‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. This saying is not new to the scene of Indian politics. Rajneeti, a Prakash Jha production released last Friday is indeed an apt portrayal of this ugly side of politics in India. ‘Rajneeti’, the word is originally a combination of ‘raj’ and ‘neeti’ which mean ‘to rule’ and ‘methodology’ respectively. So ‘Rajneeti’ means the ‘methodology to rule’, commonly knows as ‘Politics’.
This movie is a multi-starrer with a perfect assimilation of comparatively new actors like Arjun Rampal, Ranbir Kapoor & Katrina Kaif and veteran actors like Nana Pategar, Manoj Bajpayee & Ajay Devgan. Naseeruddin Shah also has a marginal but impactful role in the beginning. The cast selection is befitting and all actors have lived up to their characters. Though it would not be wrong to say that Arjun Rampal and Manoj Bajpayee were the best performers.
Many elements of the plot are derived from the Mahabharata. Character traits, tales of feuding cousins and many other traces of the great epic are reflected in this movie. Most of the characters take direct resemblance and are symbolic to Arjun, Bheem, Yudhishtir, Duryodhana, Karan, Kunti, Dhratarashtra and even Krishna. The Pandavas and Kauravas of that period have taken modern roles of malevolent and conniving politicians. Although there is no game of dice or a draupadi cheer-haran, Prakash Jha has managed to adorn his plot of political conspiracy and battle of grievances by taking nuances from the Godfather as well.
The trouble starts brewing when the ‘Dhratrashtra’ of the family gets paralyzed after a heart stroke and the responsibility of the political party, which has been shown as the base of the then running coalition government falls in the hands of his younger brother. There is an obvious fight for power amongst the succeeding generation and the scene gets brutal & ugly when the eldest brother, symbol of ‘Duryodhana’ decides to end the political careers of his cousins. His greed for power is very evident and is supported by saarthi putra Karan.
This is when Ranbir Kapoor, symbolic of Arjuna returns from the U.S., rises to the occasion and guided by his elders, plays shrewd games of politics. In this battlefield for power even the women are not spared. Katrina Kaif & Sarah Thompson, two women initially in love with the same man have to go through sacrifice, trauma, deceit and eventually widowhood and death respectively. The women in the movie have played marginal roles but step up in the drama in the second half. Ranbir Kapoor, the modern day Arjuna is shown in grey shades and gets hardened by the death of his father and a cheek scarring slap from the police officer. He can be generously called the desi version of Micheal Corleone of the 1974 American masterpiece.
More or less Prakash Jha has tried to cover many aspects of Indian polity through his movie. The haggling of seats before election, the misuse of media in defaming the parties, hacking of EVMs and moral corruption to name a few. The film overall leaves behind a fine blend of emotions. The violence and bloodshed are though well suited in their place and can get a little macabre. For the most part the movie is a gripping watch and leaves an after effect on the viewer. One tends to get sombre after such an intense and poignant visual screening. The ending is predictable but definitely a must watch.