Raees: Old Wine in Old Bottle
Shahrukh Khan’s “Raees” created a buzz the day the teaser was launched in 2015. Cut to 2017 when the movie released on 25th Jan’17, whether it really lived up to the excpectations???
“Raees” revisits the 80‘s genre of Hindi movies where the whole story revolved around the main protagonist and he is capable of doing anything and everything. Well the storyline of “Raees” follows the similar pattern, set in the 80’s it tells the story of an underdog Raees Khan (Shahrukh Khan) a bootlegger in organized crime scene of illegal liquor trade in Gujarat, since he was a kid under Jairaj (Atul Kulkarni). “Raees” essentially shows the meteoric rise of Raees Khan in the crime scene and ultimately his fall which is inevitable.
“Raees” essentially does not offer anything new; it is blatantly inspired by the Amitabh Bachchan genre of movies like Deewar, Agneepath with a dash of Scarface. Written by a group of writers which includes the director Rahul Dholakia himself along with Ashish Vashi, Harit Mehta & Niraj Shukla, ”Raees” falls prey to the movies that it is inspired from and does not rise above it. The plot and screenplay is extremely predictable and you can actually guess what will come next. The inconsistencies in the screenplay is on your face, for instance the visual impairment of Raees Khan, it is used on the convenience of the writers where ever it is needed, like he goes and kills the entire army of Jairaj without his glasses, or the moharram sequence when he is chasing his assassin without his glasses, whereas in the beginning in one of the fight sequence Raees cannot see without his glasses. Secondly whenever he is shown on a killing rampage he does it alone without any help, well a super hero I may say so. “Raees” starts off on a high note and somehow keeps the tempo till intermission, but in the second half the movie nose dives and it goes nowhere. The writers are not clear what to show of Raees, a ruthless and scheming criminal or a messiah of the poor, and that is where the movie looses the plot. The love story is extremely weak and you feel that the love angle is introduced only for song sequences. Even the camaraderie of Raees with his friends like Sadiq is not explored well. The only character which looks strong in front of Raees is of the police inspector Jhatak Majmudar (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), other characters look like sitting ducks, so in short the story lacks strong characters which would have eventually elevated the script. The lack of sensitivity in the writing is so obvious that you just do not sympathies with Raees Khan as a character. Overall a below average attempt as far as the script goes.
Dialogues is the high point of the movie, it is impactful yet realistic. Somewhere the weak writing is redeemed a bit with the dialogues, but if only dialogues can create an impact on a weak script. So the impactful dialogues fail to salvage the weak script.
Performance wise Shahrukh Khan as Raees Khan tries his best in enacting the character with complete earnestness, but somewhere the larger than life persona of Shahrukh Khan steals the authenticity of the character and you see SRK and NOT Raees Khan in the movie. Shahrukh tries to look like the character but his portrayal is SRK written throughout, which is something which in today’s scenario is not acceptable. The last earnest attempt of Shahrukh wherein he played the character and was successful was “Chak De India”. Shahrukh is an extremely good actor but somehow the movies that he is choosing off late is only portraying SRK the STAR and not SRK the ACTOR. Nawazuddin Siddiqui yet again proves his mettle with his portrayal of the policeman Jhatak Majmudar, he is spontaneous, witty and brilliant. Rather whenever Nawazuddin comes on screen you can feel the impact. He even overshadows Shahrukh in a few scenes. The debutant from Pakistan Mahira Khan as Aasiya does justice to whatever is given to her, but she fails to rise above the weak writing and hence fails to create any impact. Brilliant actors like Atul Kulkarni, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Raj Arun, Sheeba Chadha and Lovleen Mishra are wasted in weakly written character roles. But one actor who creates impact even in a small role is Narendra Jha as Musa Bhai, after Nawazuddin it is Narendra Jha whose character stays with you even after the movie gets over, definitely an actor to watch out for.
K U Mohanan’s camera work strikes the right balance between the ruggedness of Gujarat and the colours of Gujarat. Production design by Anita Rajagopalan and Donal Reagen successfully creates the 80’s look to perfection. Costume Design by Sheetal Sharma blends with the characters well and does not look too jarring or out of place.
Music wise “Raees” scores high with the romantic “Zaalima” by Aheer and “Udi Udi Jaaye” by Ram Sampath which has a garbha feel to the song. The re-created “Laila mein Laila” is foot tapping and has enough beats to make you dance. Rest of the tracks fails to impress.
Rahul Dholakia who impressed us with his sensitive “Parzania” and “Lamha”, takes a detour with “Raees” and tries to attempt a mainstream commercial movie, but fails to balance between the arty and the commercial sensibilities. Rahul looks confused as to where to draw the line in being arty and being commercial, and in the bargain the movie gets affected. Surprisingly the sensitivity which Rahul showed us in previous two movies is completely missing in “Raees”, and hence it fails miserably in the emotional quotient. Rahul please give us another “Parzania”, we still have faith in you as a director.
“Raees” fails to live up to sky high expectations and delivers an ordinary fare… I will go with Two & a Half Stars..
Movie Rating: (2.5 / 5)