Shahrukh Khan (Raees Alam) has finally arrived, with little scope for his usual overdoing of a role and embracing comparative subtlety for once, after all his “aa raha hoon” reiterations.
A refurbished Robin Hood Pandey bootlegger, Raees embodies vigour, compassion, romance, cleverness, principles, “Baniye ka dimaag aur Miyanbhai ki daring” and all the whatnots of a typical Bollywood hero who emerges as a victor against all odds.
Even if the odds are his own anti-hero characteristics.
Raees, the film, successfully gives the viewer a realistic taste of Gujarat- it’s all in the style of tea cups, the roads, the houses and, of course, the tiny servings of nicely picked-up dialect here and there.
That’s pretty much where the reality ends, thanks to Bollywood’s spoonfuls of stereotypical drama: needlessly elongated chase and fight sequences; an item number for errm… no clue; protagonist’s forgetfulness of their significant weaknesses (Raees’ weak eyesight, in this case) plus defying logic during a fight and songs among other things.
The songs are ill-fitted in the script. They crop up from nowhere and the film could have easily sufficed without their breaking the flow. The background score, however, is pretty good.
Also, for the longest time, it appears as if the female lead, Mahira Khan (who plays the role of Asiya) had been signed just to display her bright countenance and nicely designed clothes during random song sequences.
However, the significance of her character surfaces eventually. She is depicted as a strong woman who doesn’t fear confronting his gangster husband and, in fact, is the only one who gets away with calling him “Battery saala“. But obviously, that isn’t the only thing that defines her short-lived, though, strong character.
Asiya is fearless. Her politically active mindset is shone through her garnering of votes for Raees. And when she does that, I heaved a sigh of relief for a woman was not used as a mere eye-candy in a superstar hero-centric film. Her character had a definite purpose to fulfil.
On dissimilar lines, one person who received lesser due than he should have got, was Zeeshan Ayub, who played the role of Raees’ sidekick, Saqib. Yes, the highly talented Ayub was left as an insignificant character which anybody could have played. They roped in Ayub and sort of wasted his talent.
And then there is an absolutely thunder-stealing entry and performance by Nawazuddin Siddiqui who plays the role of an upright, no-nonsense-taking ACP Mujmudar (watch out for some surprisingly great pelvic moves there).
He successfully outshines everybody that he shares the screen space, for whatever time, with (even Shahrukh Khan). One would await more of Majmudar’s scenes as soon as they would get over: that is how well Nawazuddin delivers the role.
His dialogues and, in fact, a lot of dialogues are creative, catchy, and most importantly, relevant unlike much of the second half of the film which could’ve been stitched better. Moreover, Raees could have set an example by avoiding clichés like a big turning point occurring amidst an item song revelry. Little things like that, y’know?
Sidenote: Since we’ve mentioned dialogues, it’s imperative for us to mention one noteworthy thing- the dialogue delivery. The sounds of proper pronunciation and enunciation of Urdu words is immensely refreshing (remember ‘Khan from the epiglottis?’).
Although Raees- the character- fulfilled all expectations of a “Baniye ka dimag aur miyanbhai ki daring” through his manoeuvres, Raees- the film- did not leave a lasting impact.
However, one minor thing that definitely left an impact was the non-materialisation of the “aa raha hoon” dialogue. There were numerous scenes where I kept prompting “aa raha hoon” thinking it was time Raees finally uttered that, but alas!
Raees, ends up making the viewer empathise with himself, (much like Baazigar), who is a smuggler and criminal after all.
Altogether, Raees is a one-time watch with a powerful first and slothful second half.
Featured Image 1 Source: Video Screengrab/YouTube