When you step in to the dark arena, knowing that a film maker known for his powerful films such as Gangaajal and Apharan, has put together an ensemble cast to narrate to you a story about the Indian polity, the last thing on your mind is the heat or the popcorn. You ought to be excited, if you like watching good cinema. And, after all, Bollywood has not been having the best year so far considering lady luck had not been singing loud enough to please the Indian audience. Even the big budget films, seem to have bombed due to more reasons than one. And, then it began…
With a first half that can sometimes leave you scratching your head, by the time the interval gets there, you are actually looking at the person next to you and saying, “Okay. Not bad. Not bad at all. This is good. Hope it gets better.” And, I’m not exaggerating when I say that. With most of the first half spent in introducing the characters, and so many of them, you really need to keep your mind focused on this one, to be able to understand the twists and turns that follow suit later on – and so many of them. The story deals with the dirty, power-hungry, divided clan of brothers who begin jumping for the throne from the moment the current party president suffers from a paralytic attack and their journey through the entire process. In more ways than one, the film finally marks the return of powerful storytelling after a dry spell in Bollywood only boasting of mindless comedies and exorbitant locales.
The plot, which definitely exceeds planning that goes beyond a line and a script that is worth a mention, are the strong points of the film, keeping aside the powerful performances from each member of the cast. Once the family tree has its branches falling all over the place, thanks to guns, alliances and betrayals that are passé, the film starts falling in place, building up, waiting to explode. Though the climax is nothing extraordinary and at points can leave even the biggest Bollywood buff cringing, does not do much damage to the otherwise powerful film. Leave aside the references to The Mahabharata, The Godfather and the Nehru-Gandhi family, and you have a fairly good film to relish, considering you did carry your brains into the dark – because this film will require you to think. But then again you wonder is it just a mediocre film that worked well, thanks to the hype and ensemble cast. Or are we just so used to movies that make us cry, rather than laugh at their stupidity, that something close to the line of sensibility makes us praise it, more than required?
Cinematographically, the film could have done way better, rather than going in for the safer bets of long shots and mid-shots as and when required, using maybe RGV’s Sarkar for reference. The editing also could’ve been slightly more imaginative, to make a better viewing. The film in its current avatar leaves not much scope for the music which is otherwise a fairly decent soundtrack put together by various artists and composers. Bheegi Si and Mora Piya are stand out tracks on this one. The background score does well to enhance certain scenes, which otherwise could have tasted bland and overall, is well done. The styling is perfect to the T, including the costume designing, the art direction and all other nitty-gritty’s been taken care of, leaving no scope for complains in those departments. However, the innumerable statements about and beginning with the word Raajneeti could’ve been done without – or maybe lesser in number.
Manoj Bajpai does extremely well as the somewhat antagonist with Ajay Devgn accompanying him returning to what he does best, after a series of failed comic acts. Nana Patekar, as seen here in a different avatar, delivers a suave and memorable performance. Katrina Kaif, does surprisingly well with her Hindi, and for once you wish hadn’t paid so much attention to whether she was pronouncing the words correctly. Arjun Rampal proves once again after ‘Rock On!!’ that he can do better than just being eye candy on magazine covers, with certain moments in the film where he wins your heart. But, if none of this impresses or baffles you, go watch this film to see the hopeless romantic from Saawariya, the kid from Wake Up Sid!, the loveable goof from APKGK, the innocent sardar from Rocket Singh take on a new role as Samar Pratap. Ranbir Kapoor proves how he is here to stay and how the big screen is his home turf, with a marvellous performance and a versatility that is praise worthy.
All in all, Raajneeti is a breath of fresh air that more people, especially movie lovers need to breathe in. And, if you like to keep your children away from violence, leave them at home for this one. And, if they’re young enough to cry in the theatre, make sure you leave them home, to avoid looks from the other movie goers.