The greatest strength of thriller lies in its ability to keep the audience glued to the screen. Having a decent story, plot twists and turns, smooth transformation, sharp editing and effective drama are traits which make that possible. What doesn’t make it possible are unnecessary songs, an irritatingly overacting heroine and an unnecessarily long screenplay. Raja Natwarlal tries to be an effective thriller and one has to agree that it does succeed in certain junctures but it constantly keeps faltering at crucial junctures and runs out of steam on more than one occasion. A song every 15 minute also doesn’t help the matter.
Raja (Emraan Hashmi) is a small time con-man who dreams of making big and disappearing with it all with the love of his life Ziya(Humaima Malik). He and his accomplice in crime Raghav (Deepak Tijori) land up with a healthy score but soon realize that the money belonged to Vardha Yadav (Kay Kay Menon), a ruthless businessman operating from Cape Town. Before they can say cheese, Raghav is shot and Raja is left to rue his loss. He wants to get back at Vardha and in desperation asks for assistance from Yogi (Paresh Rawal) who is a con-man of a league of his own. He agrees to help Raja and the duo assemble a team to rob Vardha and extract revenge for Raja’s loss. What happens next forms the crux of the narrative of Raja Natwarlal.
One has to give it to the director for choosing a story which had potential. The buildup, the loss and the meeting of Raja and Yogi are done well. The next stage is the game of con to lure in the big fish and rob him of everything which is also done well enough. But in midst of this there are prolonged periods of sheer boredom which are brought forth by the unnecessary romantic angle which serves absolutely no purpose. The director tries to rope in the character of the heroine in the scheme of things with some gimmicky reason and logic but that too doesn’t work because of Malik’s bad acting. There is no polite way of saying this but that it would have sufficed if Raja had left his love at the bar as Yogi advised him.
Paresh Rawal glitters like a diamond in the rough all the way through. His presence catapults the situations to newer heights and some lines and settings become real plainly because he makes them that way with his astounding performance. Hashmi, the serial kisser is likeable and he is at his act again in full flow. His character suits him and he does well to realize that and act accordingly. Malik needs to improve. Kay Kay Menon is perfect. Here is one actor who is above all rating and critic. Give him any character and chances and he will undo himself and that’s exactly the case here too.
Raja Natwarlal could have been a much better film if the director decided to make it without the songs and the unnecessary romantic angle. He could have also cut down on the runtime which tends to get on your nerves. On the positive side, the film has a somewhat satisfying climax which will surprise you if you are really not that much into crime capers. There are also a few Hollywood elements used towards the end to spice up the matter and it works well.
Overall Raja Natwarlal is a massy entertainer which tries to be smart and succeeds in being smart at many junctures. The film might appeal to those who want to enjoy a thriller without putting in much of a brain. The songs and kissing scene might be a draw for the front bencher but that’s about it. Watch it if you don’t have anything else to do.