By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | January 25, 2017

Rating: 4 / 5

4stars


The essence: What rankles in the end is this: Why did Raees not use his baniye ki dimaag and miyanbhai ki daring to rewrite his slate?


The ‘system’ is never in sync with the heart, or mind. Raees, the bootlegger, has his heart in place. Add to it his clear thinking mind. ACP Majumdar too has his heart in the right place, but he is confused by the ‘system’. All this while he thought he had the ‘system’ in check. But when the ideologies of Raees and Majumdar juxtapose towards the end, it brings the viewer to his knees.

Raees, not able to bear the torment of guilt, which he was foxed into (when he wants to ensure the villagers are paid back their advance of his project that suddenly finds itself in the ‘green zone’) had the escape route open. He chose to embrace the consequences of his actions, even though he was not guilty of it. The politicians (read system) take their revenge.

What his Ammi jaan told him as a kid remained with him till the end: “Koi dhanda chota ya bada nahi hota, aur dhande se bada koi dharm nahi hota.” Of course, she had added, his business should not be a cause of suffering to anyone.

Even though he deals in videshi alcohol, he ensures that he reaches out to the people in Fatehpur, Gujarat, Hindus and Muslims without bias. For them, Raees is their God. With his ‘baniye ka dimaag and miyanbhai ki daring’, Raees is always one step ahead of his rivals, and when he is not, he is willing to come in the line of fire.

Rahul Dholakia uses the star voice of Nawazuddin Siddiqui (who plays ACP Majumdar) to set things in motion with his narration. It’s gripping. When Nawazuddin comes on screen, he lights it on fire with his presence. When he shares screen space with SRK (Raees) he tilts the balance in his favour, simply by being the actor that he is! Remember what he did in Kick?

But what one cannot understand is why his character is so obsessed with Raees. Even though he has been transferred multiple times, his focus remains Raees as though the town he is placed in does not require his attention.

Moreover, Dholakia, I would like to believe, is forced to use frequent interruptions by way of songs. And when these songs derail the smooth narrative, you know it is the masses the makers are after and a formula which is being followed.

Shah Rukh Khan gets a character he is familiar with. Atul Kulkarni, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub and Narendra Jha all bring in that finesse to their characters but for me it is Nawazuddin Siddiqui who is the star of the film. And in a little corner of the screen stands Jaideep Ahlawat, who lends immense weight to the proceedings. On the other hand we have the love angle with Mahira Khan which could have done with mature handling.

Raees is set in a time almost 25 years ago and Dholakia whose Parzania gave us a glimpse of a suffering Gujarat, knows the city and his subject well enough to bring in that modicum of sustainability.

What rankles in the end is this: Why did Raees not use his baniye ki dimaag and miyanbhai ki daring to rewrite his slate? Maybe, Dholakia wanted our emotions invested elsewhere!

Take away a couple of songs and Raees becomes even more exciting. Either way, for SRK fans, and for those who want to escape in the world of cinema and were disappointed with Dilwale, this is a treat!


CREDITS
Producers: Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani, Gauri Khan
Director: Rahul Dholakia
Star Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Mahira Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Atul Kulkarni

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