There’s a scene in Raees where Shahrukh Khan beats up a “Saeth” while he was watching an Angry-young-man-avatar of Amitabh on screen, where Amitabh is seen beating the “always-evil” Prem Chopra!
Raees’ storyline also reminds you of those Masala entertainers from the 80’s with multiple sub-plots infused in it. The bad guy isn’t actually “bad” but is a Robinhood at heart.
Raees is entertaining, no doubt. But it relies heavily on the performances of Shahrukh and Nawazuddin, without which the movie fails to take-off in the second half. It just doesn’t hit the levels you’d expect it to. The build-up in the first half for the ultimate clash between Raees (played by Shahrukh) and Majmudar (played by Nawazuddin) is exciting and laced with amazing dialogues. But as the film develops it just tries to fit-in a little too much and strays away.
Watching Shahrukh in one of his best performances is definitely a treat. He essays the role of a bootlegger businessman delivering catch-phrase dialogues with a sense of charm that only he could have. It’s hard to find a frame where he misses the beat. Be it in the over-the-top action sequences where he’s bad ass and just cannot tolerate anyone calling him a “battery” or his “jugalbandi” of sorts in confronting Majumdaar Saaheb. Or being romantic with the leading lady, Mahira Khan, Shahrukh nails it with perfection.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui, as always, delivers in his character as the Cop whose mission is to stop Raees. He’s a no-nonsense cop who belts one-liners and knows how to be funny. Scenes with Nawaz and Shahrukh are the highlight of the film. While Shahrukh adds in the masala, Nawaz keeps it grounded.
Background score and the Music of the film has and old charm like the cinematography. The eye for periodic detail by Rahul Dholakia (director) is visible but the screenplay falters as the story develops. Dholakia struggles to find the balance between fast-paced drama and touching character subtleness.
The movie is largely about Raees and Majmudar, and Dholakia ensures that it remains so. However, in an attempted push for commercialization, the beauty of numerous nuances get lost. The conflict which Raees undergoes after a gunaah ,he commits or how Mahira (his wife) consoles him post that or even the relationship between his partner-in-crime Siddique (played by the talented Mohd. Zeeshan Ayub) are the mis-hits. And these are the details that make you feel, something is amiss.
Another problem which the film faces is the “need to make” Raees the good guy, especially towards the second half.
Raees is a good movie which suffers the curse of the second-half but still survives thanks to Shahrukh and Nawazuddin. Watch it for the performances and the dialogues which are worth a whistle.
I’m going with 3/5 for Raees. Go entertain yourself.