Can Raajneeti recover its Rs 60 crore investment?

Updated on Jun 04, 2010 12:30 PM IST

Prakash Jha’s modern-day Mahabharata has entered the battlefield today, with Rs 60 crore riding on it, and sky-high expectations. Reports mixed, prospects under scrutiny.

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HT Image
Hindustan Times | ByHiren Kotwani, Mumbai
Hrithik Roshan’s Kites has failed to fly high. But the trade continues to be optimistic about Prakash Jha’s political drama, Raajneeti. The film has Rs 60 crore riding on it. And with a clear two-week window, co-producers and distributors, UTV, is hopeful of making good their investment as the film opens today in 2100 screens worldwide, 1800 in India alone.

Veteran trade analyst Komal Nahta attributes the buzz to well-appreciated promos and an ensemble cast that boasts of big names like Nana Patekar, Ajay Devgn, Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Arjun Rampal, Manoj Bajpai and Naseeruddin Shah. “We haven’t had an ensemble cast film in a long time,” he points out, adding that he expects it to do better business in the Hindi belt.

Industry veteran Amod Mehra, however, is apprehensive given the high price at which the film was sold. “It is not a light entertainer, but an intense political drama that not only has to open big, but grow with every passing day too,” he reasons.

Rs 75 crore, good enough Nahta argues that even if it were to gross Rs 75 crore over the weekend, it would be good enough. Devang Sampat, senior vice-president, Cinemax, is equally optimistic and will play as many as 20 shows everyday. “The music has caught on, particularly More piya… and Ranbir (Kapoor) and Katrina (Kaif) can guarantee one of the biggest openings. Curiosity is high,” he avers.

Shaaminder Malik, a distributor in North India, is also upbeat given that Jha’s last two films, GangaaJal and Apaharan, made for interesting view. He says that though films in his territory do not get an advance booking, he is confident that Raajneeti will bring in a steady flow of collections because “Jha gives equal importance to all his lead characters”.

Mehra agrees that the highpoint of the film is its drama that unfolds through myriad characters. “There is definitely an increasing audience for this kind of cinema,” he says.

Siddharth Roy Kapoor, CEO, UTV Motion Pictures, will not be drawn into any discussion on projected earnings. “I’m sure we’ll get a good opening weekend and with two clear weeks, the signs are positive. Politics is just the backdrop of the story, the film is essentially a family drama. And then of course there’s the parallel with the Mahabharata that adds to its appeal,” he maintains.

Prakash Jha’s Last 3 Films at the box-office

Mrityudand (1997)
Cast: Madhuri Dixit, Shabana Azmi, Shilpa Shirodkar, Om Puri, Ayub Khan,
Budget: Rs 2 crore
Adjusted Net: Rs 19.25 crore

GangaaJal (2003)
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Gracy Singh, Yashpal Sharma, Mohan Joshi
Budget: Rs 5 crore
Adjusted Net: Rs 22.09 crore

Apaharan (2005)
Cast: Nana Patekar, Ajay Devgn, Bipasha Basu,
Budget: Rs 10 crore
Adjusted Net: Rs 31.38 crore

Figures courtesy:

From the press show
‘Katrina will have to wait for the National Award’
Bharti Pradhan, Editor, The Film Street Journal

Iliked the mix of The Godfather and Mahabharata. Rajneeti is definitely a film for mature audiences. The machinations of politics is better understood by an adult mind.

Ranbir Kapoor is superb, a desi Michael Corleone. Ajay Devgn disappointed, he deserves better. Katrian Kaif will have to wait for another film to win the National Award. She’s good but not good enough to merit the coveted honour.

Nana Patekar is wonderful. It’s hard to believe that director Prakash Jha and he wanted to kill each other during the making of the film. So is Manoj Bajpai, Biharis have politics in their blood.

Despite a running time of 2 hours and 40 minutes the film isn’t too long. But I wonder how many of the college-going crowd would be game for something so intense.

‘Unpredictability is its biggest strength’
Taran Adarsh, Trade Analyst

The story alters constantly, unraveling in a serpentine manner and speed... It keeps you awed at the constant turn of events. Clearly, unpredictability is its biggest strength.

Ranbir Kapoor, Arjun Rampal and Manoj Bajpai are outstanding. Surprising you with every film, Ranbir is one actor who can give the best in the business. Arjun is a revelation, pitching in a terrific performance. Manoj delivers the best performance of his career, playing the evil part superbly.

Ajay Devgn is sidelined in the second hour, but you need to give it to the actor for accepting and enacting his part with complete conviction.

Nana Patekar is brilliant, uttering the most acidic lines with a smile, which only an actor of calibre could’ve achieved.

Katrina Kaif is first-rate. The sincerity and earnestness shows in every sequence. She sheds her glam doll image and transforms into an actor with this film.

It requires courage to assemble a mammoth, ensemble cast, pick a story that does justice to each character and give the film the feel of an epic. Also, you ought to have comprehensive knowledge of the subject material -- politics, in this case. And for all these and more director Prakash Jha deserves all the praise possible.

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