The movie begins with a lady alighting from a black Mercedes, and giving food and clothes to the under-priviledged. It’s not any festival, so when one of them asks why she’s distributing food and clothes, another guy responds saying she’s been doing it for the last 30 years.
In a series of flashback, we get a peek into the life of Bharti Pratap, the daughter of the then CM (Darshan Jariwala). Inspired by a leftist leader, Bhaskar Sanyal (Naseeruddin Shah), she goes on to oppose her father and joins Bhaskar’s party. One day, she goes to Bhaskar’s house, it starts raining. When she goes out in the rain and starts dancing, Bhaskar is worried that she would catch cold and goes with an umbrella to bring her back inside (he’s pretty elderly and the gesture so long is kind of fatherly from Bhaskar’s end. But it’s obvious that Bharti is not just impressed with his ideologies but is also in love with him as well). Bhaskar, in that one moment of weakness gives in, and they end up sleeping together. But when later on he comes back to his senses , he takes the blame for whatever happened, which he feels is wrong. He writes a note to her and leaving everything and everyone behind, he simply disappears. As expected, Bharti is pregnant with Bhaskar’s child.
Brij Gopal (Nana Patekar), CM’s secretary and Bharti’s muh-bola bhai, takes Bharti’s child and leaves him in a boat. He then convinces her to get married to Chandra Pratap ( Chetan Pandit). The Pratap family consists of two brothers - Bhanu Pratap and Chandra Pratap. Bhanu Pratap, the elder one, leads a Political party and is supported by his younger brother Chandra Pratap. Bharti’s marriage to him is also a political deal to save the party from collapsing.
Coming back to present, there’s a Kabbaddi match going on in a village named Aazaadnagar and Suraj (Ajay Devgan) emerges as the winner.
He comes back home with the trophy to find his father, Ram Charan’s ( I hope I remember the name corectly, there were so many characters, it was kind of tough to keep up with everybody’s name) Mercedes parked infront of the house. He takes the car and goes for a drive. When Ram Charan, the driver of the Pratap household, finds the car missing, he is worried thinking he’ll get late. He is supposed to go to the airport to receive, Samar,who’s coming from the US. After touring the lanes of the village, Suraj comes back with it. And finally Ram Charan goes to the airport. Samar (Ranbir Kapoor), brings a new watch for him and he’s so delighted. On their way home, they are stopped by Indu (Katrina Kaif) who insists on driving Samar home.
Samar, Chandra Pratap’s younger son, is doing his Phd in US and has to submit his thesis the following week. He has come just for a few days for Bhanu Pratap’s birthday. Brij, now lives in Banaras, and when he hears of Samar’s arrival, he comes over to meet him. During the birthday party, Bhanu Pratap suffers a stroke and he’s taken to the hospital. The stroke leaves him paralyzed, and under the circumstances he hands over all his political responsibilities to Chandra Pratap and Prithvi Pratap (Arjun Rampal), Chandra Pratap’s elder son.
This leaves Virendra Pratap (Manoj Bajpai), dejected and rebelious. Being Bhanu Pratap’s son, he feels he had the birth-right to succeed his father and rebels his father’s decision of handing over the power to Chandra Pratap. When Prithvi decides on Jeevan Kumar as the election candidate of Aazaadnagar, Suraj opposes to him saying their leader must be someone among them, a Dalit like themselves. Encouraged by his friends, he himself files a request for an election ticket, which Prithvi rejects. But Virendra, determined on opposing everything that Chandra Pratap and Prithvi do, demanding his constitutional right, declares Suraj as the election candidate from Aazaadnagar and takes him under his wing.
