Monday, 7 June 2010

Raajneeti

Raajneeti is a story about Indian politics. About Indian democracy. About Indian elections. Above all, it is the story of a few people who control the destiny of millions. It is the story of their unstoppable ambition, and their bitter and violent battle to achieve it. This is the story of people who understand power - and know how to wield it at will. Raajneeti is about politics. And beyond.

Director/co-writer Prakash Jha combines political intrigue, action, suspense, romance and drama all in one giant epic that chronicles the saga of the highly volatile and corrupt Pratap party. The main problem here, though, is that the dialogue comes across as very stilted while many scenes veer into melodrama that you’d expect to find in a soap opera. Expect plenty of twists, murders, deceptions, a car chase and even a rigging of votes via remote control. 

Samar (Ranbir Kapoor) helps to ground the film in a strong performance, but everyone around him is pretty much mediocre at best---especially Sarah (Sarah Jean Thompson) who gives such a wooden (betul ke perkataan ni;bad english-hahaha) performance that you’ll find yourself cringing whenever she speaks.

A taut, cynical portrait of India's current political landscape, Raajneeti plucks scenarios and characters right out of the The Godfather films; in both the physical look and narrative-trajectory, Samar is basically a Xerox of Al Pacino's pensive, quietly brutal Michael Corleone. Surprisingly, the film is sans musical numbers. Well, except one: an awkwardly inserted sing-and-dance club scene celebrating the soon-to-be-interrupted union between Samar and the girl who crushes on him, Indu (Katrina Kaif). 

At its best, this epic exposes the debacle that is India's democratic system: The two opposing party sides use sometimes violent, questionable policies to dethrone the other's fervid ambitions, and one unforgettable moment finds Samar's brother, Prithviraj (Arjun Rampal), maniacally bombarding the head of police with several armed guards, taunting him as he leaps into his lap in crazed fashion.

At an excessive running time of 2 hour and 47 minutes, Raajneeti (which translates as "Politics") is a contrived, overlong, convoluted and emotionally hollow political thriller that’s high on production values and style, but low on substance, palpable suspense and poignancy.

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