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Raajneeti Reviews: First one up (ALL Reviews Here) (Page 3)

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AppleBlossom

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Posted: 03 June 2010 at 8:58am | IP Logged

Mayank Shekhar's Review: Raajneeti


Director: Prakash Jha
Actors: Ranbir Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Ajay Devgn, Manoj Bajpayee
Rating: ***

Ranbir Kapoor, the younger brother, plays what clichd cricket commentators would call a "cool customer". He has a life beyond his immediate family, is least interested in his ancestral business (politics), is settled in with a girlfriend abroad. Were it not for a tragic circumstance, he could continue with his innately quiet, private life.

The elder one (Arjun Rampal), fully enmeshed in the intricacies of his family's murky trade, is the mercurial dude; given to violent outbursts; his ego, quite easy to prick.

These two brothers Samar and Prithviraj could well be Michael (Al Pacino) and Sonny (James Caan) from the Corleone family in Godfather. Or, their equations may as much match the '80s siblings Rajiv (reserved), and Sanjay (rabid), from the Gandhi dynasty.

After his father's assassination, young Samar (Ranbir, first-rate) slips in like a fish into his family's dirty pond. This transition appears too hastily unexplained for someone who'd been pursuing for years a PhD in Victorian literature before this.

Bloodlines in this Rajput family tree are too complicated to recount. Suffice it to know, for simplicity's sake, the conflict is roughly over who's the heir to a political legacy: the eldest son (Manoj Bajpayee); or the younger brother and, given such a situation's arisen, his progenies (Prithviraj, Samar).

The latter also share a step-brother (Ajay Devgn), a locally popular Dalit youth leader. But no one knows this yet. He's Karn from the Mahabharat, picked up and elevated in the rival Kaurav camp. His birth also honours a popular Bollywood tradition: random one-night stands inevitably lead to instant pregnancies.

Nana Patekar, the Krishn like figure, manipulates from the backroom. In rajneeti, or politics, he says, "Faisle sahi ya ghalat nahin hote. Unka mol toh maksad poora karne ke liye hota hai. Chahe jaise bhi ho. (Decisions taken are never right or wrong. Their worth is restricted to meeting an immediate end: by hook, or by crook)."

Jha, the director, makes for an odd, relatively grass-root politician among mainstream filmmakers, if you may. Back in his home state Bihar; he's known to be close to its progressive CM Nitish Kumar. He's himself fought the general elections twice, both as a party candidate, and an independent from a hinterland constituency. Outside of a script from Karunanidhi (once a screenwriter himself), I suspect, we're unlikely to get a more authentically insider account of the intrigues within state politics, suited still for blockbuster cinema. Jha also knows a thing or two about producing shock and awe on screen. This helps.

It's clearly possible, the filmmaker smartly suggests here, to set the Mahabharat around India's present democracy, given the business of competitive politics is just as dynastic. The political party itself is the new monarchy.

He deftly shows us "the party's" abuse of news media, business, caste, qom (a religious vote-bank), coalitions, law courts, police, bureaucracy, even marriages and friendships: all to satiate a power trip. None of the actors assembled on stage let him down: right from an unusually inspired Rampal to his powerful, polar opposite Bajpayee.

What does the film in more than slightly is, but, the sheer commercial relentlessness of its drama. There's absolutely no relief, respite, rhythm, or 'thehrav' (for lack of a better English word). Impact of no tragedy calms this picture down. Introspection is wasteful; redemption, unnecessary. Eventually, when deaths become so cheap, so should your cinema ticket.

All characters finally discover for themselves their own awkwardly lame conclusions within enough sub-plots to pack in an entire Godfather trilogy. A state poll is the ultimate Armageddon.

It appears these politicians will either never contest another election, or the filmmakers will never make another film on politics. Editing of thought, let alone scenes, may not have been a poor idea in retrospect.

Jha's GangaaJal (2003, on vigilante justice) and Apaharan (2005, on politics behind a kidnapping and ransom industry) were, in comparison, finely focused works. The ambition of its sweep screws this up alone. This problem has as much to do with silly diktats of a mainstream multi-starrer as with the size of the Hindu epic the film supposes to borrow from.

There's a reason Mahabharat was a television series. Shyam Benegal could brilliantly adapt it around India's corporate boardroom, only for his contained minimalism (Kalyug, 1981).

