The greatest story ever told?

When i was in school and we were asked to write essays on our favourite books i always wrote Mahabharata. There is a saying in Bengali :”Ja nei bharate, ta nei bharate” which means anything that did not find a place in the great epic, does not exist in India. Politics forms the crux of the epic. Dynastic politics, feud over property, power tussle between blood relations make each page of the greatest story ever told so gripping. But an adaptation of the same with Indian electoral politics as the backdrop fails to impress much. Specially so because this film comes from the kitty of Prakash Jha (who had raised the bar of film making with Gangajal). Had Karan Johar made this film i would have been all praises (like i was in MNIK; that film was pathetic too). Rajneeti works because Mahabharata works.

I will not go into the story of the film. I would just try to talk about certain aspects of the film which if absent could have made Rajneeti a classic. First is the screenplay. In the first half of the film it almost resembles a Yash raj drama! Specially the scenes between Ranbir and Katrina! The scenes went by too fast and editing was really bad which hampered the flow of the film. The songs were complete misfit and could have been given a miss! Prakash Jha should really learn how to use songs as background scores. Some concepts were cliche ridden. Dialogues were stale in most parts and evoked laughter in some serious scenes (like “tum mere jyesth putra ho”). The director’s attempt to adapt Mahabharata boomerangs. He lets many strings loose which becomes very difficult for him to sort out by the end of the film.
Violence and cash form an essential part of our politics, and this is one aspect of the film that has been dealt with, with full dedication. Marriages become business deals, no place for ideals in the game and ruthless hunting down of adversaries form the major part of the second half of the film. And that is why Rajneeti is watchable. This is Jha’s domain and he doesn’t fail. The world behind the closed doors has been shown very efficiently. And so were the scenes of public rallies and gatherings. Very grand ( i even clapped in the scene where Arjun Rampal is declared the party candidate i a rally where Manoj Vajpayee was supposed to address).
But by the end Jha gets carried away and takes a lot of liberties with the script which makes it rather weak. Or else, how could murders of two state level leaders in broad day light in the middle of the street go un-investigated? It seems he was in a hurry to wrap the film.
About the cameos. Naseeruddin Shah was a wastage. He plays Suryadev ( if you have read the Mahabharata). That reminds me, i did not know Indian men were blessed with such virility. One encounter and the woman is blessed with an offspring. The lady who played Ranbir’s love interest Sarah did justice to her role(she had little to do). Even Katrina can be called a guest star in the film. She hardly has anything to do until Rampal gets killed( and that was one scene that shook me). After watching Indu (katrina’s character) deliver that speech at a public rally my reverence for Mrs Gandhi increased at least a hundred folds.
About performances, Manoj Vajpayee was back to his Satya days, Arjun Rampal was emphatic, Ajay Devgan wins hearts, Katrina proves she can act too (in the last half an hour) and Ranbir shows shades of Al Pacino in his portrayal of Arjun (with huge influence of Michael Corleone). The show stealer was Nana Patekar. I am still confused whether he is Shakuni or Krishna! But i am biased towards the latter. The political advisor and guru of Ranbir, he pulls the strings in the game and he does it with elan.
Had the sub plots been dealt with more maturely and had the screenplay and editing been more crisp, the film could have become a masterpiece. Mahabharata and Godfather are epics which are very difficult to recreate on screen. I prefer Kalyug over Rajneeti if adaptation of Mahabharata is the yard stick.
I rate this film a 2.5/5 and have to admit with a heavy heart, i was disappointed.
P.S. Wayne Shapre’s background score was good. And Ajay Devgan’s character proves the futility of caste politics. Although the film is not very impressive, i am all the more keen on joining politics.

About Agnivo Niyogi

Typical Aantel, reader, blogger, news addict, opinionated. Digital media enthusiast. Didi fanboi. Joy Bangla!

Posted on June 4, 2010, in film. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Pramod Thomas

    Good article indeed


  2. thanx 🙂


  3. Good review. Covers everything. Seems like i'll have to give it a sitting, not in a theatre though


  4. lost_scotoma

    I read the first para and as soon as I realized that you were writing about the story of the movie, I shifted straight down to the last para…I stopped coz I'm going to watch this movie for myself on Sunday! Haha…


  5. @slaith yeah its worth one time watch! @shakti i didnt write a word on the story 😛


  6. lost_scotoma

    Mahabharata boomerangs! Two words define the entire blog! Awesome! …. BTW I hope Katrina act (at least in the last 1/2 hour) coz her Hindi almost kills me! Keep writing bro!


  7. @shakti she does not have much to say exceot an impassioned speech towards the end 🙂


  8. Prerna Munshi

    Fantastic, you saved my 150 bucks!! :):)


  9. Aditya Nandode

    U have been showered with accolades already! But i think this will make a descent dough!


  10. siddharth chakraborty

    Ok 1 more movie which i wanted to watch killed by reviews .. lol when are they going to make some good movies ?? next year ? lol looks i have to stick to hollywood movies for looooooong time ..


  11. Nice 1. Saved my cash!


  12. Subham Dasgupta

    good review…though the scene u clapped is the scene i laughed was an extremely predictable scene and on the top of that, the change of screen…u forgot to mention shruti seth!!!! how cud u forget her!! she had more screen time than katrina in the first 2.15 hrs of the movie! nana patekar and ranbir were equally good. but sumhow arjun rampal lacked that oomph!


  13. **Blogger of the Year Award goes to Mr. Agnivo**… 🙂 keep Smiling N keep Writing bro… 🙂


  14. jayati_guria

    nice 1…..personally i feel it was only 4 nana patekar dat the movie is watchable….


  15. Were u blindfolded like Gandhari while watching the movie. Ur blog is trash. Looks like some ppl can go to any extent for the sake of being different. This unscrollable piece of horse-dung testifies that.


  16. @ambuj i guess you did not watch the movie or were paid by the production to blast anyone who wrote the truth! i can cite scene by scene flaws in the script! and there is something called etiquette. even if you dont agree to someone's point of view there is a better way of saying that rather than using un parliamentary words like u did! shows how much your parents taught you!shame on you!


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