Sunday, June 06, 2010

RAAJNEETI MOVIE REVIEW

Cast :: Nana Patekar, Ajay Devgan, Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Manoj Bajpai, Arjun Rampal & Naseruddin Shah.

Music :: Wayne Sharp.

Director :: Prakash Jha.

Producer :: Prakash Jha.

Release date : 4 june 2010.

Rating:


Raajneeti Hindi Movie Review:

One of the most powerful and pertinent political parables in India undoubtedly happens to be Mahabharat where brothers fought against each other to gain ultimate power. Prakash Jha employs the same politics of power in his contemporary adaptation of Mahabharat, deriving its primary plot and central characters from the epic. Amidst continual character introductions, technical political procedures and several subplots, it takes a while for you to grasp the scheme of things in the initial reels. Here’s an attempt to summarize the multilayered story in the most elementary manner.

Story:
Cousins Veerendra Pratap Singh (Manoj Bajpayee) and Prithvi Pratap Singh (Arjun Rampal) are heirs of a powerful political party. When Prithvi gets to take the lead, Veerendra teams up with a 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. Those acquainted with Mahabharat will certainly comprehend the character analogy. Veerendra (Bajpayee) is derived from Duryodhan and Sooraj (Devgan) from Karan. Samar (Ranbir) corresponds to Arjun who fought the battle under the guidance of Krishna equivalent to Brij Gopal (Nana) – the passive participant in the war. The characters are effectively recreated and the core concept and conflicts are ably redrafted in the modern milieu.

Movie Analysis:
The screenplay by Prakash Jha and Anjum Rajabali is crisp and has a dynamic flow with the drama building up through the political one-upmanship between opponents in every passing act. With the premise that politics corrupts every soul, almost every central character in the film is sketched with shades of grey. So much so that till a point you are puzzled on who’s the protagonist and who’s the antagonist. But by the second half the two are distinctly demarcated with Ranbir’s character coming to forefront. Other than Mahabharat, there’s also a hint of Godfather in the writing when Ranbir stays back in India to win over his father’s lost empire. And here’s where the film shifts track from a political saga to being a regular revenge drama. The formulaic climax adds to the vengeance plot but at the same time complements the original essence of Mahabharat. Samar’s entire quest to find his father’s murderer seems frail since the assassin’s identity is obvious with no other character left to gain the benefit of doubt. Arjun Rampal’s arrest in the first half seems as much forced as much as Naseeruddin Shah’s presence in the film’s prologue. The firebrand leftist leader suddenly disappears into oblivion. However the minor loose ends in the narrative are overshadowed by it’s brisk pace and deft direction.

Prakash Jha is the best in business when it comes to handling political drama. While his Hindi heart-belt dialogues and political jargons add authenticity to the film, at times it may be difficult for the audience to appreciate the proceedings. Nevertheless his storytelling is simple, effective and gripping never letting you lose the film for any moment. The hypocrisy of the two-faced politicians that he brings out through the film, as they smile externally and scheme internally is admirable. Also while having a star-studded cast, at no point does he exploit the heroism of his stars but focuses only on the performance of his actors. There are no snazzy entries, starry songs or heroic action sequences. The script gets the better of the actors.

Raajneeti is an absolutely performance driven film and Jha not only extracts excellent performances from his cast but also balances each role so that no actor overshadows the other. Ranbir Kapoor as the protagonist who is willing to go to any extent to win the political race stands out from the towering cast with the most poised performance of his career so far. Manoj Bajpayee is theatrical but since his character demands that, he doesn’t end up hamming like he has been doing in recent roles. In fact he is in superb form and delivers a vicious negative act. Nana Patekar as the silent spectator and guide is so effective that despite taking a backseat his screen-presence is never diluted. Ajay Devgan, once again, speaks through the intensity of his eyes and is remarkable. Arjun Rampal is amazingly confident, playing a character divergent to the roles he has done so far. Katrina Kaif adds dignity to her role and also speaks fairly decent Hindi. Nikhila Tirkha as Ranbir’s mother is impressive. Shruti Seth is effective in her two-scene slattern act.

The epic tale of Mahabharat has been repeatedly adapted on the small screen ever since B.R.Chopra first did it more than two decades back. But barring Chopra’s version, all other direct derivatives have been shoddy and forgettable. All those losers and other aspirants can take a lesson or two from Prakash Jha about the politics of the trade. Raajneeti is the most effective cinematic interpretation of the Mahabharat since Shyam Benegal’s Kalyug (1981).

Final View:
Prakash Jha’s Raajneeti is a politically correct tribute to Mahabharat. Absolutely recommended!
Go and watch it.

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