It can be quite frustrating when after a long day’s work you drive 50 minutes in dense Hyderabad traffic to a 70mm theater to watch 19 reels of a film that neither has a head or a tail. Neither is this film inspired from Mahabharata [in fact, it is an insult to compare], nor is it a biographical sketch of the Gandhi family; Rajneeti is a big load of crap directed by Mr. Prakash Jha who thought he can take the audience for a ride— the film is a major disappointment on all counts.
The first 20 minutes our entire group of 6 were looking at each other and discussing who is related to whom, why, and why are they so pissed of at each other? You finally reconcile that it is all one big messed up family with serious personality issues. Clearly, two groups form and each group wants to be at the seat of power. In order to do this, each group is planning on how to outwit or kill a member of the other group. These killing scenes are alternated by scenes showing one political rally after another. By interval time, I got sick and tired of these rally scenes and people shouting slogans. Show us some story man! Manoj Bajpai and Ajay Devgan are one team while Nana Patekar, Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, and Arjun Rampal and the other team. Manoj Bajpai’s father suffers a stroke and instead of making his son the next political heir he makes his own brother [father of Arjun Rampal and Ranbir]. Manoj and Ajay kill the uncle and manage to oust Arjun from the party. Ranbir Kapoor who is currently pursuing doctoral studies abroad suddenly becomes the cold-blooded master mind for brother Arjun and begins to take on the other team. At the end of 19 reels, only Katrina, Ranbir, and Nana are left. Yes, Katrina becomes CM at the end.
So where is the Mahabharata you ask? Ajay Devgan is the first brother to Arjun and Ranbir, but because his is born unofficially he is set to sail in the river, picked up some a poor family and raised. On knowing the truth and being asked to join his brothers he boldly says that Manoj Bajpai is the one who supported him [Duryodhana types]. Naseerudin Shah is his father who is actually an old political activist; on sleeping with his student he is unable to accept his deed and thus vanishes [from the film]. I fail to understand why such an actor as Naseerudin Shah even accepted such a film [for the money or for the kiss in the rain? I must admit, it was difficult to watch the old Mr. Shah lip lock with a young girl] Nana Patekar is like the faithful family secretary always giving his council.
In terms of performance, I will rate Manoj Bajpai as the best. His get-up is exactly like that of Mega Star Chiranjeevi from Indra film. Second is Ajay Devgan. The rest all are fine. The scenes which show Katrina in a saree are just one or two and you have already seen them on the posters. The biggest problem with the movie is the bad direction and senseless storyline [if there is one]. Consider the following idiotic scenes of the famous director Mr. Prakash Jha: (i) Ranbir’s firang girl friend Sarah sees Ranbir’s brother’s goons abduct a girl in broad daylight and is shocked. The same girl, the next day tells Katrina who is now married to Arjun Rampal that her husband is such a nice guy (ii) there a total of three pregnancies in the film all of which are an outcome of just one sleep event (iii) Arjun Rampal has pulped a police officer to death and raped and killed a woman, and soon after we have his wife Katrina hug him to say she loves him. The story is devoid of any twist or interesting sub plot that can elevate the film. What we are shown are only violence, killing, suggested rape [i think the theater guy deleted the scene], and political speeches and rallies. All the above mentioned elements are acceptable in a film of this nature provided it has a powerful story.
You wonder if this film is a about a family feud with political backdrop or a political film with a family feud backdrop? The scenes between Katrina and Ranbir [the love story thread of the film] are slow and lack fizz. One item song is shown, but again only for 2 minutes [or did the theater guy cut this song too?]. Another evidence of senseless direction: on both sides people are dieing, but for some reason when a person dies from Ranbir’s side there is more focus. It appears to me as though the director made a film for 4 hours and the editor had a harrowing time trimming it down to three! What really irritated me is the justifications given by each character for their actions. Yuck! As an aside, the only seeti-maar scene in the entire film is when Shruthi Seth [a Mahila group leader wanting a ticket from Arjun Rampal's party] walks in dropping her pallu…Otherwise, a film like this has unlimited potential for dialogues and scenes that can get the masses excited.
None of us [we were 6 in our group] enjoyed the film. Reactions ranged from “what is going on!?!” to “bad”. By the time the film reached the second half in the second half, the folks from the Rs. 30 and Rs. 10 began hurling comments on the screen. I too felt tempted, but controlled myself! I was so bored and vexed. Three hours of laud nonsense, no comic relief, no songs, interesting twists in story…nothing. Prakash Jha has royally screwed up this film. At one point, I was hoping the projector guy at Shanti Cinema 70mm AC, dts [the dts sound was disappointing though this time] would give us all a break and squeeze in a Tere Liye from Prince just for a couple of minutes!
Do not get carried away by the big posters and all the serious expressions by an impressive star cast. In fact, just this morning I was telling my friend that perhaps Kites is a better watch.At the box office, Rajneeti will do in the range of ‘ok’ to ‘well’ in the first weekend because of those who are curious about the film, but it is bound to drop from Monday. There is no repeat value for the film. Mr. Taran Adarsh has already started giving box office reports supporting this review that the reports are positive, but do not be misled. Nobody will ever watch this film three months from now. It is sad that UTV [who gave us Swades] choose to produce this low grade wannabe political thriller.
Mr. Inkenti’s Movienomics Verdict: Two Thumbs Down! Rajneeti is undoubtedly a bad film. Simply avoid this film.
PS–To watch a real political thriller with a family feud watch Prasthanam [Telugu].