When Shah Rukh Khan is good, he's good. But when he's bad, he's at his best. Raees directed by Rahul Dholakia is a story set in the Gujarat of 1980's and 90's when a small town boy named Raees went on to create a bootlegging empire of his own. However, his massive popularity finds him the rough side of the law as officer Maju...more
When Shah Rukh Khan is good, he's good. But when he's bad, he's at his best. Raees directed by Rahul Dholakia is a story set in the Gujarat of 1980's and 90's when a small town boy named Raees went on to create a bootlegging empire of his own. However, his massive popularity finds him the rough side of the law as officer Majumdar played Nawazuddin Siddique is after him. less
“The enthralling show of SRK-Nawaz will make you overlook its tiny flaws!”
I am confused about where to slot Raees. Is it a sentimental story about a bootlegger with a heart of gold or is it an action movie about a bootlegger with a heart of gold but hey! a guy’s got to kill sometimes right?
I guess the confusion comes about because the film follows two different approaches to the story of Raees who prospers by smuggling foreign liquor in Prohibition ruled Gujrat. The first half is fast and slick with lots of action as Raees transforms himself from an employee to a big bootlegger in his own right. He is smart, savvy and cleverly manages to evade the one cop who has made it his life mission to put Raees behind bars.
The second half is more introspective and broody as Raees falls into hard times thanks to his big ambitions and scheming politicians who manipulate him. He is angry but lost. The movie starts sagging under the weight of his do-gooder persona. This coupled with his guilt and make him look depressed and you begin to wonder where the “baniye ka dimaag and Miyanbhai ki daring” vanished.
The difference also comes about I think, because of SRK’s approach to the role. He is far more natural and unaffected in the first half and there are a few glimpses of his magic that die- hard fans will swoon over. He is self- assured and cocky yet warm and likeable. In the second half he becomes the commercial SRK, the one with the stock expressions and gestures he is well known for. It is yet again SRK playing himself and not becoming the character that he did so effortlessly pre-interval and that reduces the authenticity of the character.
And yet the movie has a core of integrity about the character it is portraying that holds it together. Raees’ life is built on the belief that business is a religion and everything is worth doing only when it doesn’t hurt somebody. When he sees his actions result in harm he turns on himself, losing his self-belief and confidence. Maybe if it didn’t fall prey to stock imagery and clichés when this crumbling happens, the journey would have been real.
Mahira Khan makes a decent Bollywood debut (and possibly exit) as his love interest though we could have done without the romantic songs between the duo that are most unimaginatively shot. Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub as Raees’ best buddy does a great job but the scene stealer is Nawazuddin as Majmudar the cop who decides that he is destined to be Raees’ nemesis. His character adds much needed humour to the story and his no no-nonsense style is in sharp contrast to SRK’s florid flourishes that are maybe a a bow to his superstardom.
Raees could have been sharper if it hadn’t got into maudlin and holier-than-thou territory because the Director is bent on proving that Raees was a good man. We don’t mind a bad man’s story either provided it hooks us. Raees doesn’t fully succeed but still it is worth a watch for a few glimpse of SRK’s magic and Nawazzudin’s Inspector Majmudar who can also do a mean MJ dance.