Raees. – PSST!! Too Big?? Don’t worry. Jump on directly to the category you wish to read.

Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Raees’ is easily the most anticipated movie in recent memory, but unfortunately, it isn’t worth all the hype.

⏩ Genre :- Biography/Drama

⏩ Run-time :- 2 hrs 22 mins.

⏩ Cast :- Shah Rukh Khan (SRK), Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Mahira Khan, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Atul Kulkarni, Narendra Jha, Sheeba Chaddha.

⏩ Director :- Rahul Dholakia

Plot – The movie explores the rise and fall of Raees who desires to be a big shot and builds up an empire in the liquor business. His philosophy in business, coupled with his gutsy attitude makes him the most feared man in the state of Gujarat. Soon, situations take a drastic turn with the entry of Majmudar (Siddiqui), who is on an unrestrained bout to end Raees’s rule. The film revolves around the epic clash between the two.

Direction and Screenplay :-

Rahul surely knows the essence of Gujarat. Right from the word go, you know a masterpiece in direction is unfolding on the screen. He has terrifically directed Raees keeping in mind each and every relevant detailing.

As far as the screenplay is concerned, Director Rahul Dholakia and his co-writers
Harit Mehta, Ashish Vashi and Niraj Shukla, have scripted down a saga of the hunter and the hunted much like the 70s gangster films with furious background music, dialogue-baazi, frantic action and a killer item number. But they have carved out two nemeses in the characters of Raees and SP Majmudar who are imperfectly perfect for each other and keep us engaged throughout. What the story lacks is conviction, and the lack of risk or innovation turns Raees into the story of a whimpering, secular, sanskari gangster. He is nothing like the gangster whom we were terrified of in Don. It’s a half-hearted attempt at villainy that keeps the persona intact but doesn’t serve the film. Raees is a brutal murderer but we invest in his journey from a young boy to a mule for the liquor mafia to a gangster who is a bootlegger — because Raees is played by Shah Rukh Khan. (Maybe that is why Raees is made the soft noble badass gangster, just to uphold the spirit of SRK, the superstar. You tell me!)

Various glitches make us scratch our head. Like at one point, Raees’s pregnant wife stays slim for several scenes and then suddenly a baby appears. (Huhn?)

Despite many plot twists and dozens of characters, the screenplay stays inert and predictable. There just isn’t enough excitement or tension as we meet the predictable end.

Editing and Cinematography :-

Editing takes a step down in Raees. Halfway through the film, and it came as a surprise that people started bemoaning, “Kaash Kaabil Dekhli Hoti!” (Wut!? I mean, SRK hain bhai.) But even SRK couldn’t hold the audience’s attention from the sloppy editing. Sorry Deepa Bhatia, you could have done better.

Cinematographer K.U. Mohanan is the best thing that has happened to Raees as far as the technicalities are concerned. He makes the screen look so raw and so enthralling, it quickly sets the mood. It is subtly stylized but very much within the realm of realism.
The color palette involves few browns and lots of green, blues, greys and blacks, much like the 70s Gujarat.

Music :- The songs have Gujarat written all over it with songs like ‘Udi Udi Jaye’ and ‘Ghammar.’ ‘Zaalima’ is nothing but a reflection of SRK’s ‘Gerua’ and also reminds you of ‘Pee Lun’ from OUATIM. ‘Enu Naam Che Raees’ which happens to be the title track is the worst of the lot. Seems like a parody of ‘O saya’ from Slumdog Millionaire.
‘Saanson K’ is a melancholic song, decent but misplaced.
Besides Ram Sampath’s Udi, Udi Jaye (Same like ‘Shubaarambh’) and ‘Ghammar,’ the film’s music lacks character.

The Highs –

▶ In the midst of big banner commercial movies like HNY, Dilwale, Chennai Express, people seemed to have forgotten SRK’s film presence. And Raees restores our faith and we are clearly able to see the actor behind the Superstar. It enters the league of his critically acclaimed films like Swades, Paheli and Chak De! India.

▶ It’s a well-made film that benefits from
Dholakia’s keen eye for period and atmospheric detail. Although crammed with too much plot, and overlong on account of a loose screenplay that is inspired largely by Godfather, OUATIM’s Sultan Mirza, the film nevertheless offers enough to enjoy.

▶ Raees delivers a sleek and satisfactory throwback to the gangster films from the 70s, many starring Amitabh Bachchan and scripted by Salim-Javed.

▶ The film’s first half is engaging and magnetic as we watch our anti-hero expand his enterprise on the strength of his quick thinking and sheer ruthlessness. (Baniye ka dimaag and Miyabhai ki daring, bro)

▶ 2016 witnessed two back-to-back releases ‘Fan’ and ‘Dear Zindagi’ and the pattern showed an actor making distinct moves to select projects that reflect his middle age, take him out of his comfort zone and give him the opportunity to redefine himself. Wow. ❤

▶ This movie is basically about survival in a dog-eat-dog world. Raees also touches upon the all important issue of communal harmony.

