Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees was the most anticipated film of the year. The film had its share of controversies but it finally made it to the theaters. How’s the film though? Does it live up to it’s hype? Is it any better than any of the typical crime tropes that we are hit with at least once a year? PopChutney brings you it’s Raees review.
The film is essentially the rise, rise, and fall of Raees, a boy who’s born to a woman scavenger in Gujarat. Raees is based in the Gujarat of the ’80s, where Prohibition was not just a threat but a reality. As the voice-over says, the first step towards crime is the ban on anything.
Raees grows up in a locality that over time becomes his, and he becomes their’s. He – and his illegal business – is with them when Gujarat is rocked by the mill closures and other such sundry economical fallouts. Raees becomes the messiah of the locality but not with a price. During his business, he makes enemies with other liquor barons, politicians and criminals and we all know how that life turns out.
The story’s not great shakes, it’s just something that is a bare minimum for budget film that has one of the biggest stars in the country. There’s a twist, but then, it’s a crime film. Isme twist nahin hua to kisme hoga?
Let’s talk about why Raees is a missed opportunity. Rahul Dholakia (Parzania) misses a golden chance to speak about Prohibition, the consumption of alcohol, the difference between social drinking and being addicted to alcohol. The film daisy-steps away from these issues and cramps in as many slo-mos of Shah Rukh as the film could, and then one more.
We do not know if the direction and screenplay is lazy or just a hat-tip to all the dons that we have ever seen. The most memorable entrance of a don for India is Amitabh Bachchan’s Vijay Dinanath Chauhan meeting Kancha Cheena, clad in a white suit in a motorboat. There is no other scene that depicts the Indian don better. And we have a motorboat scene in Raees.
There is the Wilson Fisk car scene from Daredevil that creates him. That one scene that takes him away from being a comic book villain to literary character. And Raees has a car scene too, woohoo! Is a Bollywood mafia film complete with a man killing a room full of villains with a specific kind of gun? That guy in the suit did it with a machine gun, here Raees does it with a shotgun.
They decided to take inspiration from the scene where Captain America speaks to Black Widow in a church. Remember the tilted, close focus filming style? That was to give the audience the idea that they are looking at Gods taking decisions that will have repercussions for generations. Here, they use that same camera angle while Raees is discussing the lives of hundreds of people with his wife.
The saddest part of the film is that chase sequence. People who grew up on Darr will remember that chase sequence that is actually the one sequence that had an audience root for SRK- much before those vapid DDLJ poses – and here, the same dude allows stunt doubles to do a chase sequence. Why, Bhai, why?
We haven’t even begun to speak about the technical and screenplay aspects of the film. This guy goes onto a career of crime because of the one dialogue that his mother says. Two scenes after that scene, the next we see of her is – never. We just see her tombstone. Wasn’t that character important?
There’s this killing scene where Raees shoots a guy not once, but twice with a shotgun. There’s a whole song and dance going on the lower floor. Wouldn’t that guy who’s killed fall downstairs and scramble the dancers? No. Because we want another Shah Rukh slo-mo scene with Sunny Leone dancing in the background.
Make no mistake about it, Raees is not a bad film. It is just an ok film. It’s actually a film that’d you watch only if it comes for free on Netflix. It’s not something that you will buy a Blu Ray of. Neither does it have a message, nor does it have any addition to the craft of film-making.