti, his silences speak volumes. Impressive!
Arjun Rampal has finally arrived. A director has used him correctly and he has performed extremely well in his role as Prithvi, the politician. Prithvi is a combination of great looks, education, ambition and a streak of meanness that is not overpowering. His need to revenge has been portrayed in such a subtle fashion as one gets to see the result of his violent nature rather than the actual fight sequences. Awesome work, Arjun!
Ajay Devgan was good, nothing exceptional nor anything that he has not done before. His performance has been consistently good and he was excellent as Suraj.
We are seeing Manoj Bajpai in Bollywood after a long time. I thought that his film career had taken a downward spiral after he became an overnight hit in Ram Gopal Verma’s Satya. One could catch glimpses of Viku Mhatre in Raajneeti. Good show!
Katrina Kaif’s acting career has been soaring in Bollywood. But this film is definitely a turning point. She has stepped above her glam roles and has done some serious acting here. She has also worked on her Hindi and it shows. A great effort with stunning results, Katrina!
I always like to keep the best for the last. Yeah, that’s right – Ranbir Kapoor as Samar. The versatile actor is growing by leaps and bounds. It is really not necessary that it is all in the genes. We have seen a number of Kapoors flop too. But this Kapoor has got into the right profession, it seems. The range of emotions that he could portray and the subtlety with which he handles his role are simply amazing. One specific scene that touched me was when he sheds quiet tears looking at his father’s dead body, his lips quivering as his manliness does not allow him to cry out aloud while he is absolutely shaken that his father had been murdered. Keep up the wonderful work, Ranbir!
I have never been too fond of Prakash Jha’s films, finding them too violent for my taste. What tempted me to watch Raajneeti was the fantastic array of star cast. The violence is only in the background and not in the shedding of blood. There are no terrible fight sequences and it is way more subtle as only the vicious results are portrayed. Very glad about that! The film is totally gripping and does not even allow one time to think or predict the next scene. Not that everything was a surprise, but it is very rare that one gets to see such a tightly etched plot. Kudos to Mr. Jha!
Everything that is great need not be perfect. You need something to criticise. There is one such element here too. Suraj, Prithvi and Samar’s mother! Nikhila Trikha takes on the role of Kunti in Mahabharata. While she was doing alright when she did not have much talking to do, the moment she goes to ask Suraj to leave Veer and join his brothers, she falls flat on her face. Her expression and dialogue delivery sucks. A small black mark in an otherwise perfect film!
VERDICT: Paisa Vasool! Bollywood is back in action with this one.
RATING: **** ½ Snazzy Plus