When the first teaser of Raees was released, I was totally hooked by its power and realistic portrayal of SRK, which in most other cases, is larger than life. I somehow felt that this could well be another of his great films (read Chak De India, Swades, Anjaam, and Darr). The kind that he keeps churning out from time to time but more and more rarely these days. But when Raees’ trailer was released more recently, my expectations were put to rest completely. It was enough to suggest what this film was going to represent. Unfortunately, the trailer is an exact representation of what this film is and that is a tragedy of epic preparations in itself.
The film chronicles the journey of Raees (SRK) from his childhood right up till he reaches the pinnacle of his power; But then makes a huge mistake and is finally dethroned from his position of power by his arch enemy and nemesis inspector Majmudar (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). There are rumors that this film is based on real events but going by the manner in which it unfolds, that seems improbable. Even if there is any link, that may be very remote as this film takes a full blown “Bollywood Masala” path in negating a story that needed a serious and more grounded approach. The result is that we get a Sunny Leone item number before a coup when it needed a la “Bhiku Mahatre murder” type portrayal.
Let us start off with the positives. The film recreates the bygone era effectively. The set design, the interiors, the costumes and the get-up of the actors is in keeping with the era. Vintage cars, bikes, rustic locales, highly decorated trucks that remind us of a golden and cherish-able bygone era really jumps out of the screen and grabs our attention. The story keeps rolling. It is almost 2 and a half hours long and sans the songs that are a stickler and torture, the proceedings remain breezy. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is great in his role as Majmudar. It’s not because his character is well written but because he enacts the most inane of lines/scenes with such finesse and authority that you enjoy his act. Majmudar would have been a lesser character without him.
The film has apt editing even though I would have really liked it to be without songs and dance routines. The cinematography is good but the same cannot be said about the action choreography. The rapid cuts used to put a veil on SRK’s inabilities to withstand and carry on action sequences is visible more than once. The rapid cuts also spoil the fun of the action sequences when we have seen so much better stuff from our western counterparts. I will come back to the action later when we discuss the flaws of the film.
- My biggest qualm with Raees is an utter lack of urgency in the story and screenplay. From the moment the film begins, it just never feels real. There is unwanted buffoonery, songs and dances, a romance that has zero chemistry and above all, a sense of laid-back ease that conveys absolutely no urgency.
- The character of Raees is never challenged properly. The tag line of “Baniye Ka Dimag” “Miyanbhai Ki Daring” is totally misleading as there is neither of the two on display. Another thing that happens way too often is a spark of an idea on seeing a simple thing or event. The first few times its ok but after that, it gets repetitive and starts getting in the way of the believability of the film.
- Coming to the action sequences, the green screen on many occasions is visible. The editing is rapid and choppy to give SRK a breathing window. The chase sequence where he follows an assassin and becomes a parkoar champion is just laugh out loud funny and unbelievable.
- Mahirah Khan can’t act. I fail to understand what got into the team of makers to take her for the role when there are so many better prospects available here in India. She has no feel for the character and literally sleeps walk through the role. Her deficiencies are exposed further when she shares screen space with SRK.
- If these were not enough, the film’s ending will be a kick in the nuts for you. I cannot discuss it here without spoiling it for you but, I am forced too. In the final act of the film, Majmudar kills Raees in a fake encounter after picking him up in front of the whole media who see him surrender peacefully. There is absolutely no logic or reason behind this act.
- SRK wins an election without any prior political motivations and files nomination when in jail. Now we all know that politics is filled with criminals but it’s still not that simple. Believability again goes for a toss.
- The first half of the film turns boring at many junctures. Especially the romance bits and the song and dance routines. Raees’ rise to power also feels implausible if not impossible. For the first time in many years, SRK looks haggard and not in his elements. He tries to exude charm but that eludes him to a great extent. He looks miserable in the romantic sequences with Mahirah doing equally worse. The outbursts of anger and frustration also seem out of place and forced. In short, this is SRK’s weakest performance in a while.
In its favor, the makers could say that they are trying to create a film reminiscent of the seventies and eighties crime dramas starring Amitabh Bachchan but that would not save them from the fact that the film turns out boring in many parts and it feels too stretched too. There is even a scene from an Amitabh Bachchan starer to pay homage to that very fact. Take for instance the Sunny Leone Item song. There is no way on earth that you could compare it with a Helen or Zeenat Aman number. The choreography is bad and laced with a lot of close-ups trying to hide Leone’s limited moves and the costumes are painfully ordinary. The drama too is unable to grasp your attention and every now and then falters to even make sense.
The only way this film could have made an impact was if it was made documentary style with no songs, no under cooked romance and with a sense of urgency that would Infact elevate this film from its mediocrity. That’s exactly what I was expecting from Rahul Dholakia who made the resplendent Parzania but unfortunately, that’s not the case here. Raees is this year’s first big disappointment for me.
Rating: 2.5/5 (2.5 out of 5 Stars)