Raajneeti

 

Lust, Power & Deceit

Pic: Raajneeti; Source: Wikipedia

It is one of the greatest stories ever told and writer-director, Prakash Jha along with co-writer, Anjum Rajabali manages to narrate it again in a fascinating manner. Raajneeti takes its inspiration from Mahabharat and the current state of politics in India; from caste based politics to dynastic rule to horse-trading, the film touches upon a lot of issues. Having said that, Raajneeti is not a boring issue based film but a riveting drama-cum-thriller.  At 2 hours 45 minutes, the film moves at a breakneck pace from the word go, only faltering towards the end. You can predict what is going to happen overall but the clever screenplay still manages to surprise you with sudden twists.

Raajneeti is not about the battle between the good and the evil; it is about the lust for power and how far people can go for it. The first half of the film is taut while the second half has a lot of ups and downs as the director tries to pack in a lot. Those looking for the Gandhi family saga will be disappointed as the film only borrows the dynastic politics theme from the family and Katrina’s look from Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra.

The real winner in the film is its characterisation; there are no heroes or villains but strong characters that are superbly written and enacted (barring a couple). Nana Patekar makes an impressive comeback with a restrained yet powerful performance (no banging his head business happening here); while Ranbir Kapoor once again proves that he is going to rule the Hindi film industry in the years to come. Arjun Rampal, Manoj Bajpayee and Ajay Devgn, all deliver impressive performances along with Katrina Kaif who fits in the character well with her accent. Special mention for Shruti Seth who manages to shine in a brief role that is completely new to her sensibilities. Nikhila Trikha whose character is inspired by ‘Kunti’ from Mahabharat seems uncomfortable in her role as she is supposed to be at least 20 years older than her real age. In one of the critical scenes towards the climax, her exchange with Ajay’s character is actually funny, while it was supposed to be an emotional one. One actor who didn’t get his due in the film is Naseeruddin Shah who has a guest appearance like role but was promoted like one of the leads.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the film, I have one issue with the script; there is just too much violence as if the police and the judiciary do not exist. It would have been more interesting to see further Machiavellian mind-games and attacks rather than shootouts and bomb blasts. The production design is quite elaborate and you get to see palatial political homes to rallies with thousands of extras braving the heat and dust. Sachin Krishn’s cinematography is impressive and Santosh Mandal’s editing could have been a bit better in the second half. Thankfully, the songs are mostly in the background and do not hamper the narrative except one silly item song featuring Barkha Bisht (why, Mr. Jha, why?) that lasts around a minute only. ‘Mora Piya…’ composed by Aadesh Srivastava and ‘Dhan Dhan Dharti…’ composed by Wayne Sharpe on Vande Mataram theme are two songs to remember.

Raajneeti may not be Prakash Jha’s best work (my favourite is Gangajal) but is definitely his biggest and most commercial film. With the film getting a good opening at the box office, I sincerely hope that we’d get to see more political films in India. Since we are talking politics, my favourite film on the subject is Mani Ratnam’sIruvar’ (The Duo) (1997, Tamil), which was based on the lives of Tamil Nadu politicians, M. G. Ramachandran and M. Karunanidhi. The film bombed at the box office but is considered a masterpiece amongst film lovers. If you haven’t watched it, do try to find a DVD (it is difficult to find one with subtitles, but a big DVD store can get it for you on order. In Mumbai, try Landmark at Palladium); till then do catch Raajneeti on the big screen… it is worth a watch.

My rating: * * * ½ Three and a half stars on five

– Shrey Khetarpal

 

Rann

 

Is Rann Mein Nahin Zyaada Dum Hai

Pic: Rann; Source: Wikipedia

 

The camera goes in a tizzy… swings left and then right, focuses on the table and then Amitabh Bachchan and then the table again. Ram Gopal Varma’s Rann can give you motion sickness, not because it is a bad film but his camera does not stay still. Jokes apart, I like his style of using the camera (Cinematography – Amit Roy), giving the film a handy cam feel, which actually goes well with the film’s subject – the broadcast media.

Rann boasts of an ensemble cast with heavyweights like Amitabh Bachchan (good, as usual) and Paresh Rawal (good again); a range of actors playing small yet significant roles including Rajat Kapoor (likes playing baddie), Mohnish Behl (his most significant role since Hum Aapke Hain Koun), Riteish Deshmukh (I thought he was the lead, but…), Rajpal Yadav (funny, his character makes the real comment on the TV news channels) and Suchitra Krishnamurthy (yes, Anna of Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na); and then there are the guest appearances (or they seemed like that) by Simone Singh (graceful as ever), Neetu Chandra (dressed in lingerie most of the times, no reason) and Gul Panag (I think she got a raw deal, such a small role). All of them are good but there is one actor who shines in the film, Kannada actor, Sudeep. He plays an ambitious media baron who does not agree with his father’s (Bachchan) ideologies and chooses the wrong path to get those viewership ratings. Sudeep’s is probably the most significant character in the film and he makes it even better with his fine performance.

Now, coming back to the film; it set out to be an exposé of the TV media that could have been explosive and hard hitting. The film starts strong as we are introduced to a number of interesting characters (written by Rohit G Banawlikar); an interesting plot begins to form, which disintegrates completely in the second half. The film questions the value and the credibility of media today, especially the TV news channels; it showcases what greed can do and all possible poster boys of greed including corrupt politicians and cold businessmen are shown. However, the film falls short of making that powerful comment that forces you to think and generate emotion. The intent is good here but once again, a weak script spoils the game.

Though there is not much scope for music, whatever is there does not impress. The music is forgettable and the lyrics are quite bad (maybe an experiment that didn’t work). 

Overall, it is an average film and I would recommend it as a one time watch, just for Sudeep.

My Rating: * * * Three stars on five

Shrey Khetarpal