New Delhi, June 9 (Calcutta Tube) Critical acclaim or box office earnings — most Bollywood films on politics have been able to manage one, not both. But Prakash Jha‘s full-on political drama ‘Raajneeti‘ has broken the jinx by earning almost Rs.62 crores (Rs.620 million) in the opening weekend.
Experts feel that the response to the film is proof enough that the Indian audience is opening up to better and intelligent subjects, says noted film critic Anupama Chopra.
‘ ‘Raajneeti’ (which means politics) has a powerful and engrossing script. The story and characters are engaging a lot of people. It goes a long way to prove that films don’t have to be funny and entertaining in the basic sense of the word. These days, if a film is engaging, it is entertaining and that’s what people grab,’ Chopra told IANS.
‘Raajneeti’ has big names like Ranbir Kapoor, Arjun Rampal and Katrina Kaif, but doesn’t have exotic foreign locales, glamour, item numbers or any other add-ons considered a must for a commercial movie. Yet this violent thriller on the clash between two brothers of a political family set somewhere in northern India has set the cash registers ringing.
‘I am very afraid to make films like these. It is not easy to work on these subjects because you just can’t go wrong. Then there is also the uncertainty of whether or not the audience will accept the film. It is all very risky, but I am glad people are taking it well,’ Jha, who has earlier made films like ‘Damul’ and ‘Gangaajal’, told IANS after ‘Raajneeti’ released Friday.
The filmmaker says he added a romantic streak to the script to increase the interest factor but took enough care not to let it overpower the main agenda.
Actor Manoj Bajpai, who has played a key character in the film, feels it is tough to helm a film on Indian politics.
‘Politics, especially in India, is one such topic on which making a film is an extremely difficult task. Actually, politics isn’t just about governing, but it also encompasses various aspects of human behaviour like greed, power, hate and oppression.
‘Encapsulating all these emotions in a two-and-a-half-hour film wasn’t an easy task, but ‘Raajneeti’ has not just tried to explore these complex emotions but has also tried to dwell deeper into politics,’ Manoj posted on his blog.
In the past, films like ‘Aandhi’, ‘Aghaat’, ‘Satta’, ‘Nayak’, ‘GangaaJal’, ‘Gulaal’ and ‘Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi’ made audiences sit up and take notice of crime and corruption in politics. But none turned out to be a money spinner.
Ram Gopal Varma, who earlier made ‘Shiva’ on student politics and is now busy with ‘Rakta Charitra’, a two part series on the life of slain political leader Paritala Ravindra, must be hoping that the ‘raajneeti’ trend continues.
‘The movie is so powerful that it will have a strong bearing on the politics of the region where it is based (Andhra Pradesh). It is based on real events and people and it is essentially an Indian political epic drama, on the rise and fall of a political superhero,’ said scriptwriter Prashant Pandey.
‘Raajneeti’ is one in a series of films trying to chart a different path. Recent unconventional hits have been ‘Bheja Fry’, ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’, ‘Dasvdaniya’, ‘A Wednesday’ and ‘Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye’ – they focused on complex subjects but had an entertaining undertone.
‘Our audience has definitely become more sophisticated and intelligent over the past 15-20 years and is totally open to every kind of movie – which is wonderful. But it is a generalisation to say the audience has become discerning. How else would you explain the success of films like ‘Welcome’ and ‘Housefull’?’ said Chopra.
‘The audience is more visually exposed these days. But that doesn’t mean they are ready for arty, European cinema. There’s still a long way to go,’ she added.
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)