Beware! Here be spoilers!
Ignore, if you can for a few moments, the fact that Rajneeti borrows liberally from the Mahabharata and The Godfather. Ignore also the minor irritation brought on by the fact that the promos are all about Katrina Kaif doing a Sonia Gandhi, something that isn’t anywhere as significant in the grand scheme of things as it is made out to be.
Even then, a major irritant remains: this is a story that deserves to be played out over a decade or more, but is done over a few months instead. The result is akin to Woody Allen’s account of how he read War and Peace in twenty minutes after having taken a speed-reading course (“It concerns Russia”).
Then there is a catastrophic failure of a key scene where Kunti meets Karna and reveals her/his identity to him. It says something about the writing that this was the one scene in a three hour long serious movie where pretty much everyone in the theatre laughed uproariously. (I was considering asking you to let that pass as well, but realized that your charity could be stretched only so far.)
Aside: While on that topic, why does every Mahabharata adaptation have to include this scene. Wouldn’t it be interesting to write a Karna story where he never gets to know? Wouldn’t that make for a lovely tragedy?
These are the major problems. There is a whole host of minor ones that I will not even get into. What is most frustrating about these problems is that they screw up what looks like an extremely interesting setup and a bunch of characters worth spending quality time with.
Take the Ranbir Kapoor character, for instance. An absolute beauty of a character sketch, the sort that Whistler would label Arrangement in gray and black No. 42. And what is more, Ranbir is flat out brilliant in the role. His chemistry with Nana Patekar is something to behold. And yet, all the work he puts into creating this character is undermined by the implausibility of the events unfolding around him.
All of this would’ve added up to something wonderful, were it not for the violence and the number of deaths within the space of a few months. I mean, if I were the Election Commissioner and a whole bunch of big politicos got themselves killed in the run up to a general election, I’d sure as hell do something. The mortality rate in this family is so high that the Kennedys and Gandhis seem almost immortal in comparison.
Had Jha slowed things down a bit, taken out a few of the Godfather references and fixed a few of the performances, this could’ve been an awesome film. As it stands, I’m left with the description: It concerns politics.