Rajneeti. For once the very impressive trailer almost lived up to the film and the expectations it created. Prakash Jha is brilliant at unfolding his plot, characters and keeping you hooked.

Rajneeti is the tale of a political family told against the backdrop of elections. Trust, brotherhood, betrayal, love, lust, sex, wisdom, illegitimacy, money, fear, blackmail- all these and more are the key characters in Prakash Jha's thrilling political drama. Largely incorrect to call it a political drama though since it is more focused on a family and the politics just forms the backdrop. What Prakash Jha does is put together an ensemble of some very good actors, takes parts of the Mahabharata, parts of the godfather, some resemblances to real life Indian politics, puts this all together in an almost seamless fashion and gives you about 3 hours of entertainment worth the price of a ticket.

The tale is of two parts of a family who are part of a popular party. When the elder brother is stuck with paralysis, Vir Pratap (Manoj Bajpayee) believes it is his birthright to lead the party. When the position of leading the party in the elections is given to Prithviraj (Arjun Rampal), Vir Pratap's vengeful self comes to the fore and to gain support he brings into the party Suraj (Ajay Devgn), the illegitimate elder sibling of Prithviraj and Samar (Ranbir Kapoor). Yup, those of you familiar with the Mahabharata (and if you are an Indian you better be familiar with it. After all, it is the longest epic in the world and has everything to do with life and politics explained in it) will recognise Manoj Bajpayee's character showing shades of Duryodhana, Suraj showing Karna, Arjun depicting Bheema (or Sonny Corleone in godfather) and Ranbir Kapoor depicting the crafty Arjuna (or Michael corleone from the godfather). Katrina Kaif as Indu displays shades of Draupadi who is sacrificed for power and yet is powerful enough to bring about destruction. There is the very impressive Nana Patekar as the wise, calm Brij Gopal (depicting lord Krishna- shrewd, powerful but who never took to arms in the war). A host of other characters remind of the greatest ever epic told in India. By now it must be obvious to you how much I admire the Mahabharata and therefore this movie.

The movie is well paced and unfolds well. There are a few loopholes in the plot and many sequences are bang on from The Godfather including an assassination, the character of Sarah (sarah Thomson Kane). Considering that the Godfather is among my all time favorites, and the way Prakash Jha has Indianised it, I could only admire it here. Some good performances from Nana Patekar, Ranbir Kapoor, Arjun Rampal and Katrina Kaif. Manoj Bajpayee is pretty impressive in some scenes and you wonder at the industry's loss in not grooming this fine actor. What finally bursts the bubble of this wonderful movie is the climax and prior to that an extremely pivotal scene between Suraj and his birth mother.

In spite of that, a movie worth watching and a must watch.


Roshmi Sinha June 6, 2010 at 4:26 AM  

I too have been reading impressive reviews... about this one.

But... most reviewers have missed out the meaning of 'Rajneeti' and equated it with 'politics'. While 'Rajneeti' actually means the 'principles/ideals followed by a just ruler/King' ('Raj' = Ruler/King/One who rules and 'Neeti' = principles/ideals)

"A host of other characters remind of the greatest ever epic told in India."

I beg to differ. Echos of the Mahabharata (as well as the Ramayana) can be found in the great epics of the western world...

Ved June 6, 2010 at 8:36 AM  

Wel...Roshmi...I meant the Mahabharata is the greatest epic in the world. Yes, parts of it would have found their representations both in Indian as well as western cinema.

Yes...you are right. Rajneeti means the guiding principles to ruling. But since politicians and not kings rule us now its become synonymous with politics

I wonder why no film-maker takes up the Mahabharata and contemporarises it ? Vishal Bharadwaj would be great at it. It will be too long though :)

Roshmi Sinha June 7, 2010 at 1:22 AM  

Yes... The 'Mahabharat' is the greatest of all epics.

As for the 'contemporizing the Mahabharat' bit... let us first try to understand/interpret our great epics rightly (and that includes the 'Ramayana' as well). They are timeless. What is found in the Mahabharat... can be found elsewhere throughout the ages... but what is not there... will not be found anywhere.

Wonder why the history of our country or the ‘extinct’ civilizations are usually written by folks… belonging to nations whose own history is but a few hundred years!

And somehow… our history never goes beyond the British and the Mughals, with a smattering of French and Portuguese thrown in here and there.

The greatest of Emperors… Chandragupta Vikramaditya… has been successfully reduced to ‘Vikram and Betal’ while the Emperor Ashok is papered over… as someone who embraced Buddhism and ‘non-violence’. No word is ever written… that inspite of having ‘embraced non-violence’… no invader/conqueror could capture even an inch of the land he ruled...

... Despite enough proofs to the contrary... our great epics are dubbed as ‘mythology’. Wonder why though…

Anonymous,  July 30, 2010 at 10:53 PM  

I have been searching for a site to vent my frustration at the terrible English subtitles for "Rajneeti' and most Bollywood movies. My mother is 90 and hard of hearing. Subtitles are the only way she can enjoy hindi movies.
The standard of captions for the deaf, in hindi movies, is disgraceful.
Is it just cheaper to pick some illiterate person off the streets to do this important job?

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