What you sense here instead then is an over-dramatic, over-written screenplay: an over-boiled egg.

Just to let you in on a mental note I made smilingly stepping out of this film's interval: "You so know it when you're watching one of the most powerful Bollywood dramas ever!" I wish I could say that for the rest of the movie. Well. Halfway there then, I guess.

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AppleBlossom

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Posted: 03 June 2010 at 9:10am | IP Logged

Raajneeti

Nikhat Kazmi

Story: It's a bloody battle for political power between the rival claimants of the Pratap family. When the venerable elder suffers a paralytic stroke, the seat of power automatically shifts to his younger brother, much to the discomfiture of his son, Manoj Bajpayee who considers himself to be the rightful heir to his bed-ridden father's throne. He can't see his rival cousins, Arjun Rampal and Ranbir Kapoor, rising to power while he is left simmering in the shadows. He seeks the assistance of dalit leader, Ajay Devgn to play his political cards and clear the path for his ascent to the top job (party president/chief ministership), even if it means traversing a blood-strewn and violent road that leads through assassination and fratricide. Of course, he underestimates the power and political shrewdness of the supposedly apolitical youngest cousin, Samar Pratap Singh (Ranbir Kapoor) who ostensibly came to India from New York on a short vacation but ended up playing the role of Arjuna in a veritable political Mahabharata, with Krishna-like Brij Gopal (Nana Patekar) guiding him through the intrigue.

Movie Review: Welcome to the return of story and plot to popular cinema. Of late, Hindi cinema had been floundering in a plotless marshland, where you either had to merely laugh at madcap situational goof-ups, which were mostly unfunny, or gawk at action cuts, loosely strung by a paper-thin one-liner posing as the plot. By and large -- exceptions notwithstanding -- the good, old-fashioned 'kahani' had gone missing in mainstream lore. Raajneeti marks the return of twist-and-turn drama to contemporary cinema, which indeed is a refreshing turn of events. The film basically anchors its plot in two classic tales -- The Mahabharata and The Godfather -- to create an engrossing diatribe on India's political system where democracy may prevail, but not in its purest form. Dynasty, lawlessness, violence and misuse of power are the ugly underbelly of India's not-so-clean political framework where the battle for the ballot is waged almost like war: unprincipled, belligerent and bloody.

Director Prakash Jha has always been a master story-teller (remember Gangajal, Apharan). This time, his political thriller unfolds as the quintessential Pandava-Kauravas conflict from the Mahabharata, with most of its characters tracing their antecedents to the epic. And that brings us to the second high point of Raajneeti: its fleshy and form-filled characterisations. If you go character-spotting, it won't take long before you discover a modern-day Yudhishthir in Arjun Rampal, an Arjuna in Ranbir Kapoor, a Krishna in Nana Patekar, a Duryodhana in Manoj Bajpayee and a Karna in Ajay Devgn. And as these half-brothers fight out their brutal war for the political domination of the state, spilling over with its dynastic and caste politics, you begin to see shades of The Godfather too in Ranbir Kapoor's interpretation of Arjuna. The young actor presents an engrossing desi portrait of Michael Corleone as Samar, the reluctant, albeit ruthless rookie who plays the political game with masterful strokes. Setting aside his academic ambitions to teach in NYU, he is thrown into the deadly vortex after an untimely assassination and learns the rules of the unethical political sport, faster than anybody else. Of course, he does have the experienced stalwart, Nana Patekar by his side, to guide him, his explosive, impulsive elder brother, Arjun Rampal to hug him, vivacious childhood buddy, Indu (Katrina Kaif) to adore him and American girlfriend Sara (Sara Thompson) to whisper sweet-nothings in broken Hindi to him....But by and large, he strategises alone, like Mikey in his high-backed chair, and unleashes one bloody ace -- from up his sleeve -- after the other. And, there is little the rival camp, headed by Manoj Bajpayee and Ajay Devgn, can do, other than hiss, rave and rant. Absolutely engrossing fare.

