Anurag Kashyap came across a lot of flak for Bombay Velvet which I didn’t think was as bad as the critics had us believing. What I came to know from a few interviews of him was that he immediately started working on Raman Raghav 2.0, a film based on the life of the nefarious serial Killer of the sixties but the events of the this film were to unfold in current time. This was film to redeem himself as a master storyteller and entertainer after the debacle of Bombay Velvet. It would also bring him together with Nawazuddin Siddiqui, his very own protégé and Vicky Kaushal, that superb actor from Masaan who lost his Filmfare award to the turkey Sooraj Pancholi (so much for Filmfare award authenticity). The story too is not exactly the same as the real events and takes a lot of liberty in terms of it.
Taking a departure from the run of the mills thrillers, Raman Raghav 2.0 unfolds in chapters. The story revolves around a psychotic and nutty killer Raman played by Nawazuddin who kills for no reasons. To put it using his own words, he kills naturally just like one would eat, sleep and drink. He is also insane enough to surrender and accept all his crimes but the police and the officer in charge of his case Raghav (Vicky Kaushal) think that he is insane and a free loader. Raman comes back to kill a lot more people. In the meantime Raghav the cop is having his own issues with his drug problems and his increasing anger and angst at the system and his own life. Raman also develops a strange curiosity and bond with Raghav and he takes voyeuristic delight in his degrading life. The further course of events leads them in the way of each other’s lives and also exposes an uncanny similarity between the two.
I was enthralled by this film. Really hats off! Anurag Kashyap. I found a review for the film in which the critic wrote that this was a difficult film to sit through and that Nawazuddin was getting typecast playing difficult roles. I have never read anything more insane than calling an actor who is taking risky and difficult roles to be typecasting himself in difficult roles. What kind of a comment is that? Yes! There is graphic violence in this film but I can assure you, most of it is off screen. What you think it to be is made up in your mind and the director merely hints towards it. The screenplay for the film is engrossing and exhausting. After the film was over, I sat there for a few minutes to just recuperate from the onslaught that I had just been through.
The story may be fractured but it is done with such finesse and is interwoven with such clarity that chances are you will not miss a thing. By the end, the film is able to express itself clearly and answer most of your questions. The performances are stunning. Each and every actor does a hell of a job. Off course Nawaz and Vicky take up the bulk of the screen time but that’s only a plus. Nawaz is in his usual self. He has this uncanny ability to infuse humor in the most gruesome of situations. That’s what he does here. It also has to be attributed to the superb writing of Vasant Bala and Anurag Kashyap who really create magic with words and situations. There are prolonged scenes of dialogs which never gets boring.
Many are sighting Vicky Kaushal’s character to be a weak link in the film. I beg to differ and I believe his character in many scenes does better than Nawaz. There is no comparison between the two but he has really taken the next step after Masaan. The guy has got real intensity and it shows in the scenes that matters. I just loved the scene he shared with his father. It goes south so quickly and just look at him in this scene.
The film is able to sustain your interest in the tale and more so draw you into the narrative with every passing scene. The story that is unfolding is insane and at many junctures, it goes beyond logic but you have to look at it from the perspective of the two principal characters who don’t look at the world the way we do. You may not find logic behind their action but that’s how they are. They are Raman and Raghav and that’s how the director decided to write them. But I can guarantee you that you will have a grueling time. The film is shot with such panache and scored with such agility that I couldn’t help but notice. Even though a large chunk of it unfolds in slum dwellings and not so beautiful places of Mumbai, the visuals are catchy. The two protagonists are shot wonderfully. Close-ups, medium shots and long shots all used to their advantages. Ram Sampath’s background score is haunting. It conveys the right feelings, never jars and above all is always subjective.
Raman Raghav for me is one of the best Bollywood films of the year so far. I would go the extent of calling it to be probably the best going by the lineup of films to come in the next six month. I loved it and I was aware of what I was walking in to. I urge the viewers to do the same. Don’t walk into it expecting a Sanam re or a Yaariyaan and you know what I mean by that. This film will haunt you long after it is over.
Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)