Praz Gold : RAAJNEETI (Hindi, 2010)
I’ve always had a great weakness for Prakash Jha whether it be MRITYUDAND, GANGAJAL or APAHARAN. RAAJNEETI looked like his most hard-hitting film on politics to date as well as shot at delivering a box-office hit with a towering cast. Does the film live up to expectations? Not quite, though without a doubt it’s one of the most watchable films I’ve seen in recent times.
For those expecting a serious film on politics, will be disappointed as Jha shifts his focus away from the seriousness of politics to make a film far more focussed on merging in The Mahabharata in to the films story to re-tell a all too familiar tale in the garb of a masala drama and that’s where the film succeeds.
RAAJNEETI’s biggest problem is that it tries to cram too much in to one film, and while certain scenes stand out, the film by the end leaves the viewer exhausted.
At times, Jha lurks in to Varma territory as the film moves directly in to THE GODFATHER territory and has shades of both SARKAR and SARKAR RAJ with Ranbir Kapoor’s track. The explosion scene and certain key moments in the film echoes Michael Corleone and Jha makes this evident.
His key intent here seems to be gathering a solid multi-cast, giving them all some remarkable dialogues and letting their chemistry do the rest, and in that regard the film does work rather well. However if one was expecting a serious commentary on the Indian political system then they will be let down as the film avoids this for the most. The crowds in the film are used merely for gimmickry affect and RAAJNEETI in that regard is a total “blockbuster” unlike say GANGAJAL or APAHARAN which were far serious in tone.
In saying that, it’s not a bad film, however it’s not quite the film one was expecting from Prakash Jha (and I couldn’t help but think what the film would’ve been like in the hands of Raj Kumar Santoshi or Anurag Kashyap?
If there’s anything that works in the film it’s the films remarkable cast of which each and every actor and character delivers. For me, the cast and performance elevated this film from just being good, to something a lot more enjoyable, and a film I will certainly revisit many times moving forward.
Ranbir Kapoor delivers a fantastic performance. For me, this film was a real test to see whether he can hold his own against the likes of Nana, Ajay and Manoj and in my view, he not only holds his own, but shines! Given the most mysterious character in the film, Ranbir slips in to both the NRI based graduate, and the cold-blooded, ruthless political with equal ease. This is a character which has had far too many adaptions in recent times, and Abhishek Bachchan’s superlative act in the SARKAR series still remains fresh in the viewers minds, however in saying that, Ranbir does leave his own fresh imprint with a confident and efficient performance. Kapoor is no doubt taking strides left, right and centre, and this is another feather in his cap!
Nana Patekar is fantastic and Jha uses him to absolute perfection., Delivering some of the coldest lines with total calm and ease, Patekar’s mere presence in the film speaks volumes on behalf of his character.
Ajay Devgan has been unfairly criticized here. He plays his part competently, however hasn’t been given the right focus. This is a role Ajay could’ve played with his eyes closed.
Arjun Rampal is a surprise package and absolutely fantastic as the hot-headed older brother. He treats his part like a masala romp which works in his favour and this is one of Rampal’s most effective performance sin recent times alongside OM SHANTI OM and ROCK ON.
Manoj Bajpai is BACK! HURRAH! Delivering his lines like they were written by him and for him, it’s been a while since we’ve seen Bajpai in a worthy film, and he certainly doesn’t let the moment go by with a devilishly cunning performance which is pitch-perfect.
Katrina Kaif is clearly out of her depth here, however she does spring a surprise with a sober and controlled performance, which after NEW YORK goes down as one of her worthier acts on the “performance” front.
Nasseridian Shah has a very small part. Sarah Thompson Kane, Chetan Pandit, Dayashankar Panday and Darshan Jariwala are all great.
The background score elevates the film in a number of places and Sachin Kumar Krishnan’s camerawork captures the epic feel of the film really well.
All up RAAJNEETI is a winner in my view, and despite it’s flaws, it makes up for a entertaining watch.