Add to this, a dash of topicality -- Ms G riding the sympathy wave factor -- and you have a compelling thriller on contemporary India's politicalscape. Interestingly, Katrina Kaif seems to slip into the high-powered shoes easily with her awkward accent and climax speech which emphasises her vulnerable status and evokes a mandate on the basis of public sympathy. She looks as uncomfortable as you-know-who does on public platforms. But back home, as the sparkling and seductive Indu who tries her best to transform her childhood buddy, Ranbir into her romantic lover, she is quite-quite irresistible and makes you wonder why Ranbir would choose the somewhat pheeka (jaded) firangi, Sara, over this spunky fireball.

Performance-wise, the film scores with its gritty ensemble cast that creates credible characters. Nana, Ajay, Manoj and Arjun grab eyeballs in almost all their scenes. If Nana holds the plot together, almost like a sutradhar, Ajay returns to his impeccable angry avatar as the Dalit leader, Manoj Bajpayee brings back memories of his mesmeric performances in films like Satya and Zubeida and Arjun Rampal once again transcends his eye-candy visage after Rock On. Even Naseeruddin Shah pulls you up with his miniscule cameo as the revolutionary leader who makes khicchdi -- and love -- when he's not delivering fiery speeches. But the film finally belongs to Ranbir Kapoor who perfects the art of minimalism -- and literally grows before your eyes -- as the simmering volcano that cannot be held back, once it erupts. He's as grey and soot-filled, as volcanoes go....Also, there's no forgetting the intelligent script by Prakash Jha and Anjum Rajabali and the thriller-like narration, which does begin on a confusing note, but soon settles down as a racy-pacy, action-packed political drama. The audio track too boasts of some compelling numbers (Bheegi si, Mora Piya, Dhan Dhan Dharti) but the film does not leave much space for them.

Take time out for a serious and compelling celluloid experience. Don't miss Raajneeti.

A word about:
Performances: Everyone's watchable. Ranbir Kapoor's immensely watchable. Katrina's carefree and camera-unconscious.
Story: Prakash Jha and Anjum Rajabali stylishly reinterpret the Mahabharata -- with a dash of The Godfather -- in contemporary tones.
Dialogue: It's straight from the Hindi heartbelt, with a realistic blend of English and Hinglish.
Cinematography: Sachin Kumar Krishnan's camera creatively zooms both into the political and domestic arena.
Music: Rajneeti boasts of an ensemble cast of music directors too who create a value-for-money audio track with three must-listens: Bheegi Si (sung by Mohit Chauhan and Antara Mitra and composed by Pritam), Mora Piya (sung and composed by Aadesh Srivastava) and Dhan Dhan Dharti (sung by Shankar Mahadevan, composed by Wayne Sharp).
Stylising: Arjun's in stylish neta attire (kurta-pyjama), Ranbir in urbane chic, minus the pink T's, Katrina grows from small town girl, bindi et al, to stiff sari-clad political leader.
Inspiration: Raajneeti is a tangy masala mix of the Mahabharata rustled up with a garnishing of The Godfather.


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ladygagagujunpyo

AppleBlossom

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AppleBlossom

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Posted: 03 June 2010 at 9:19am | IP Logged
Filmfare's review

Director: Prakash Jha
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Ajay Devgn, Nana Patekar, Manoj Bajpai and Arjun Rampal
Release Date: 2010-06-04 00:00:00
Quick Take: Political seduction at its best

For a country so rooted in our mythology Raajneeti might be an intriguing film. What Prakash Jha has done is, he has taken the Mahabharata and turned it around on its head cleverly. The setting is India's political scenario and the allusion to the mythological characters is neat and never overdone.

There is Krishna and there is Arjuna. We have a dalit Karna and a Duryodhan who is as conniving and resentful as we know him.
And then there is drama. It oozes out of the screenplay, spills over into the screen. The tempo is high, there isn't a moment's respite. Everything is happening all at once and you need to pay keen attention to keep abreast of all the political mumbo jumbo strewn around. This was a film that could have gone horribly wrong. And thankfully it has come out wonderfully right.

The pace is near perfect. The screenplay is forceful and the story as we may have mentioned before is as old as the hills. The metaphors are subtle and never aggressive. If you are going to look for every subplot in the Mahabharata to be present here, you are looking at the wrong film. The film uses the epic as a fine bed to slather on its many layers. The core is right here-of power, politics, hatred, manipulation, conspiracy, war and ultimately victory. But at what cost?

