After a hiatus of 4 plus years, Rahul Dholakia returns with his next presentation of an Excel & Red Chillies Production, RAEES.
Rahul Dholakia returns to Gujarat again, this time to present a gangster’s ‘fictional’ tale of rise to power, Raees Khan.
Full marks to be given to Shahrukh Khan for this valiant attempt. Being the star that he is, getting into the persona of Raees Khan, comes across so effortlessly for him, but am sure it wasn’t. He hits a home run in terms of nailing the character’s nuances and the Miyabhai/ Gujarati mannerisms.
Mahira Khan does a brilliant job as Aasiya and does hold her own in the second half in front of Shahrukh’s starpower and Zeeshan’s performance. Not to forget that she looks pretty too.
A film such as this, does depend a lot on its supporting cast, this is where Rahul Dholakia scores and fails. His selection of the supporting cast is bang on; his usage of them, not so much.
So you have Atul Kulkarni making a brilliant comeback after some time in mainstream cinema, showing glimpses of his menacing self from Satta; Sheeba Chaddha in a cameo of Raees’ mother is brilliant in her outburst towards the cops and dignified surrender to the doctor; Uday Tikekar as the opposition leader, Pasha Bhai is good whilst Pramod Pathak as the Chief Minister is brilliant. Jaideep Ahlawat as Nawab is a welcome presence on screen whilst Narendra Jha as Moosa commands the scene with his voice. Utkarsh Mazumdar (Dr. Sanjanwala) is his comic best.
The pity is that somehow in the writing (Harit Mehta, Ashish Vashi, Niraj Shukla) and editing, (Deepa Bhatia) certain things fall in the gap. Continuity gaps keep marring the film’s narrative, be it the beard of Shahrukh before/after and during the song Zaalima, the cigarette butt under the swing when Raees breaks down (considering Raees doesn’t smoke) or even the fact that the dirt hits Shahrukh’s face even before he falls on the ground. Also, the special effects during the assassination attempt is rather poor. Also, Mahira’s character is shown as a Shia Muslim but the photo frame in the entrance is of the Bori spiritual leader. The film is set in the late eighties, considering that Mahira is shown dancing to the Mr. India song, then why did they use Sunny for Laila, rather Ek Do Teen would have been more topical for that time zone. Likewise, after announcing her pregnancy pre interval, for quite some time post interval the baby is nowhere to be seen until the Zaalima song. The only reason I mention these glitches is that one expects more from the team behind the camera, given their high credentials.
One doesn’t have anyone else to blame but Rahul and Ritesh, the makers of the film. They should have got their act together before using Shahrukh in this manner. As a director, Rahul fails post interval, which is where SRK the actor and star saves the day. This is the part where the supporting cast would have created a better impact had they had more screen time.
One of the highlights of the clever writing pre-interval, is Nawaz’s entry. If you consider the length of Nawaz’s role, had it been played by the original choice of Farhan, then it might have been considered a ‘special appearance’/ cameo, just like Dil Dhadakne Do. Not that Nawaz doesn’t do a brilliant job, but there should have been so much more that could have been exploited by more face/offs between SRK and him. This is Rahul’s failure. Towards the climax too, somehow, they failed to capitalize on the ‘baniye ka dimaag’ aspect of Raees. There should have been a twist in the tale which highlighted that, rather than the one actually served to us.
All in all, the film is definitely worth watching, for the performances of the entire unit, but SRK’s charm and Nawaz’s wit, are sure to make this worth your while in the cinema.
By: Yusuf Poonawala