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Raees Movie Review: Shah Rukh Khan Served, Vintage Style

Shah Rukh Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui's chemistry is the high point of the film.

Shomini Sen | News18.comshominisen

Updated:November 1, 2017, 9:19 AM IST
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Raees Movie Review: Shah Rukh Khan Served, Vintage Style
A still from 'Raees'
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Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Mahira Khan, Atul Kulkarni

Director: Rahul Dholakia

Back in the early 1990s, when Shah Rukh Khan had just entered Bollywood, he made heads turn with his hatke choice of films and roles. At a time when his contemporaries played romantic heroes, or larger than life action heroes, SRK chose to play out and out negative roles and brilliantly balanced it out with romantic roles as well. For every Darr there was a Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, for every Anjaam, there was a Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. In no time, SRK left all his peers behind and clinched the top spot. While his position has been cemented there, over the years, the actor took a step back and the star took up formula films. The SRK that an entire generation grew up admiring for taking risks, had somehow gone missing. His latest, Raees, perhaps will help his fans rekindle that love for their favourite actor.

For starters, Rahul Dholakia’s film is an absolute commercial film, where the lead character, Raees Aslam, is depicted larger than life. He is on the wrong side of the law, yet has a Robin Hood streak in him. He kills people, yet loved by many for his charitable work. He misses bullets of the rival gang, kills with ease, impresses even the cops and wins elections without campaigning. But SRK’s performance is fine, not a single off-note by superstar, who has often been accused of over acting in films.

The story is pretty simple. Loosely based on Gujarat’s dreaded extortionist Abdul Latif’s life (though the makers have denied similarities) Raees narrates the story of Raees Aslam, a bootlegger whose meteoric rise is not appreciated by a lot of people. From rival gang lords, to the police, to even his own mentor- all want Raees out of their way. Alliances and enemies keep changing, but his constant supporters remain his wife (Mahira Khan), his best friend (Zeeshan Ayub) and the people in his locality, whom he has helped time and again.

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Raees' rise pricks cop Majmudar (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) the most, who takes every order in writing. Majmudar tracks Raees’ rise obsessively, and despite being sharp cop, is often outsmarted by Raees and his quick thinking.

While the film rests solely on SRK’s shoulder, filmmaker Rahul Dholakia manages to rope in impressive supporting cast. From Atul Kulkarni to Narendra Jha, the supporting cast is solid and deliver laudable performances. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, a man who can do almost every role with panache, matches SRK’s looming star status with a classy, smart performance. He has played a cop before in Kahaani, but this one is not similar to that role. While Kahaani’s character was far more aggressive and rather abusive, Nawazuddin’s Majmudar in Raees is a cool cucumber with a sly sense of humour. He is a gentleman at the end, who may tap all of Raees’ calls but knows when to put the headphone down when Raees is having a conversation with his wife.

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The scenes between SRK and Nawazuddin are electrifying. The two actors match each other with smart acting and make those scenes the best of the lot. It’s just war of words for them, but you enjoy it the most and almost don’t want them to stop talking. The actors’ share an infectious chemistry and you marvel looking at them perform.

SRK appears at ease in his character. Raees seems like a smooth talker, a man with a golden heart and someone you don't want to mess with. The actor steps out from his comfort zone and slips into the character well making the dreaded Raees rather human and lovable. He has flaws, he kills people for money, yet people look up to him. The script is, of course, tailor made for Khan and amply supports SRK in delivering a good performance. The scenes of Raees' initial struggle, where he and his best friend go from one gang lord to the other looking for investors for their dhanda look genuine and make for an endearing watch.

The film is though, not devoid of flaws. While the first half is thrilling and fast paced, full of witty lines- the second half slackens. There is very little discussed about Raees the politician, there is almost no mention of the son. Set in the 1980s, the film mostly remains true to its era but flounders a bit here and there.

Raees has a very 70’s masala film feel to it but with a lot of style. SRK’s pathani suits, the retro glasses that he wears, the way he talks of vyapaar with Majmudar- all is done in style making Raees a very stylish, retro film.

While the plot is predictable, it still is solid script and gives ample opportunity to both SRK and Nawaz to deliver. Dholakia’s debut film Parzania was hard hitting and realistic. But Raees is unapologetically commercial and that’s not a bad thing.

Should you be watching Raees? Yes, because despite its predictable plot, a slow second half- it has SRK delivering a sharp performance- something that his fans have been yearning to watch for a long time.

Rating: 3/5
| Edited by: Shomini Sen
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