Raajneeti is a film that draws you in and keeps you engrossed. This is political seduction at its best. The characters though derived are original. You have an Arjuna (Ranbir Kapoor) who is all set to get a PHD and whose thesis is based on the 'sub textual emotional violence in 19th century Victorian poetry.' He goes from wanting that PHD to wanting revenge. Ranbir is light on his feet with this role. He shows no signs of having tried too hard and yet he leaves a strong impression. Arjun Rampal pitches in a surprisingly nuanced performance. And are politicians really allowed to look that good? His chemistry with the film as such and his co-stars is amazing. Nana Patekar seems to have eased through what could be one of the most restrained roles of his career. His presence is strong yet never obtrusive. Manoj Bajpai is fabulous. Katrina's casting is a little mystifying as the role doesn't require a girl with an accent but to give her credit, she tries her best. And towards the end of the film, she gets into the 'neta' persona beautifully be it her walk or her body language. Ajay Devgn as Suraj brings in his trademark intensity. But the Karna angle of the film is weakest. This is the character you should ideally feel sympathy for. And sadly you don't. The character is not etched as finely as you would imagine. Even the face off between Suraj and his biological mother is tepid and uninspiring. This is the only weak link in the film. The climax too leaves you wanting a little bit. It seems a little hurried and clumsy and Suraj's death lacks the required melodrama.

That said, Prakash Jha is a deft juggler. He has so many balls up in the air all at once and he maneuvers them all with enviable skill and dexterity. This is a film designed to impress. And it does so successfully for most parts. Raajneeti is a war cry you can't ignore.

Sukanya Venkatraghavan


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ladygaga

AppleBlossom

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Posted: 03 June 2010 at 9:49am | IP Logged
Raajneeti: Absorbing palette straight from Mahabharata
Kaveree Bamzai

Director: Prakash Jha
Starring: Nana Patekar, Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif
Rating:

All right, I know what you want to know.
No, Katrina Kaif is not Sonia Gandhi. She speaks Hindi much worse than Mrs Gandhi and though she plays a widow in the film, she ends up in power, as opposed to the person who listened to her inner voice.

No, Ranbir Kapoor is not Rahul Gandhi. Or Rajiv Gandhi. Or Sanjay Gandhi. Not unless any of them has ever blown up the car of an opponent, murdered their own kin (he's Arjuna from the Mahabharata you see, so I'm not giving much away), or even come within a week of doing a PhD on the subtextual violence in 19th century Victorian poetry.

And no, Bhanu Pratap Singh's family is not the Gandhis. Not unless any of them has had a dalliance with a revolutionary, had a brother who lies paralysed in hospital and another who was shot dead in a staged traffic jam. And I know, I know, I will sound like an aunty, but it's not a bad thing that the CBFC snipped off some sex. There's quite a bit of it already for a movie graded U/A.

But folks, what a movie.
Prakash Jha is a filmmaker who concentrates on the story. Follow the characters, all else will fall in line. It does. It's an absorbing palette he draws for us, straight from the Mahabharata. There's Bhaskar Sanyal, the revolutionary, played by Naseeruddin Shah, who is Surya. There's Brij Mama, the wise counsel, played by Nana Patekar, who is Krishna. There's Prithvi, the hotheaded challenger played by Arjun Rampal, who is Bhim. There's Samar, the calm, focused younger brother, played by Ranbir Kapoor, who is Arjuna. There's Manoj Bajpayee as Virendra Pratap, the scheming Duryodhana; Ajay Devgn as Sooraj Kumar, the illegitimate son, Karna; and yes, Katrina Kaif or Indu Pratap as Draupadi. Who's Sarah Thompson? Well, she's just plain Sarah, with an accent that oddly matches Kaif's.

It's a film often brutal and quite violent, in its sex scenes as well as gunslinger scenes. There's a man caught in bed with another man, a woman felt up by a man and brought to orgasm in front of a mirror, a shower scene and even a bed scene, done tastefully keeping Kaif's A-list status in mind. Jha doesn't believe in sparing the sledgehammer. Car bombs go off, shootouts take place in deserted garages, enemies are axed. The dialogue doesn't spare anyone. "Hamari roti unse nahin chalti. Unki roti hamse chalti hai,'' says Devgn, the kabaddi champion and driver ka beta turned Dalit neta. Chief ministers drive around in Mercedes, the financier's daughter coasts along in a Lexus convertible, dreaming of the day she will become the youngest minister in the state with a lal batti, the mother is always in the kitchen fixing breakfast and the girlfriend is always clingy.

