It is said that the epic saga of Mahabharata contains all the stories that exist in this world, be it lies, deceit, lust for power, revenge. In short all those that can make a solid impact. Prakash Jha taking a cue from this has set his big canvass film Rajneeti against an Indian political backdrop. But then at the same time he has merged dollops of The Godfatherwithin it. Nonetheless, the end product makes a compelling watch.
Cousins Veerendra Pratap Singh (Manoj Bajpayee) and Prithvi Pratap Singh (Arjun Rampal) are heirs of a powerful political party. But when Prithvi is appointed to take the lead, an angry Veerendra teams up with the backward class leader Sooraj (Ajay Devgan) to plot against Prithvi and evict him from the party. Prithvi’s younger brother Samar (Ranbir Kapoor) who is studying abroad and has no political aspirations gets sucked into the political rivalry between the families. Under the mentoring of senior party and family member Brij Gopal (Nana Patekar), Samar takes charge of the conniving affairs of state to start their own political party, gather funds and get Prithvi contest against Veerendra. What unfolds next as the battle shifts ground to the elections forms the rest of the film.
Like mentioned above, as the film mixes in elements from the Mahabharat, Veerendra’s character is a modern day Duryodhan where as Sooraj is Karan, a valiant soldier but on the wrong side. Brij Gopal played by Nana Patekar is like Krishna, the passive participant of the war who takes Ranbir Kapoor’s Arjun like character to victory with his guidance.
The film is a valiant effort by the master story teller, the multi-time National Award winner filmmaker, Prakash Jha who is at his home ground while making films of political drama genre. Here he is as ably aided by script writer Anjum Rajabali weaving just the right story and screenplay packing in all the treachery and deceit involved with Indian politics. What makes Rajneeti an engaging watch is also the fact that the makers have succeeded in narrating the story like a thriller format.
Jha doesn’t waste time in showing lip synced songs and incorporates them well in the narrative playing them in the background. Camerawork by Sachin Kumar Krishnan is simply superb. The way he has captured those vast mass shots deserves a bow. Although the running time of the film is close to three hours, it doesn’t matter much while watching the film and the credit for it goes to the editor Santosh Mandal. The sound design carries a good impact as well.
Absolutely brilliant performances by every single actor of the mammoth cast, also including those with smaller parts. As expected Naseeruddin Shah, Nana Patekar and Ajay Devgan are at their best. Arjun and Ranbir manage to match up to them as well and deliver a power packed punch. Katrina impresses with her uninhibited act. Sara Thompson as Ranbir’s foreigner girlfriend also leaves an impact in her relatively smaller part. But a performance that may win some awards for sure has been delivered by Manoj Bajpai. He is menacingly good. Shruti Seth, Vinay Apte, Kiran Karmarkar, Chetan Pandit and Nikhila Trikha lend able support.
Rajneeti is an important film in today’s times. It is not to be missed by connoisseurs of good cinemas well as those who forever complain that Hindi cinema offers nothing different.
– Sampurn Wire