Many of you read my recent review of “Kites” a Bollywood creation that on the whole was a disappointment. In “ Raajneeti” Bollywood’s tentacles have a firm grip on the Hollywood aesthetic. Thrilled, that in less than two weeks I can give a positive and enthusiastic “ thumbs up” to this legitimate drama.
Indians might or might not be pleased with this contemporary version of the Mahabharta.
Western audiences will immediately recognize the “The Godfather” theme but the film is also peppered with biblical references (Moses), Shakespearean intrigue (Hamlet, Richard III). But it is Mario Puzo’s brutal saga that is skillfully reproduced in “Raajneeti”.
The almost three hours of accelerated action satiated the lustful quest for blood, nerve twisting tension and romantic fantasies of the chained audience; no power could induce us to relinquish our seats.
The galvanizing and incisive performances of the established Bollywood actors captivated those familiar and unfamiliar with their esteemed abilities. Ajay Devgan (Sooraj) has a dark haunting countenance, masking incipient rage; wordlessly, he inspires terror and revulsion. Ranbir Kapoor (Samar) is wonderful as he sheds his idealism and innocence and is transformed into a hardened realist; the Al Pacino role in “The Godfather”.
His love interest Sarah (Sarah Thompson, the weakest and least defined character in the film); reminiscent of Diane Keaton’s portrayal in “The Godfather”.
At the risk of being pejorative my favorite Bollywood star of 2010 is Arjun Rampal (“Om Shanti Om”, “I See You”) ; he is startlingly beautiful, a lightening bolt, the camera covets him; in every scene he is the sun, all else, just pallid, amorphous clouds. He is the volatile Prithvi, his recklessness, a lethal weapon, the catalyst in changing the destinies of all he intertwines with.
Bollywood rears its predictable head with Indu, (Katrina Kaif); she is the pawn, chattel to be sacrificed on the alter of man’s political aspirations; she is wise, and clenches her dignity with a force of such purity that no man can tear it asunder. Katrina is a young, gifted actor; watching her talent mature will be a luxury for all her devotees.
Lest you be disappointed there is one brief dance number; the plot did not warrant a musical intervention and this in my estimation led to ………..