Everyone will do anything to get a ticket. Sleep with a rising politician, align with an enemy, sup with the devil. There is not much effort at subtlety but not much is needed. This is a landscape that is dipped in tomato sauce red blood. It requires the purple rhetoric to match it. Rampal, sniggering at an arriviste, says: "Raajneeti ko public transport ki bus samjh rakha hai, haath dikahaya aur chad gaye?'' "Musalman muthi nahin kholega abhi," says a Muslim leader to the Krishna-Arjuna-Bhim triumvirate. "Power paida karen hum log, aur button unko de? Yeh videshi candidate band karne hoge," says Devgn's character to the people of his basti, Azadpur.

Samar, part Arjuna, part Michael Corleone (down to an accident with a car bomb which I cannot give away), is the central fulcrum on whom the movie rests. He is watchful, silent, allowing his rage to grow. There he sits smoking, playing chess on his BlackBerry, with a chessboard on the wall (I did say that Jha likes to underline everything), and plots, and plots. He plots selling his brother to the businessman to finance the election, he plots the rival Kaurava endorsement of Prithvi at a public rally, he plots the downfall of Duryodhana, and he plots the victory of his family. That's the leitmotif of the movie: family above all and the family firm above everything else. Kapoor is excellent as the thoughtful Samar, who waits for the dominos to fall, seeing every scenario unfold in his mind's eye, journeying into the heart of darkness.
What is Kaif doing here, with her Donald Duck lips and her accented English? Waiting to transform into a widowed martyr, who asks the voters to dry her tears. It's only then that she comes alive. Jha could have done a lot of things better. He could have done with less clunky scene between Devgn and his mother, Kunti/Bharti (played by newcomer Nikhila Trikha) confronting Karna after all those years. He could have avoided the too-tidy dialogue between Kapoor and Kaif at the end. He could also have snipped even the brief item song entirely. But those are minor quibbles. This is an ambitious film, which manages to say much about politics today. Yes, it does bring out the shaitan (devil) in men. Yes, the poor do want the government to be liberated from its self appointed responsibility to "remove poverty", which is just another name for corruption. Yes, it does show that identity politics has only deepened with development, not become less virulent. And yes, it shows that money matters, always.

For its stirring lines (raajneeti main mudde gade nahin jate, zinda rakhe jate hain-issues are never buried in politics, just kept alive), its powerful confrontations, and more twists than in the road to hell, this is a film that will engage you and entertain you. Prakash Jha and Anjum Rajabali take a bow.

And yes, Ranbir Kapoor, you too. It's a performance that is studied and yet so spare.


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ladygaga

ladygaga

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ladygaga

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Posted: 03 June 2010 at 9:57am | IP Logged
Woooohooo!!! Wow thanx for posting all the reviews Appleblossom! Wow so far so good.. hope it continues.. looks like a rocking large scale drama... there seem to be few glitches but I guess from the reviews its seems that the movie has managed to overcome those.. hopefully positive reviews keep coming *fingers crossed*

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AppleBlossom

lovanika

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Posted: 03 June 2010 at 10:32am | IP Logged
Excellent...
 
Loving it....All reviewa re for Ajay, Nana, Manoj and Ranbir ....good one
 
While the publicity was for Ran-KAt the reviews ar eSOLEY based on performances of Ajay, Nana, Manoj and Nassru..the so called OLDIES...
 
Wasn't Prakash talking about NAtional award for KAtrina and Ranbir.....well....
 
Lets wait for the public reviews...
 
 

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-Aleeza-

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Posted: 03 June 2010 at 10:33am | IP Logged
Alotta praises for Biru.. im excited now !

Aashu75

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Posted: 03 June 2010 at 10:34am | IP Logged
""What is Kaif doing here, with her Donald Duck lips and her accented English? Waiting to transform into a widowed martyr, who asks the voters to dry her tears. It's only then that she comes alive. "
 
OMG!!LOLLOLLOLLOL this critic is funny!!LOL

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