Raajneeti (transl. Politics), is a 2010 Indian Hindi-language political thriller film co-written, directed and produced by Prakash Jha, with a screenplay by Anjum Rajabali and Prakash Jha. The film has an ensemble cast including Ranbir Kapoor, Ajay Devgn, Nana Patekar, Katrina Kaif, Arjun Rampal, Manoj Bajpayee and Naseeruddin Shah. It was originally produced by Prakash Jha Productions and distributed by UTV Motion Pictures and Walkwater Media. It was shot in Bhopal. The title translates literally as “Politics” and contextually as “Affairs of State.” The story draws parallels to the epic Mahabharata where shades of Arjuna (Kapoor), Karna (Devgn), Krishna (Patekar), Bhima (Rampal), Duryodhana (Bajpai), and Draupadi (Kaif) can be seen in the characters portrayed.
Raajneeti was released in theatres worldwide on 4 June 2010, after some controversies regarding similarities between real-life people and the characters in the film, as well as issues about the national anthem. A sequel of Rajneeti has been confirmed by Prakash Jha.
The film begins with the life of Bharti Rai, the daughter of chief minister Ramnath Rai. Influenced by leftist ideology, she rebels against her father and joins the rival party of leftist leader Bhaskar Sanyal. Bharti develops an illicit relationship with Bhaskar on a rainy night, who, guilt-ridden over taking advantage of a young woman, leaves for parts unknown, having unwittingly gotten Bharti pregnant. Upon the child’s birth, he is abandoned in a boat by Brij Gopal, Bharti’s ‘rakhi’ brother and a loyal well-wisher of the Rai and Pratap family. This leaves her devastated. Bharti is later married to Chandra Pratap, the younger brother of Bhanu Pratap. Bhanu leads the Rashtrawadi political party.
The story takes a turn, when the state government collapses and Bhanu suffers a stroke. In the hospital, he hands over power to his brother Chandra. Chandra’s son, Prithviraj Pratap tries to take advantage of his father’s power and starts to impose his own decisions on the party, which results in a clash with his cousin, Veerendra Pratap who is already miffed by his father’s decision of not handing over the power to him. Chandra also takes his son’s side in a matter where Prithvi’s suggestion is more promising, making Veerendra feel he’s being sidelined. Prithvi rejects the nomination of a local leader Sooraj Kumar, who is chosen by the common people, but Sooraj gets Veerendra’s support. Unknown to all, Sooraj is Bharti’s abandoned son, who was found and brought up by Pratap family’s driver, Ram Charittra as his own son.
The younger son of Chandra, Samar Pratap, returns from America and meets his childhood friend Indu. Indu is in love with Samar and thinks he loves her too. When Chandra and Prithvi try to kick Veerendra out of his father’s party, due to his growing insolence, he asks Sooraj for help. Sooraj ends up assassinating Chandra in his car, while he is returning from the airport after seeing off Samar who was returning to America. In an ensuing drama, Prithvi is arrested by police under the influence of Veerendra and put on trial for raping a party worker. Samar comes to the rescue and tricks Veerendra into dropping all charges upon his brother, promising that his brother will resign and that he will move with his family to the U.S. However, Samar does not keep his promise and he, with Prithvi, begins rallying public support. After that, Bhanu officially expels Prithvi, the latter splits from the Rashtrawadi party and contests elections under “Jana Shakti party”, a new party with Gopal as his mentor and Samar as the executive. Meanwhile, Samar’s American girlfriend Sarah arrives in India to meet him. To raise funds for the new party, Samar shrewdly ensures Prithvi’s marriage to Indu. Though Indu had always loved Samar, Samar only thought of Indu as a friend and loved Sarah.
