Raajneeti is a lengthy and problematic film. Although it tried to read like a modern Mahabharat, it ends up being a poor man’s version of The Great Indian Novel (by Shashi Tharoor).
For starters if you have no interest in politics don’t watch the film for the hype of the star-studded performance. No one truly shines with a solid performance, anyway. For the solid list of character actors the film is predicated on, not one character elicits enough sympathy within the audience. This may be because of the base problem in the script itself: everyone seems to either be playing multiple characters from the Mahabharat or the principal motivations have all been skewed bordering on disbelief.
Furthermore without a working knowledge of the Mahabharat it is rather difficult to follow the film. And if you have anything greater than a working knowledge you are sure to be disappointed by the bullet point version of the story. In trying to make a modern retelling Rajneeti lost both the original and the modern. Some of the language will definitely be lost on those who are not Hindi scholars and the rest to those who know little English.
Don’t look towards the music to be of any help either. Traditionally Bollywood film length and drama has been broken by the musical song and dance, Rajneeti has one ill placed and rather short rendition. Unfortunately the background score doesn’t win this film any favors either, as it is over dramatic and reclaims the scene for itself.
Stripped down to its core the film lacks proper development, however it does make the audience think. If it is true that you learn more from mistakes than success, this film forces everyone who watches it to think about story and character as by products of one another. The best thing about Rajneeti is its literary challenge and that isn’t saying much, considering the other films coming out of India today.