...along with strong characters, fertile women, large dialogues and extremely bloody violence.
There are movies, and I have seen many over the last couple of years, in which one needs to hold ones breathe to wait for the better scenes to come by, or 'indulge' some parts of the movie either because one hopes the other parts are better or one has read rave reviews of the movie. Then there are some other movies where we have been asked to leave our brains at home. While I occasionally do enjoy those movies, sometimes they become so mindless that the head hurts.
Fortunately, Rajneeti does not fall under any of the above. The storyline, though predictable due to it being adopted from Mahabharata, is still engrossing. Add to that some 'karara' dialogues and strong characters, and it was a great watch for close to three hours.
However, a movie which truly reflects a lot of research put together also throws up some glitches, and I wish they did not exist and we could have had a 'perfect' movie.
1. Naseeruddin Shah: What was he doing in the movie? And how believable is it, even for a young girl, who hero-worships him, to actually have one-night stand (for want of a better word) with him? Given that the total screen time was all of 10 minutes or less, anyone, slightly younger and a little more attractive, could have done a better job, seriously!
2. Character building: For a movie which rested on larger-than-life characters and grand dialogues, the characters were oddly one-dimensional. For e.g. it is not clear whether Ajay Devgan's character was only evil or if he had some goodness in him. He has been under-utilized and though in some scenes he lets his expressions speak volumes, for e.g. in the scene where he is introduced to the party cabinet as the new member, he does not really have much to do in the movie. Ranbir Kapoor's character is an utter confusion, or maybe I am getting this wrong - he is restrained, but much too restrained. Given his character's decisions and actions in the movie, I am not sure whether he really had any emotions for anyone. On the other hand, Arjun Rampal's character had a lot more shades, and whether it was due to his acting or the way the scenes came up, he comes across as a slightly disbalanced character - swinging between extreme emotions of tender love and violent hatred. And the mother's character - if the wooden face was to symbolize stoical sacrifice, the mother coming to the political party office and telling Katrina that women are always sacrificed in the altar of politics or something to that effect, was so very stereotypical. And 70's.
3. Weak scenes: What was the need of the mother-meets-illegitimate-son scene? Was it only to stay true to the epic? It just seemed as if the director had thought that there would be a scene, but then did not think what the dialogues should be. Otherwise how can one explain the mother's plea to the son to come home, and in the same breath, try to 'bribe' him with the highest post in the political party?
The sexual-favors-given-for-the-party-ticket scene between Shruti Seth and Arjun Rampal was crazy. Agreed that the scene was supposed to highlight that Shruti Seth's character was giving Arjun sexual favors for a party ticket, but the way she keeps repeating it in orgasmic tones when Arjun is apparently 'getting there' is ludicrous.
The scenes between Ranbir and Katrina, especially when Ranbir comes clean about his feelings or lack of feelings for her, is badly handled, or maybe badly acted. Katrina, till that time, had been good as the girl-in-love person, but that particular scene is devoid of any strong emotions, from any side.
4. Fertile women: Ah, this was my favorite. A few days back, rediff had done a feature on how some things are not seen in Hindi movies any more
. Well, of those things which have remained the same, this movie brings back the extremely fertile women who become pregnant after their first sexual encounter. Every 'good' woman in the movie - Katrina, Sarah, Ranbir's mother, were epitomes of fertile womanhood.
5. Jerky editing: Songs were not required, but if they were put in, then they need to be cut off at a logical point. This was most apparent with the 'Ishq Barse' song. Also, due to editing, I am sure, the underlying logic of planting a car-bomb was not made clear. On the face of it, it looked like the oppostion wanted to kill Ranbir's girlfriend, or any random person in their family who would go to the car. But probably, and this is just a hunch, they wanted to kill Ranbir, because he was considered more of a problem? I am sure the director did not want to leave this 'why' to be worked out by the audience.
Though the criticism that I have seem many, I genuinely liked the film, and would be happy if there are other films which can have at least the standard reached by Rajneeti. I would differ from everyone's opinion about Ranbir's acting though. He was fine, but I have seen him act better, and his character having more versatility - in Ajab Prem or Rocket Singh. Here, all that was needed of him was to smoke silently and keep his face devoid of any emotion.
It was a relief to see Nana Patekar so constrained and his breakdown in just one scene.
But my favorite was Manoj Bajpai - he rocked!
And oh, Katrina should take Hindi diction and acting classes.