▶ Nawazuddin. There isn’t another actor in Hindi cinema right now with such a direct connection to the audience. He improves a movie just by being in it. Also, the chemistry between both the leading men is amazing.

The Lows –

▶ Post interval Raees becomes a messiah for his people, the mobster with a heart of gold and a secular humanist. It feels as if the writers decided to trade Raees’ grey shades and blunt his edges to make him more likable. The plot too slips into repetition and predictability, and characters like the corrupt and venal pols come off as bad caricatures.

▶ The sheer pleasure of watching Raees and SP Majmudar and Raees banter like hero and villain made my hopes rise but it was soon toned down after some shoddy action sequences which are ludicrous and no fun just like those in Rohit Shetty’s movies.

▶ Some scenes feel as if the director has given in to the actor’s “Star Privileges,”
making him a Robin Hood figure, a parallel government to the community. Just steps away from being Superman, because he uses the government as much as he is used. Law to him is nothing but a barrier to be broken.

▶ “Baniye ka dimaag aur Miyanbhai ki daring” and “Koi dhandha chota… ,” – Dholakia makes people repeat this line so often, I lost count after the fourth time. (I mean, no doubt the dialogues are good. But kitni baar bhai?)

▶ SRK’s Raees takes you for a not so thrilling ride, trying to soak the hooligan’s character that is so typical of Bollywood’s masala films when the maker’s know that the story is a ‘been there, seen that’ and will make you yawn. (I know you yawned at this too. XD)

▶ SRK and Mahira’s chemistry is dull and lacks the magic that is usual in an SRK movie.

Performances :-

▶ Shah Rukh essays the eponymous character of Raees with sincerity and poise. It is a role constructed to grab back his pole position, and to that end, SRK strains himself at fulfilling every single point.
He emerges as sympathetic and admirable, doing a good job of portraying a brutal character albeit with soft tones in equal measure.
> The gold rimmed glasses, kohl in his eyes, stiff and royal walk and delivery mannerisms he steal proves why he still is the King Khan of Bollywood. After Chak De India and My Name is Khan, this is the best movie by Shah Rukh.
> Speaking of the action scenes, SRK mounts walls and leaps over building’s pipelines with the agility of Contra. But this is barely enough to make up for his loud and rather irrelevant performance in the action category. There is this scene, where he single handedly pinwheels a chariot and it appears as if he is playing “fugdi” with it.
In one scene where he breakdown in his love’s lap, we wonder if he has got a seizure or something. Why TOO much drama, SRK?

Source: Youtube/ Red Chillies Entertainment.

▶ It is Nawazuddin’s SP Majmudar that brings life into the dull proceedings. With his poker faced delivery, timing and mannerisms, he lifts up every frame he is in, with sheer brilliance and conviction.
Although his role is small, he makes it worth all the while with all the wisecracks being in his share. The way he carries portrays every character given to him makes me want to edit the dialogue of this movie to – “Siddique k liye koi role chhota nahi hai aur acting se bada koi dharam nahi hai.”

▶ Mahira Khan, as SRK’s romantic interest, is feeble and flat and also the character is not as fresh as it could have been. The coyness and clichéd dialogues are too lame to be even accepted now.

▶ The very talented Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub as Sadiq, Raees’ friend and partner in crime, is effortless and affable. Unfortunately, his character development is poor and he just remains as Raees’ sidekick.

▶ Narendra Jha as Musa Bhai and Sheeba Chaddha as Raees’ mother give as usual, stellar performances but are restrained by a limited role.

▶Atul Kulkarni as Raees’ mentor just a fine job. Also, he seems to have worked a lot on his gujarati accent.

▶ It is heartening to see Sunny Leone (as Laila) finally making it to the Bollywood’s A-list with moves and expressions to kill.

▶ Uday Tikekar as the cynical and domineering politician, does full justice to his role.

Watch o Not ? For the SRK fans – Here’s a reference from Dangal: ‘Shah Rukh ko na nahi bolte. Paap lagta hai.’ *facepalms* And for the rest, If you want to relive the 70s magic with detailed frames, give it a watch.

Verdict : If you want to witness the ingenuity of a man who could think on his feet and cart his maal under the eye of the cop, then Raees is just the film for you. The best way to enjoy Raees is to control the expectations first. This is a bumpy ride. At places, you will applaud and whistle. But you might also find yourself utterly exhausted.

Ratings3.4/5 (0.4 more for SRK and Nawazuddin’s chemistry. :D)