Ashish Vaswani

To be really honest, I hate movie reviews. Be it the overrated Nikhat Kazmi and Mayank Shekhar articles that make or break the fate of the biggest masterpieces by trying to scale them on their ‘star’ meters, or the paid-for TV reviews that news channels like Aaj Tak usually air in the weeks preceeding the hype of a big release, they mostly if not always, are a mirror of what I feel about a movie. Latest in this league are internet sites like indiafm (aka bollywoodhungama) where people who call themselves trade analysts (a new epithet given to the same old movie critic) give you indepth analysis of why YOU should or should not watch a movie which THEY may or may not like. And I thought we lived in a democracy!

But I’m going to make an exception here. Today I want to tell you about my first day first show experience of watching Raajneeti. But before I begin to tell you about it, first a note of caution- I’ve liked the biggest of ‘flops’ (personally I don’t like this word, I’m using it only for the lack of a better one). I loved Kites that I saw last week and I thought Rann (hope you’ve heard of it- it stars Amitabh Bachchan and Ritiesh Deshmukh) was pretty okay too. The last film I really hated (and I can’t say that for more than a handful of them) was DevD. So if you’re the kind who’s looking for authentic star-meter dependent material, this piece is not for you to swear by, but you can still read it anyway, you’re most welcome!

Throughout this piece, I’ll try and not give you the plot away, but one thing I’d like to do is mention a few dialogues or scenes I liked in the movie, so that you can look out for them if you happen to watch it. I think that’s fair enough.

First things first, with a starcast like this, you’ve seriously got to have a pretty strong reason to avoid Raajneeti. Though Naseeruddin Shah is the only one who has an itsy-bitsy appearance in the beginning, more or less all others have a considerable screen presence. It was a pleasant surprise to see Arjun Rampal act, which can be taken as a fitting reply to silence critics who thought he didn’t deserve the National Award for Rock On. Nana Patekar’s role in the movie made me stand up and take notice of his acting prowess, something that I’d overlooked in the past. Even, Manoj Bajpai is sure to get a fresh lease of life after this one. Latest import Sarah Thompson also does a convincing job in the tiny role that she’s landed.

The promos do a great job of keeping the storyline hard to guess, since Katrina’s role is not entirely centred around what’s being highlighted. The flow of ideas is sewn well together and is capable of gripping the average movie-goer’s attention, making him/her wonder what new twist the next scene will bring. Raajneeti is the story of a family, it’s about power and politics and how these take a lead over everything else in life for that family. I personally liked a lesson which Nana gives Ranbir when he asks “गढ़े मुर्दों को खोदने  से क्या फायदा?”, the reply being, “राजनीति में मुर्दों को गाढ़ा नहीं जाता, उन्हें संभालकर रखा जाता है ताकि समय आने पर उनका मूह  खुलवाकर उनका इस्तमाल किया जा सके!"

A couple of really funny lines that I can’t stop myself from mentioning-

The driver is gifted an expensive watch by his sahib and is really elated to know that he’s so special to him. That’s when Ajay Devgn (it’s not a typo, that’s how he spells his name now!) comes up to him and retorts, “घड़ी दी है ताकि समय पर उनकी गाडी पहुंचा सको!" to spoil his party!

In a really serious scene, the depiction of Arjun Rampal singing Ankhiyan Churayun kabhi ankhiyaan milaaon kabhi….(from the 90’s Madhuri starrer Raja) is sure to evoke a chuckle.

Some events in the movie are highly dramaticized, as is the case with all Hindi movies. For example, there’s somebody getting murdered every few scenes and a few dramatic turns become slightly difficult to believe. Though after watching this movie, I didn’t feel it’s inspired by any individual or family in particular, chances are that you may find a few of the characters being based on a combination of real life personalities.

Prakash Jha has done a flawless job of narrating a kind of story that has always been his forte. Once again, he has succeeded in depicting the goonda raaj based politics of central India with perfection. The rustic UPwaala ‘hum’ instead of ‘main’, the execution of the huge crowd scenes and even the tiniest of nitty-gritties have been taken care of really well. Again, there are a few dialogues that I’d like to draw reference to, to make a point:

In one scene, Manoj Bajpai reminds his detractors, “आसमान पर थूंकने वाला यह भूल जाता है कि मूह तो उसी का गन्दा होने वाला है!  "

In another one, when the pesky paparazzi reminds Ranbir that the freedom of press obligates him to reply to their questions, his impressive reply is “हाँ, लेकिन आपकी आज़ादी को आप हमारा आतंक नहीं बना सकते!"

You’ll surely like this movie if you even remotely liked the Sarkar dilogy. And to those numbered few who happened to watch Rann like me, Jha has done exactly what Ram Gopal Verma tried to do in his movie, though this time, it’s with the perfection of a skilled craftsman who does an awesome job of storytelling with finesse and élan.

To sum it up, I’ll just say, be prepared for a heavy dose of action and drama and a full-too three hour paisa vasool blockbuster. After all, for me being a Sindhi, it feels much better spending three hours in an air-conditioned theatre watching a stretched out sensible movie for the same price that I pay for a one and a half hour no brainer!
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