Raajneeti: An epic nicely retold

June 5, 2010

BOLLYWOOD/First things first, “Raajneeti” is not about the first family in Indian politics even though some characters might resemble familiar cardboard cutouts.

So don’t go expecting some dope on a reality which is much stranger than fiction.

This film is a costume drama with white kurtas and cotton saris replacing wooden swords and bling bling battle dresses.

It is a re-telling of the Mahabharata restating it in a not-so-modern but certainly contemporary politics — somewhat like Shashi Tharoor’s “The Great Indian Novel”.

So if you go looking for Karna you will find him within the first five minutes of the movie and Ranbir Kapoor’s character will turn out less like any politician dead or alive and more Arjuna-meets-Michael Corleone from “The Godfather”.

Once the characters have been established, the thrill of watching doesn’t lie in what is going to happen next.

For that you know already.

The pleasure is in how the story is told — the plot devices the director uses to re-state the story in a political context.

And that has been done very competently, indeed subtly — watch Ranbir arrange a bride for his elder politician brother played by Arjun Rampal.

It is only the scene where this movie’s Kunti meets Karna that jars for its throwback to language used in B.R.Chopra’s teleserial.

The film is taut, with no distracting songs or sub-plots as the scripts hurtles towards a bloody end.

And just like the epic, by the time the story ends no one is left standing morally, not even the Krishna-like character played by Nana Patekar with his usual finesse.

But expect no new insights from director Prakash Jha who himself has contested elections.INDIA

As an aside, one may observe that in more literary re-tellings the novelty is often the re-examining of motives that drive characters — say what does Draupadi think of wedding five men.

Nothing new here by way of that.

Like other adaptations be it Macbeth as “Maqbool” or Othello as “Omkara” or the Mahabharata as Shyam Benegal’s “Kalyug”, this film is well-acted, well-directed and well-written.

A must watch if you like a nice story retold.

So, thank you Prakash Jha and thank you Ved Vyas.

One comment

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For starters, real Indian politics — whether it is borrowed Godfather or reworked Mahabharata — is unending excitement. There are no full stops there. Rajneeti, coming from Prakash Jha, was a huge let down. For starters, the film was atleast 40 minutes too long. It starts with promise only to steadily descend into killing all around. If violence and pre-meditated murders can be trivial, one gets to watch that in Rajneeti.

The acting has been consistently good and one can see Ranbir Kapoor on his way to lasting stardom. Beyond that it is hard to appreciate. The art direction falls badly for a film where more research would not have been that difficult. The “parents” of the character played by Ajay Devgan pull out the cloth in which the baby was found wrapped without even having to search for it; and it looks a day rather than 30 years!

The film signs off in the same fashion, the youngster who has schemed and murdered with impunity simply blames the demons of politics, dusts himself and walks away!

Posted by ananth2010 | Report as abusive