Raees movie review: To watch or not?

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Raees movie review: To watch or not?

Raees is a lost opportunity in compelling filmmaking; it regurgitates all the stereotypes and treatments of the 1980s flicks, writes Deepa Gauri

By Deepa Gauri

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Published: Wed 25 Jan 2017, 1:19 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Feb 2017, 4:40 PM

Let us cut to the chase:
So how is Raees?
It is an average film, set in the 1980s, abounding in clichés, and with a directorial style that suits its period. 
But Shah Rukh Khan sure is superb?
Well, not really. He could have played Raees without missing a blink. His presence helps but it is not the next-level performance.
What of Mahira Khan, then?
She is ethereal alright, but gets an underwritten role, the sort played by virtually every Bollywood heroine.
It then has to be Nawazuddin Siddiqui right?
Sadly, not really, either. He repeats himself, and does a role that has been essayed with the same flourish by himself and Irfaan Khan.
Should we save the trip to the movie hall?
That is not something we advise on but let us say if you are a Bollywood buff, there is no harm in trying it out. And if you are a Shah Rukh Khan fan, you surely should - not that the film is a revelation on his talent but at least for his attempt, occasionally, to push himself.
What really goes wrong with Raees is its script. It is as old as its premise.
Co-written by its director Rahul Dholakia, the film treads faithfully on the path of the 'don' movies we have seen. The craft of directors such as Vidhu Vinod Chopra (Parinda) and Mani Ratnam (Nayakan) in taking the template created by the likes of Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather) and Brian De Palma (The Untouchables) is missing in Raees, as is the soul of the Salim-Javed films of the 1980s. It borrows from both and reaches nowhere.
That is sad because Raees had the premise for a powerful movie that could have captivated us with all the tools and talent in modern filmmaking. (On pluses, it has eloquent cinematography by KU Mohanan and pleasing music by Ram Sampath).
Instead it goes tick-by-tick to a check-list: Side-kick to hero; compassionate mother (who for a change dies early), upstaging of the existing chieftain, political bickering, and the cop on a cat-and-mouse game with the crafty hero.
Let us not get into the moral compass of the movie; in fact, the transformation from the 'goodie-goodie' boy who just happens to be bootlegging to an utter criminal who kills (for whatever reason) was the hook lost in translation.
Between the rise and dips and rise of Raees, there are the usual plot-points including the cabaret of the 1980s, which as always serves as the setting for cold-blooded murder.
Dholakia leaves out nothing: with songs, he glosses over the love of Raees for Aasiya (Mahira) and their family life. By interval, unsure of his own tangent, he resorts to a voice-over of Inspector Majmudar (Nawazuddin) telling us about his run-ins with Raees.
SRK's love for parkour continues and the superhuman stunts take away the grittiness that would have taken the film to the next level.
On final count, Raees sees Rahul Dholakia chickening out with none of the guts he showed in Parzania and creating a film that is neither indie-spirited or compellingly commercial.  Shah Rukh Khan fans might revel in the kohl-wearing coolness and occasional swagger of Raees. But it is hardly the sort of film that makes you say 'wow, SRK.' 
Directed by Rahul Dholakia
Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Mahira Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Now playing at theatres in the UAE
Rating: 2.5/5

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