In Rahul Dholakia’s Raees, the settings are grand and delicious. There is Shah Rukh Khan, styled with a beard and anger in his eyes, playing the title role of a Gujarati bootlegger and gangster.
He is, we are told, someone with a Baniye ka dimaag aur Miyanbhai ki daring, which can loosely be translated as ‘one with the intelligence of a Bania and the fearlessness of a Muslim’.
The story follows Raees’ rise from a daring young runner working for a local bootlegger in the 1970s Fatehpura to a liquor baron, who would bump off his rivals including his mentor, even as tears roll down from his eyes while firing the gun.
But somewhere along the line, a smart cop named Majmudar (a terrific Nawazuddin Siddiqui) does everything to foil the don’s activities. Though Raees uses his connections to get him transferred, Majmudar relentlessly follows his target.
The story is said to be inspired from the life of Abdul Latif, the Gujarat underworld kingpin from the past, who is believed to have close connections with Dawood Ibrahim. Latif was charged with 243 criminal cases against him, including 64 murders and had alleged involvement in the Mumbai blasts in 1993.
Though Raees has its moments and there is honesty involved in the making, this is at best a confused film.
Dholakia, who directed the well appreciated Parzania in 2005, is evidently not sure whether to pitch it as a realistic tale or as a masala entertainer. The backdrop, shot brilliantly by K U Mohanan, gives an authentic feel. But too much drama, action and the frequent song n dance sequences, including a Sunny Leone item number, doesn’t help things in anyway making this one a tiring watch.
The situations are predictable and there is not enough material in the script that keeps the viewers engaged or excited.
Shah Rukh Khan performs convincingly in a film, which shows him as some kind of a Robin hood. Though he can’t get rid of his trademark mannerisms completely, you have to appreciate his conviction.
But it is Nawazuddin Siddiqui who takes away your breath with his ease and confidence. Among the rest, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub shines as the hero’s confidant but suffers as little attention is given to his character after a while. Mahira Khan, who plays the heroine, looks svelte but has nothing much to do.
Raees may not be a bad film, but it’s not a great one either, in spite of having all the exquisite ingredients. Let’s say, it’s a lost opportunity.