The circumstances gets murkier with both sides trying every trick to ensure their victory in upcoming elections. Allegations and counter-allegations are made. Subsequently, Samar uncovers that the real murderers of his father are Sooraj and Veerendra, and decides to take revenge. On the other hand, Prithvi executes the former police officer, who had arrested him, and the woman worker at a farmhouse. Meanwhile, Indu slowly falls in love with Prithvi who has been a nice and respectful towards her, and Prithvi too admits his feelings. Sarah informs Samar that her reason for coming was to let him know of her pregnancy and they decide to return to America. Veerendra and Sooraj make a plan to assassinate Samar, on finding out that Samar was behind all the tricks. A bomb is planted in Samar’s car. Prithvi goes to save Samar and Sarah, who were to be dropped off to the airport in that car. He manages to save Samar but is killed in the process with Sarah. Devastated by the loss of his brother and girlfriend, Samar decides to retaliate. He suggests Indu to take the reins of the party and arranges the election campaign single-handedly.
Meanwhile, Sooraj is revealed to be the first child of Bharti, who implores him to join his younger brother Samar. Sooraj refuses to part ways with Veerendra who supported him in his time of need and has been a true friend (even if for personal motives) despite him being in lower caste family and asks his mother to leave. Exit polls predict a victory for Indu’s party. On the counting day, Samar lures Veerendra and Sooraj to an unused factory by spreading a rumour about electronic voting machines being hacked. They fall in the trap, and Veerendra gets shot by Samar and his men. Sooraj has an open opportunity to shoot Samar, but can’t bring himself to do it since he knows Samar is his brother. Sooraj requests Samar to leave him and Veerendra till they reach the hospital, but Veerendra dies on the way. Gopal prompts Samar to shoot Sooraj who questions the morality of the act, but Gopal convinces him to take revenge for the destruction of his family. Samar, not aware of his relationship to Sooraj, shoots him.
The election results are declared, and Indu emerges with majority and becomes the CM. Samar is seen asking for forgiveness and attempting reconciliation with Indu. Indu accepts Samar’s apology and the two reconcile. Explaining his decision to return to America, he reflects that he always wanted to stay away from politics as politics is a game that brings out the “inner devil”. Indu is revealed to be pregnant with Prithvi’s child, while Samar leaves India to look after Sarah’s mother and promises Indu that he will return to meet his nephew.
Raajneeti cast at press conference.
Ranbir Kapoor as Samar Pratap [Arjuna]: the younger son of Chandra Pratap and the Executive of the Jana Shakti Party.
Ajay Devgn as Sooraj Pratap Kumar [Karna]: a Local Leader and son of Bharti Pratap.
Nana Patekar as Brij Gopal [Krishna/Bhishma] : the god-son of Ramnath Rai, brother of Bharti Pratap and the mentor of Prithviraj Pratap when he founded the Jana Shakti Party.
Katrina Kaif as Indu Pratap (Nee Sakseria) [Draupadi/Uttara]: the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh who initially loved Samar but was married to Prithviraj Pratap.
Arjun Rampal as Prithviraj Pratap [Bhima, Yudhishthira and Abhimanyu]: the founder of Jana Shakti Party, the elder son of Chandra Pratap and the brother of Samar Pratap.
Manoj Bajpayee as Veerendra Pratap [Duryodhana]: the Chief Minister Candidate of Rashtrawadi Party.
Sarah Thompson Kane as Sarah Jean Collins [Ulupi/Subhadra]: the girlfriend of Samar Pratap when he was in the US.
Naseeruddin Shah as Bhaskar Sanyal [Lord Surya]: a leftist leader who opposes Ramnath Rai’s Government.
Nikhila Trikha as Bharti Pratap [Kunti]: the daughter of Ramnath Rai, sister of Brij Gopal and wife of Chandra Pratap who first spent time with Bhaskar Sanyal.
Chetan Pandit as Chandra Pratap [Pandu]: the younger brother of Bhanu Pratap, Father of Prithviraj Pratap and Samar Pratap. He leads the party for a while as his brother suffers a heart attack.
Jahangir Khan as Bhanu Pratap [Dhritrashtra]: the president of the Rashtrawadi Party and he is the brother of Chandra Pratap.
Vinay Apte as Babulal [Shakuni]
Darshan Jariwala as Ramnath Rai [Kuntibhoj]: the Former Chief Minister of MP, Father of Bharti Pratap and Brij Gopal.
Shruti Seth as Party Worker
Kiran Karmarkar as SP Sharma
Daya Shankar Pandey as Ram Charittra [Adhiratha]
Barkha Sengupta as item number “Ishq Barse”