Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Mahirah Khan, Nawazuddin Siddique, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Atul Kulkarni
Direction: Rahul Dholakia
Oh, ‘Raees’! I wish you didn’t leave me so sad. Action films aren’t my favourite genre, but I love fast-paced edgy thrillers. ‘Raees’ works at so many levels and yet, the end left me disappointed.
Rahul Dholakia’s film – the rags to riches story of a self-made man, Raees Alam, who hates being called battery – has all the makings of a 1970’s potboiler. Shah Rukh Khan, with his kohl-lined eyes has the dimaag of a baniya and the derring-do of a miyan bhai – basically our protagonist is blessed with the acumen of a businessman as well as the audacity of a Muslim.
Even the nomenclature is interesting. It refers not to financial status or literal riches, but rather to the aristocratic manner in which the man conducts himself. So, our Raees doesn’t believe in just making money for himself, he is also someone who sees himself as a messiah of the poor and downtrodden. Although this Robinhood is flawed in very many ways, he has so many redeeming qualities that you end up rooting for him.
When you see him circumventing the law and manipulating his opponents to emerge victorious, you feel the urge to stand up and cheer for him. You want to believe in the irrational invincibility of this anti-hero no matter how impossible the situation, how stubborn and upright the opposition in his pursuit.
Which brings us to Nawazuddin Siddique. As the tough police officer after SRK, Nawazuddin matches the superstar scene for scene. Not your regular dialogue-spewing screen cop, he underplays his performance to such a degree that what comes across is an utter lack of passion for everything but his job.
Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, a capable and sometimes brilliant actor, is effective as Raees’ right-hand man, but seems to be overwhelmed by the stature of the star cast.
Mahirah Khan is, thankfully, more than a mere prop but I wish the way she managed to successfully canvass for an unlikely candidate in his absence was more fleshed out on screen – a more nuanced approach would have lent the election win more plausibility.
Director Dholakia should be lauded for creating an interesting canvas: the action sequence in the slaughterhouse, an edgy chase across rooftops, the election campaign are all tight and well-shot.
The good work notwithstanding, it was the ending that I liked the least. Here is a man who knows how to beat the system who finally meets his end for a crime that he has been tricked into. I mean, really?
This doesn’t feel like a Republic Day release – I want to head into my long weekend feeling happy and upbeat, I want to see my superstar rise above the legalities and the law to emerge victorious.
I hate the fact that that doesn’t happen!
However, I would still suggest that you watch the film, because among all the action films that Shah Rukh has attempted, this has to be the best. Watch this for SRK’s fistfight with butchers. You will almost forget this is the same man who makes women swoon with his outstretched arms and pastel sweaters.