After a long time Shah Rukh Khan plays a massy role in his first release of 2017, Raees. The movie is directed by Rahul Dholakia, known for winning a National award for Parzania. Pakistani actress Mahira Khan is the heroine, while Nawazuddin Siddiqui is the parallel lead. Without wasting much time, take a look at our review of Raees...
What's it about
Raees Alam (Shah Rukh Khan) is an Arun Gawli-like criminal and bootlegger based in Fatehpur, Gujarat. From childhood itself, he had a knack for illegal liquor business, and when he grows up, his love for Dhanda gets him into crossroads, first with his mentor (Atul Kulkarni), and later with ACP Majmudar (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). With his best friend and confidante (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) and his lover and later wife (Mahira Khan) by his side, Raees sets along to build his empire in Fatehpur. But as the history of civilisations goes, empires get built and fall, sometimes within a day.
Raees is a movie that promises to take you back to the gangster drama of the '70s, where a powerful Robin Hood, the Messiah of the poor, is the hero despite gaining power and money through illegal means. And it fulfills that promise to some extent. The first half is a fairly enjoyable jolly good ride, thanks to establishing Shah Rukh Khan in his action avatar and his face off scenes with Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Fans of Shah Rukh Khan will be glad to see the man return to his Baazigar mode that he left somewhere back in his career, as he began to accept Rahul/Raj images. His action scene in the first half where he chases his would be assassin is deftly done. Speaking of Nawazuddin Siddiqui, he is the actual hero of the movie. Playing to the gallery in nearly every scene, Nawazuddin steals the thunder from his far more popular co-star with quite ease. The role of the upright ACP with a knack of witty one-liners is a cakewalk for him, but it is he who makes this dark gangster drama entertaining in bits. Just check out his MJ-aping intro, which is the best scene of the movie. The background score and cinematography are first-rate. ALSO READ - Raees quick movie review: Shah Rukh Khan's Miyan bhai avatar will take you back to the '70s style gangster drama
Predictability is a foe that has scarred many a film, and Raees is unfortunately one of its biggest victims. The rise and fall of a ganglord, whose skirmishes with police and politicians lead to his downfall is not exactly a novel idea. But a different treatment would have worked wonders on any stale story. And here's where Rahul Dholakia falters big time. Despite providing a larger than life image to his hero, Dholakia fails to make the narrative engaging and coherent for the audience he is targeting. It's interesting to draw parallels to another gangster drama, Once Upon A Time in Mumbai, with Raees as both have similar plots set in similar period setting. But the former knows its audiences and accepts its masala persona. Raees, meanwhile, is stuck in a limbo of whether to be a realistic drama or a masala entertainer but doesn't do justice to either. The scenes of Raees' ascension to power, how he hoodwinks the police and wins an election from jail are written in a very lazy manner. The terrorism angle that should have been the tension-building twist turns out to be another yawn-worthy plot device for the writers who seemed clueless as to how to end this. However the biggest letdown of Shah Rukh Khan's Raees is the love track between Raees and his wife, that looks like an afterthought than a proper track. There is zero chemistry between SRK and Mahira, even with random insertion of songs here and there. Mahira mostly has the role of a decorative showpiece, while talented actors like Zeeshan Ayyub and Atul Kulkarni are sadly wasted. The editing is below par, while the music and the art direction are ho-hum.
Above all, it is Shah Rukh Khan's character which disappointed me the most. Though he has given his best here, we have this feeling the actor is trying too hard, and yet the movie does not offer him anything exceptional to do. Even with the those kohl-lined eyes, we can only see Shah Rukh Khan the actor and not the character in the role. His character might be a do-gooder to his people, but we can't help but see through Majmudar's eyes and think of him as man who gained power and money through illegal means. The movie wants us to sympathise with him, but gives us no good reason or a brilliant scene to do so. ALSO READ - Raees music review: Shah Rukh Khan's gangster drama has a good mix of soulful and situational tracks
What to do
As a movie, Raees is definitely a letdown especially for those who expect a Deewar-like dhamakedaar masala movie. Fans of Shah Rukh Khan might give the movie its huge initial but don't expect the road ahead to be a smooth ride. And warning for all superstars - acting with Nawazuddin Siddiqui is injurious to your own dramatic talents - he can steal your glory right from under your nose.
2.5 out of 5
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