2014: Raj Ka Rann: An election manifesto for the Thackerays

Film: 2014: Raj Ka Rann
Cast: Prasad Oak, Ramesh Deo, Santosh Juvekar, Sudesh Mashilkar, Deepak Shirke
Pradeep Bhore
Rating: *

The Thackerays have been making the headlines for multiple reasons. It’s hardly surprising that the Bhatts haven’t yet managed to make a Hindi film about the split in the political family that induces extreme emotions across various strata of the society. Marathi filmmakers, however, have cashed in on the drama that was the Thackeray split. Avadhoot Gupte’s Zenda, which was the story of two best friends with the Thackeray split in the background, released among many speculations and controversies two years ago. The film managed to get a sizeable audience.

And then there was talk of an insider film. 2014: Raj Ka Rann, with its fancy wordplay title, was delayed by a week. Shrouded in political controversy, the film had to undergo changes before it could hit the screens. Knowing the meticulousness of the Thackerays in guarding their own egos, it was hardly surprising that the producer had to hold multiple screenings for the two camps before the film was released. Naturally, the writer of the film must have had to keep these egos in mind. Probably that explains why the film swings between the two protagonists, desperately avoiding the grey side to either of the two.

The film begins with the split between Rajsinh (Oak) and Uddeshsinh Nagre (Mashilkar). Yes yes, we are waiting for RGV to cry plagiarism. With their split, young workers struggle to fall on either side.A colony sees langotiya yaars turn jaani dushmans as they fall on either side of the divide. After a massive fight (and quite a few pointless demonstrations of the split working to the advantage of the other political parties), the group realises that being united is in the best interest of ‘Marathi’ (may we remind you, it is a language and not a person?)

While Santosh Juvekar, who also starred in Zenda, appears here as a catalyst who makes the warring gangs realise the need for unity, popular actor Deepak Shirke (Sarkar, D, Gunda) makes an appearance as a senior Sena loyalist who wants to obey Kakasaheb (Deo). Clearly, the producer belongs to the subset of the Sena wanting to unite the estranged cousins Raj and Uddhav. The message is hardly subtle.

Veteran actor Deo gives Kakasaheb (obviously the reel-life version of Balasaheb) am edge with an almost uncanny performance. The tiger roaring every time Kakasheb appears on screen, just adds to the effect but at the end starts inducing a few giggles. And that’s the only amusement you could find in this film.

The film meanders, aimlessly, trying to show both camps in good stead, not sure whether the split is to be portrayed in the background or the foreground. The second half continues to harp on about the need for unity and the advantages of the Thackeray clan sticking together. And while six youths, beer bottles in hand emotionally invoke Shivaji Maharaj, the great King even makes an appearance. After a two minute ‘motivational’ talk, he forces the young boys to take the lead to unite the Marathi manoos. Well, ok then!

As a film touted to be an insider account, one expected to know more about the internal workings of the political parties involved.

But no it only tells you what you already know with a touch of emotion that will enthral Shiv Sena loyalists alone. The film leaves you wondering what the director wanted to achieve with his considerably well-packaged film. The production value is reasonable and the background score is engaging. However, the story is diluted by too many characters, untied loose-ends and inside anecdotes (I wish a Sena insider was with me while I watched the film to enlighten me) and by the end of it, the film ends up being an insipid tale that refuses to wind up.

2014: Raj Ka Rann is a presentation of an election manifesto for MNS and Shiv Sena for the next Maharashtra assembly elections at best. Is it good cinema? We don’t think so.

Originally published on DNAIndia.com on June 18, 2011

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