Inspite of being a part of such a powerful political family, Samar is not interested in politics and he opts to become a professor after completing his Phd. He’s all set to leave, he even calls his girlfriend, Sarah ( Sarah Jean Thompson) and tells her that he’s coming back. Chandra Pratap, who was busy taking care of the political responsibilities all this while, suddenly realizes that he hardly got to spend time with Samar. So he decides to drive him to the airport. Samar is kind of uncomfortable with all the fuss that his father’s security men are creating at the airport and blocking the traffic, so he tells Chandra Pratap to return and that he would go in by himself. As Chandra Pratap is returning, he gets a call and rushes off. Samar is waiting at the airport and gets up when his flight is announced. Just then he hears the news of an attack on his father on tv. He hurries to the hospital where Chandra Pratap is taken to. On reaching he witnesses, Inspector Sharma ( Kiran Karmakar) arresting Prithvi, who was a little aggressive and hyper about the attack and raised his hand on Inspector. When Samar tries to interfere, Sharma slaps him so hard that he literally falls down rolling on the ground (and my heart almost broke at this sight). Brij comes and handles the situation and asks Samar to apologize, which he obligingly does. Prithvi is arrested and is taken to jail. Samar and Brij do all they can to save Chandra Pratap, but in vain.
It happens that Virendra and Suraj had framed the plot and got Prithvi arrested. They provide Sharma with lots of charges and evidence against Prithvi. Samar strikes a deal with Virendra and Suraj that if all the charges against his brother are taken off, he’ll leave for US for good with his whole family. But on being released, Prithvi forms his own party and contests the election with Brij as his mentor and Samar as his Assistant cum guide.
When they run short of funds to finance their campaign, Samar offers to marry Indu (who’s madly in love with him but whom he had rejected earlier), whose father is the only person they see capable of catering to their financial needs at the moment. When Bharti goes to ask for Indu’s hand for Samar, her father says he wants his daughter to get married to the future CM. If Samar has no intentions of becoming one and he’s only helping Prithvi then he might as well get her married to Prithvi. Samar is least bothered, he was never in love with her. Prithvi, is quite reluctant in the beginnning to marry Indu, knowing that she loves Samar, but Samar manages to convince him that he was never in love with her. Thus, Prithvi and Indu get married, and fueled by Suraj, media creates quite a scene about Prithvi-Indu-Samar triangle.
Meanwhile, Sarah arrives. As Samar is tied up in family matters in India and given the situation, there is no way he could go back anytime soon, she decides to come and see him.
There are two rival parties now within a family – Virendra and Suraj on one and Prithvi (with Samar and Brij) on the other. Both the parties try every trick to ensure their victory in coming elections.
Allegations and counter-allegations are made. On an attempt to achieve their ambitions and thus the power to rule, everybody turns so manipulative that the line between good and evil almost disappears, making it impossible to distinguish heroes from villains.
As it turns out, Suraj is Bharti’s son (remember the child whom Brij had left in a boat?) and she asks him to leave Virendra and join Samar, but he’s too loyal to Virendra to betray him. And his loyalty towards the Virendra threatens to ruin his own family.
Raajneeti, as the name depicts is politics all the way – dirty and ugly – where love, friendship and relationships just don’t count – where people’s lives are mere baits. One hardly gets time to mourn a death. Before you realize that someone has been killed, there’s another murder, scheme being plotted. It’s all about winning. It’s a complex story of people (or rather story of complex people), with unstoppable ambitions and hunger for power, who can go to any extent to achieve them, who will stop at absolutely nothing to reach the top .
Though it’s not my kind of a movie, it was one of the movies I had been eagerly looking forward to. Thanks to Ranbir Kapoor. I just love this guy. I’m usually not very keen on watching these kind of movies. I know it sounds strange, but I havent seen Gangajal or Apaharan yet or even Omkara for that matter. But ever since I got to know that Ranbir was doing this movie, I knew I had to see it.
Coming back to Raajneeti, amazing star-cast, and what a power-packed performance! I didn’t find Bharti very convincing, but otherwise, I was simply amazed by the charaters – each of them fitted the bill so well. I must admit that I missed Atul Kulkarni though. Somehow, I felt he should also have been a part of this movie.
One more confession, I have never been very fond of Katrina. She’s very good looking, no doubt about that, but I find all her roles the same and so I was little apprehensive about her presence here, but I acutally liked her in this movie. I felt she looked her best here (she looked gorgeous and and very graceful in – Saree + Bindi + Sindoor) and except for the oath-taking part - even acting wise she was good.
There’s nothing about Nana Patekar and Naseeruddin Shah that I can say here, which hasn’t been already said – Naseer steals the show with less than 5 mins of his role. And Nana, though not directly a political leader himself, he is one of the most pivotal characters. He drives the movie forward – from the opening scene till the climax, it’s he who decides the happenings.
