Most people know I don't have a lot of love for Bollywood of late. There are a rare few gems that the industry churns out (usually the ones with Aamir Khan starring) but otherwise it's mired in insane storytelling, over the top aesthetics and 'acting' and more focus on vulgar portrayals of 'beauty' than paying service to the beauty of story and/or character - or lack there-of.
It was with low expectations therefore that I went to watch 'Raajneeti', a film starring the hot and popular stars, Katrina Kaif and Ranbir Kapoor. I had been told that it was loosely based on the Indian epic, the 'Mahabharata'. I think I would fared better had I not been told that because I was constantly trying to align this story with that of the Mahabharata.
There are several shortcomings in this film. Firstly, there are no politics (raajneeti) in this story - it is basically a family feud film, which began resembling the Godfather half way through (i.e. the relunctant son who stays outside the dodgy spheres of his forefathers is roped in, in the name of family honour and ho hum, vengeance). I found it rather unsettling that each speech the wanna-be leaders dictated to their people was about their rival party and how they were going to get back at them or prove them wrong, etc etc. No one gave a damn about their electorate. Of course, this is an exaggeration somewhat but the fact that these parties encourage their followers to engage in their personal disputes induces a state of despair.
Secondly, the film is too long; it dragged and dragged with the outcome being both flat and powerless. I think this is in part due to Ranbir Kapoor's character of Samar - he was so void, he had one expression. I didn't know whether I was supposed to warm up to this man or feel pity for him or what...and you all know how I feel about stuff that doesn't make me feel anything :)
The acting was strong from veterans like Nana Patekar (saving grace of the entire film), Manoj Bajpai and Ajay Devgan. All the others floundered or were just plain useless.
And what about that random 30 sec 'club' scene that was injected in there - is that a mandatory requirement now, to have some slutty scene with flashing lights, just because you can? Clearly doesn't matter whether it serves the narrative.
The continual violence and blatant disregard for life and the lack of subtlety in political manoeuvrings left the film with no suspense - one was just waiting around for the next person to be shot or blown up. If the ending was supposed to inspire hope, I didn't buy it, I simply felt sorry for the next person who would be forced to get mired in dodgy decisions, corruptions and assassinations.