The Badshah of Bollywood is on a roll… Last year there were two knock-out performances first in Fan and later in Dear Zindagi– and now he starts 2017 with a mind-blowing act in Raees ! Indeed, Shah Rukh Khan delivers one of his career best performances in and as the bootlegger Raees. It requires guts to take on such a complex role with strong negative shades. The character is menacing and ruthless and shows no remorse in killing anyone who makes fun of him, double-crosses him or tries to create obstacles in his path. At the same time he is shown to be a loyal friend, a romantic lover and also has a heart which beats for the poor.
The story is loosely based on the life of Abdul Lateef, an underworld figure in the eighties and supposedly an alleged associate of Dawood Ibrahim. It traces the rags-to-riches story of how a poor boy who is sucked into the illegal liquor business when he offers to carry the liquor bottles in his school bag for a small price eventually becomes the most powerful bootlegger in ‘dry’ Gujarat!
The lesson he learns from his mother at a young age- ‘Koi bhi dhanda chota nahin hota aur dhande se bada koi dharam nahin hota’ (No job in the world is small and there is no greater religion than one’s work)– leaves a deep impression in his mind and he gets fully embroiled in his illicit liquor business though he also finds time to help the needy with the money he makes.
Mahira Khan, the Pakistani actress who makes her debut in this film, forms his love interest and supports him in all his endeavours. He has a loyal friend in Zeeshan Ayub and their camaraderie is appealing. All is well in his world till the new police IPS Majmudar played by the versatile Nawazuddin Siddique decides to make it his life’s mission to get him arrested and have him pay for his crimes.
Now starts the cat-and-mouse game and the face-off between Shah Rukh and Nawazuddin becomes the biggest plus point of the film. Their confrontation scenes with the one-liner punches are a delight to watch!
THE PLUS POINTS:
The racy first half of the film starting from his childhood days grips us from the word go and manages to keep us hooked on to the roller-coaster events in Raees’s life . There are some brilliantly choreographed fight sequences especially the one in the butcher shop and when he massacres Atul Kulkarni’s henchmen.The action scenes and chase scenes showcase a new side of SRK and he looks extremely convincing as the action hero which makes one wonder why directors don’t cast him in action roles more often!
The second half though a little slow manages to keep us engrossed.
Apart from giving a remarkable performance, Shah Rukh Khan looks very handsome and charismatic; the beard, the ‘kohled’ eyes and the glasses –all suit him a lot!
Nawazuddin Siddique comes up with yet another brilliant performance and though he does not have as many scenes as Shah Rukh, he manages to steal the limelight whenever they are together.
The supporting cast especially Atul Kulkarni (as the first bootlegger for whom Raees starts working) and Zeeshan Ayub (his best friend) lend able support and are superb!!!
The background music is catchy especially the small signature piece which is played whenever Shah Rukh gets away with the loot. Sunny Leone looks stunning and her dance number is very catchy!
THE FLIP SIDE:
There are no nail-biting twists and turns which could have made this gangster drama more edgy and thrilling.
Mahira Khan is a big disappointment! She does not create any great impression and that special ‘X’-factor is sorely missing in her screen persona. With the result the romantic angle is lacklustre!
The songs are very average and in the absence of any great chemistry between the lead pair the duets tend to slow down the narrative…
The film makes us ponder on the well-known nexus between corrupt politicians, corrupt police officers and the underworld Dons in our country. To catch them is a near impossible task and the handful of honest policemen should have extraordinary patience and luck to prove anything against any of them.On the other hand, it also shows how anyone with resourcefulness and daring can actually manage to beat the system and commit crimes without any fear of being caught.
Though Raees cannot be classified as a great film, it is a good film, highly entertaining and definitely worth watching for Shah Rukh Khan’s intense performance and for the confrontation scenes between him and Nawazuddin Siddique!