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Review: Raees

Banner: Red Chillies Entertainment, Excel Entertainment

Producer: Ritesh Sidhwani,  Gauri Khan, Farhan Akhtar

Director: Rahul Dholakia

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Mahira Khan, Atul Kulkarni, Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub, Sheebha Chaddha

Writer: Rahul Dholakia, Harit Mehta, Ashish Vashi, Niraj Shukla

Music: Ram Sampath

There are movies, and then there’s Raees. Bollywood is rife with gangster movies, so, is Raees any different from the gangster movies we’ve seen before? Can Rahul Dholakia, whose only claim to fame is Parzania, be able to make this film a commercial success while keeping its realism intact?

These are the questions you toy with as you prepare to watch Raees. But, remember, this gangster film with a director who has just one success to his name has one crucial element that will make it a sure thing –Shah Rukh Khan as Raees.

Shah Rukh Khan lives and breathes the character Raees and plays it with sheer conviction, making this film a complete experience to watch, from the first frame to the last. In fact, the scene where Shah Rukh Khan’s character is introduced is one of the best entry scenes for any leading man in the recent past.

There is no doubt that Raees exceeds expectations. The film has been written with a touch of the ’70s and ’80s (retro background score), and is a paisa vasool,ceetimaar experience!

The basic concept – a garib insaan takes to crime and becomes a local mafia boss – is not novel but it is the way the movie has been treated that makes Raees different from films with the same plotline. Since the film is about a gangster, it is also about his battle with a cop. If Shah Rukh Khan’s entry scene gives you goosebumps, the cop’s entry scene (Nawazuddin Siddique) is hilarious. Both the introduction scenes set the tone of the film very aptly.

The film is set in the 1980s and is about Raees (Shah Rukh Khan),who wants to achieve everything in life. He is like Robin Hood, so apart from achieving his goal of becoming a big guy, he also likes to help the poor and needy. He has a dream to do something for his mohalla. He always tries to beat the system and succeeds on his terms.

He starts working for the local goonda but soon starts his own business. Thanks to his ingenuity and charm, he becomes the local don. Enter an honest cop, Jaideep (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), who wants to put Raees behind bars. What follows forms the crux of the film.

Time and again, we’ve seen that when there are multiple writers helmed by script consultants, there’s also a greater probability of something going wrong with the final product. In other words, too many cooks spoil the broth. But in case of Raees, it seems the writers and consultants worked in sync. There are four writers – Harit Mehta, Ashish Vashi, Niraj Shukla and director Rahul Dholakia himself – and they seem to have worked as a team.

There may be flaws in some places but the end result is awesome. The story is not new but the screenplay is and the icing on the cake is the dialogue. And the writing is complimented by the direction of Rahul Dholakia. And these two elements are complimented by superb editing and background music (the retro feel of the film keeps you glued and entertained throughout). Moreover, Dholakia’s treatment of the film makes it look believable.

Raees is one of the best examples of a commercial film in a realistic zone. Also, kudos to the production design team, which managed to recreate the bygone era flawlessly.

There are many scenes that stay with you after the show is over. To start with, the entry scene of both Shah Rukh Khan and Nawazuddin Siddique; all the action scenes; the romance between Shah Rukh Khan and Mahira Khan; the camaraderie between the two friends, Shah Rukh Khan and Mohd Zeeshan Ayub; the dialogue baazi between Shah Rukh Khan and Siddique and, last but not least, the climax scene. As mentioned earlier, there are a few hiccups in the writing. The pace drops post-interval but picks up again during the pre-climax.

KU Mohanan’s cinematography is top-notch. Editing by Deepa Bhatia is firm. Dialogue is the main USP of the film. Music by Ram Sampath is another asset. Zaalima and Udi Udi are already hit songs and the other songs too are in sync with the mood of the film. Background score by Sampath, again is impactful.

Performance-wise, Raees belongs to the one who’s playing the title character, Shah Rukh Khan. Right from his entry scene till the end of the movie, Khan owns the film. There is no other actor who could have pulled off this role with such conviction, charisma and credibility. Definitely another award-winning performance from the superstar.

Nawazuddin Siddique, as always, is brilliant. His expressions and dialogue delivery make his character menacing. Mahira Khan looks beautiful and plays her part with confidence. Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub is restrained and makes an impact. Atul Kulkarni is superb. Sheeba Chaddha leaves a mark even though she has only two to three scenes. Narendra Jha is good. The other actors, like Jaideep Ahlawat, Utkarsh Mazumdar, Pramod Pathak and Udady Tikekar,play their parts with sincerity. 

Verdict: Super Hit.

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