When asked by a reporter on why he made his son the Chief Minister, an Indian politician replied back saying ‘Then shall I make Bhajan Lal’s son the Chief Minister?’ The politician could’ve said that his son was a fine leader and had served the people. But his statement made no pretence of denying that politics is driven by nothing other than the lust of power, and once it is acquired, politicians want to pass it on, like a material possession, to their progeny.
As far as Prakash Jha’s film Rajneeti is concerned, Manoj Bajpai too plays a politician who wants to achieve that power to rule. Speaking exclusively to Bollywood Hungama, he said, “Rajneeti is a rule to rule the country. It is a reflection of today’s politics that we see and experience in a family conflict with politics being the backdrop. The primary concern in politics is the nation. There are people in it for power, some are there for social service, etc. So it depends on person to person.” Surprisingly, Manoj was to choose one of the two roles he was offered by director Prakash Jha to play. Though he didn’t want to reveal the name of the actor who is playing the role he rejected, but to everyone’s surprise, he picked up the grey shade which he thought suits him the best. “Prakash gave me two options. He asked me to choose from the two characters. One was a grey shade and the other had a bit of a white shade which is now being played by another actor in Rajneeti. I am very happy with my role because my role was posing a great challenge as I had to depend a lot on my own ability to look good and excel. Nothing I put on is for the sake of putting on. We needed this regal kind of a look for my role. He is a powerful guy and comes from a powerful family. He is the eldest son of the family and is a power hungry person”, Bajpai claims.
Aware of the fact that the film is highly inspired by the epic Mahabharata, Manoj isn’t too excited about the reasoning. He said, “Yes, politics is fought like Mahabharata because there is no black and white. The primary concern is the nation and everybody feels that it is their karma and duty to do things that they are assigned to do. Likewise in Rajneeti, all the politicians are having grey shades. I am an avid watcher of daily news and read a lot of newspaper stories daily. I’ve always been aware of the political happenings of our country and what it takes to be there and what are the conflicts that a person goes through in today’s politics. How it kept on changing every decade. It is not surprising to see the battle in politics similar to that of the Mahabharata.”
In Jha’s previous encounter with politics in films like Gangaajal and Apaharan, there was an underlined message towards the end of the film. The question is: Will Rajneeti be any different? Manoj answers, “A film not necessarily has to preach. Rajneeti as a film is a reflection of our society. Each and every person learns something from their life or other’s life. Rajneeti provides a great insight into ones political life. Prakash Jha’s political and social concerns have been very strong without being preachy and you’ll see exactly that in this film. It’s going to hit people very hard.”
With such an ensemble, experienced and a versatile cast in Rajneeti, including two of Jha’s favourite – Ajay Devgan and Nana Patekar, there is also an inclusion of the new kid on the block, the not so experienced Ranbir Kapoor. Manoj gives his viewpoint on the young protégé. “I haven’t seen any of his films. I do not go by the family name that he is a ‘Kapoor’ kid. He looks like a star material and hope that he works really hard to become a complete actor. I’ve interacted with him only once over the phone and he came across as a very genuine and a very well brought up guy. Ranbir has a long way to go. He is going to have a tough time as the penultimate one month’s shoot is still pending. Ranbir’s topsy turvy ride continues with Prakash Jha.”