Arjun Rampal – A born leader and a good man but with very less control over himself (does that sound contradicting?). He has done a fabulous job being impatient and a man to react to things too early without thinking of the consequences.
Chetan Pandit and Darshan Zariwala make their presence felt in their own way though they dont get much time on screen.
Manoj Bajpai – Fantastic actor and extremly convincing in the role of Virendra Pratap, the rightful hier of the throne who was denied of it and who’s set on getting it back at any cost.
Ajay Devgan : Again, very convincing as the angry young man, who opposes the exploitation of the poor by rich and trapped in a dilemma of choosing between the man who made him what he is and his mother who had abandoned him at birth.
Shruti Seth – I had usually seen her in a bubbly and carefree role, be it in tv serials or her short role in Fanaa. It’s a different role altogether here – an opportunist and she has done it pretty well.
Kiran Karmakar - The typical Bollywood police officer, who is a puppet in the hands of a politician.
Sarah – Who has witnessed terrible violence as a child, and who wants to keep people whom she loves away and safe from it. And in an attempt to protect others she herself falls a prey to it. An innocent soul who asked for nothing, but lost everything, all in the name of love.
(Apart from the man himself, I also love the watch that he’s wearing)
Ranbir Kapoor – The most manipulative and treacherous characters of all. The only character with no interest in politics initially, almost an outsider in his own (political) family, a man with simple dreams, who’s very much in love with Sarah and who Indu is madly in love with; but who reluctantly gets drawn into it and in such a manner that he ends up mastering the craft of political warfare and doing things he had never imagined himself capable of. His simple intention of protecting his family after his father’s death takes him to the extent where he fails to recognize himself. He is his usual self one moment – cute and loving, who cares for everybody and the very next moment he’s distant and alien. Fantabulous performance - mindblowing portrayal of the character!!!
The scene where Chandra Pratap dies, he doesn’t utter a word, but it’s so moving – and this one incident changes everything he had ever planned in his life. And his reaction when he discovers what happened to his father was a cold-blooded murder and not a mere accident, and the way he seeks revenge.
The way he sits alone staring at the tv, with his cell phone in one hand and cigarrette in the other manipulating his next move - I just couldn’t help admiring him, even knowing that he’s plotting his next scheme, which could even cost somebody his life.
In the entire movie he appears so matured as an actor, that I almost forgot it’s just his 6th movie. I’m truly fascinated and so much in love with this guy! Though story wise, it’s Nana Patekar who drives the movie (having known Nana for so many years, it’s expected of him to perform well), for me it’s Ranbir who steals the show – be it story-wise or performance wise.
The plot lends heavily from two sources - The Mahabharat and The Godfather. Bharti-Suraj part resembles a lot to Kunti-Karna story in Mahabharat and Samar’s roles and all the happenings in and around his life are heavily borrowed from the Godfather. Nana Patekar’s role in the climax again resembles Krishna’s role in the battle field of Kurukshetra.
It’s the story of a fiercely fought election campaign, where money, power, corruption, betrayal, murders, treachery and manipulation are the accepted norms and the most common weapons used. It’s politics – at its ugliest or should I say at its best, within family and beyond. A battle amongst the equals – among those who understand and aim for power, those who rule the destiny of millions of people, those who compromise and sacrifice on everything they hold precious just to win the race and to reach on top.
We have been discussing this movie for the last two days….a teammate of mine asked me how it is and before I could answer, another teammate of mine said : “Thik hi hai….nahin dekha hai toh rehne do na….kya karoge dekhkar. Har 45 mins mein (rest of us who had seen the movie expected him to say – “every few mins, somebody is killed”), koi aake kehti hai ke – ‘ I’m pregnant!’ yeh kya movie hui? ( It’s ok if you haven’t watched it yet. You are not missing anything much. Every 45 mins, some or the other girl comes and claims to be pregnant.) And we all were literally rolling down with laughter. That was all he noticed in the movie. But different people, different views.
Only few lines of Bheegi si bhaagi si and Mora piya are played in the background. They are just promotionall songs. Even the item number by Barkha Bisht was cut short into few lines.
P.S : A friend of mine just sent me this tweet he had come across few days back that said : ”the movie never fails to deliver – everyone becomes pregnant without fail, 100% success rate”