Rajneeti: In short, “What Shit, man!”

Posted: June 6, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I could have just said what I say in the title, viz. “What Shit”, and that would suffice to describe my reaction on Rajneeti. But to share with you, why I feel this way, I will dwell on this some more.

I was really looking forward to Rajneeti. God knows, I have let it be known via Facebook and Twitter. The promos had impressed me. And there is a lot of potential in a political drama. But the film disappointed sorely!

Two great epics that a lot of filmmakers have drawn inspiration from, are the Mahabharat and Godfather. Prakash Jha takes inspiration from both. Which is fine by itself. Except that Prakash Jha forgot that he was making a political drama, and not a gangster film. Turned out that he made it more of a Godfather, than a Chanakya-esque political play.

And that is my biggest problem with the film. The excessive and random violence, which just seems unbelievable. Can you really win an election by gunning away all the top political leaders of your opposition? Like, what’s going on?!

** SPOILER ALERT: If you are planning to see the film, and want to be surprised, you should not read further! **

So here are my thoughts on the film. First the good parts – yes, there are few:

The initial was decent. There clearly seemed like there was potential here, and that the film will turn out to be an interesting dramatic screenplay. Most performances are decent, especially Arjun Ramphal, Ranbir and Nana Patekar. The sets are decent, and give you a feel of the political landscape.

Yeah, guess that’s about it. From here on, its all downhill.

And so here are the rants – what I found strange or incomprehensible, or purely unbelievable:

1. A fundamental inconsistency in the characters:

a. Ranbir – he is the Al Pacino from Godfather, like a reluctant entrant into the dirty world of politics. But what is the person that is his character?? He is supposed to be clean, sincere, educated, a man of the world, a person with genuine feelings. That he can be smart to do political manipulations is fine, but can he be ruthless to go on a killing spree, or to trade his close relationships for political gain. And who again, still feels for his unborn child or his American girlfriend. If there are shades to his character, why and how he shifts from one to the other shade, is not powerfully shown. I mean, if he is clean, but there is a frustration that drives him to violence, the development of that frustration, his internal agony, a despair that drives him to be so different, is not apparent at all. Its more like a comfortable Jekyl and Hyde existence, it would appear!

b. The mother: one who at one time, rebeled against her politician father, and joined up with a revolutionary leftist, but meekly accepts a political marriage. And also allows herself to be a pawn in the political battle, while planning a wedding with Katrina, for her son. One who’s spent 30 years doing donations at a temple, for her first son, whom she lost, but who, after locating him 30 years later, in her first meeting with the son, makes him a political proposal. What is her real character??

c. Nana Patekar feels for the son of his sister, whom he locates, and does not kill him. Cries for him, in fact. But who at the end, comfortably encourages Ranbir to finish him off. So what was the real Nana?

d. Katrina, proud, confident, independent girl. But easily agrees to a wedding of manipulation, without any serious resistance?

What are the real people like? Such swings in the character map. Does not show consistency at all.

2. So what was the problem that Prakash Jha and Nana Patekar had? I think Nana has a very interesting role, a combination of a Bheeshma and Chanakya. If anyone should have a grouse, it should be Ajay Devgan! His character has not been given a chance to develop and he just hangs around, sort of. Likewise, Manoj Bajpai who could have been a strong Duryodhan, is made to look like a comedian, almost. Not sure if its the ensemble cast that has prevented Prakash Jha from developing better characters for everyone. But Manoj’s was a real let down. Katrina’s like a fly on the wall. So much for it being a momentous role for her career. No big deal at all.

3. So you are trying to show reality in politics, Mr. Jha! At high places, at levels of CM, we do not have a reality of random killings. Perhaps in Bihar, smaller level of politicians could be getting bumped off, every now and then. But do we have Godfather like mass killings? No, we don’t.

4. If at all, crucial CM-level candidates are killed, and more than one, I would believe that Emergency would be imposed in the state. You can’t just shoot out opposition leaders, and election still goes on fine, and you can come out winner. That is a little unbelievable.

5. Why the annihilation finally? When you have already lost lives at your own end (and hence you know how vulnerable you are), and with some efforts, you have secured the political victory, why would you still go after opp leaders / your cousins, to finish them off?? Its not a gangster film, with only the “last one standing”?! It is not a Mafia film?! But Prakash Jha makes it look like one.

6. And what about pregnancies?? At the rate at which single night stands convert to pregnancies, right through the film, one would wonder about the fertility levels! Also hasn’t anyone heard of birth control methods??

I think finally, what caused my ultimate adverse reaction were two things:

1. The end was really bad. And that is what remains with you, as you walk out, and ponder about what just happened.

2. Like in case of Kites, it is an expectation thing. In Kites, I went with low expectations (as by that time, people had run the film down), and was reasonably satisfied with what I saw. Here I expected a lot. Reviews were good. So really thought this would be one good film to watch. And it turned out to be drab!

In fact, looking at the violence that prevalied, I almost expected at the end, that when Ranbir’s being taken to the airport, driven by Ajay Devgan’s father, he’ll blow him up too. In keeping with the rest of the random violence!!!

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Comments
  1. Hitesh says:

    Nice review sir. You pointed the real facts. One more thing I would like to add “The party president of ex ruling party killed, a general secy killed, candidate killed (Rampal)”.. Elections are banned in such violence. Anyway.. what was the role of Shruti Seth. Feeling pity for her.She is doing such B,C,D.. grade roles. I was a fan of her on TV but now I have my sympathy with her.

    • Sanjay Mehta says:

      Thanks, Hitesh.
      The character that Shruti Seth played was actually interesting. There is this element of ambitious young women politicians and I think, journalists too, who can go to any lengths, just to get a break into the political system. Much like a casting couch in films, there is a reality of women sleeping their way to political entry and growth. Similarly for wives of armed forces, I have heard! From portraying political reality, it was a good move. Whether Shruti Seth should have done that role or not, is a different matter.. ! After all, in an ensemble cast, everyone gets their few minutes on screen, and she was not even one of the bigger stars, so she got even lesser!

      • Hitesh says:

        Yeah.. the character was a hidden truth of women molestation and over ambitious women. Probably being a Shruti Seth fan I couldn’t accept her in such role. So, I hope you are soon be presenting something of much awaited RAWAN 🙂

      • Sanjay Mehta says:

        Sure, Hitesh..
        Ravan looks very dark though. For Mani Ratnam, have to see it..

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