Just how predictable is Raees?

Published: January 26, 2017
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PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Raees is manna for Shah Rukh Khan fans. We watched the film at the posh Metro Cinema but it felt like we were sitting at the erstwhile Novelty in Grant Road. Like Novelty, where movie goers were as unabashedly boisterous as patrons in upper-class cinemas are restrained, the audience at Metro hooted, shrieked and even danced when Khan appeared on the screen for the first time and each time he delivered a punch-line.

In Raees, the camera is glued either to Khan’s face or his ripped body. For instance, a Muharram procession in the early minutes of the film is an excuse for a slow pan of Khan’s physique. He plays Raees, a bootlegger in Gujarat, and the scene shows his transition from a young boy flagellating himself during Ashura to a muscular adult whipping himself with knives, rivulets of blood throwing his six-pack into relief. For fans, moments such as these will be enough reason to watch the movie as there isn’t much else to it.

Shah Rukh Khan and Mahira Khan in Raees.
Photo: Facebook

The movie is a standard cops and robbers tale

The film is supposedly based on the life of Abdul Latif, who ran an illegal liquor business in Gujarat till he was shot in 1997. Though the filmmakers deny any similarity. Raees starts his career as kid couriering bottles of alcohol for Jairaj (Atul Kulkarni), the top bootlegger in the area, and goes on to run an empire of his own assisted by childhood friend and right-hand man Sadiq (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub). Naturally, he forms enemies – his former boss Jairaj, the cops, politicians, all of whom at various opportune moments switch from being his friends to his foes. Naturally Raees outwits each of them using, what his mentor Jairaj calls, his “baniye ka dimaag, miyanbhai ki daring” (The mind of a businessman and courage of a Muslim).

Along the way, he gets married to the neighbourhood belle (Mahira Khan).
Photo: Facebook

Along the way, he gets married to the neighbourhood belle, Aasiya (Mahira Khan). The cop in the equation is Jaideep Majmudar (Nawazuddin Siddiqui).

Nawazuddin Siddiqui is the best thing about the film

Siddiqui is one of those actors who is watchable in just about any kind of movie. In Raees, the balance is entirely tipped in favour of Khan. Attention is lavished on his face, his body; he gets to mouth all the one-liners, of which there are several.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Raees (2017).
Photo: IMDb

Perhaps the story might have been more compelling with a different lead. That way the narrative might have taken precedence instead of simply being a convenient star vehicle. Yet Siddiqui snares your attention with his intelligent gaze, dry humour and subtle performance. A clean cop, Majmudar is the bane of his corrupt bosses and criminals. He makes it his mission to nab Raees, who finds all sorts of ways to smuggle alcohol to people, from injecting tomatoes with booze to hiding bottles in cartons of school textbooks.

The rest of the cast is practically put into the shade, including Pakistani actor Mahira Khan, who is made to do little other than simper and dance.

Raees’s fall is tied to the bomb blasts in Bombay in 1993.
Photo: IMDb

The end is unsurprising yet significant

Raees’s fall is tied to the bomb blasts in Bombay in 1993 (Abdul Latif was a suspect in the blasts case). He’s done in by a Bombay mobster, who’s no doubt an allusion to Dawood Ibrahim. Predictably, Raees, the benevolent gangster, delivers comeuppance to the orchestrators of the blasts and then hands himself over to Majmudar. While the end is a foregone conclusion, it makes something of an impact as the manner in which the coda is delivered reminds you of the Gujarat police’s shameful history of extra-judicial killings.

This post originally appeared on The Daily Pao here

Pronoti Datta

Pronoti Datta

The author is the co-founder and editor of The Daily Pao in Mumbai. She tweets @prettynous

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Patwari

    Great blog! Excellent! Kudos to the author! Please keep it up.
    Very refreshing. And, original, in a way. Will read if you write.
    Had no idea there are upper class, middle class, lower class
    movie theatres in Hindustan. Now that, is a revelation. And
    people dance in the aisles during the movie! Wow! Good!
    Have no idea where Metro Theatre is. Would that be Bandra?
    Everyone knows Shah Rukh Khan lives in Bandra, Bombay
    Where is this Grant Road? A middle class neighborhood? A
    Bombay slum area? [Of course, it can be Googled]
    Perhaps you could write more about Bombay. As a city-logue
    and tell us what the city is like. You will never run out of topics.
    Have been to Northern Areas of your fair country, for hunting,
    but, unfortunately, had no chance to visit Bombay, your hometown.Recommend

  • Ahmar

    So its Ram Janay part II?Recommend

  • Jesse McCartney

    @patwari
    There is no distinction in theatres. But rather we have theatres with different luxury and as such different rates. So you can obviously make out the class of people who will watch a 30Rs movie and enjoy being themselves dancing and whistling while the one who pay 350 bucks in PVR are mostly sober types.
    Being a Mumbaikar, lemme tell you there is no place in Mumbai without slums barring South Mumbai perhaps. Grant Road falls in South Mumbai btw. But there are cheap theatres in and around Mumbai everywhere. Recommend

  • twister286

    The only reason this movie has been hyped up in Pakistan is because of Mahira Khan. She is a dancing-cum-eye candy mannuequin in the movie , a mediocre actress with plastic expressions. The movie itself is predictable. An actor of Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s calibre is utterly wasted on the predictable bore-fest this movie becomes.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Thanks for the heads up. So it’s the price of the ticket.
    Seems obvious now.
    Have heard a great deal about Bombay. Seems to have
    a great ambiance and a very diverse ethnic flavor. That
    translates into food too. A colorful city, indeed.
    Father was there in the late 80’s. and bagged a tiger in the
    Western Ghats. Still have the skin and the very well mounted
    head. The taxidermist was a master. [it took 3 months]
    Of course, tigers are an endangered species now and well
    protected. Perish the thought of hunting one nowRecommend

  • hp kumar

    caliber and nawazuddin?If i could remember this guy acted in a movie called some majhi and that character is rightful place for this guy.SRK is indeed making wrong choice while picking movies now a days but do you still think these smallies stand anywhere near SRK.I see some short of muslim identity is taking tall over him for which only he is to blame.He took responsibility to represent muslims anywhere in the world.He is targeted and rightly so.His confidence goes down.And that can easily be seen on screen.Otherwise he is a one man army .He does not need anyone’s support to carry a movie.Recommend

  • gp65

    Metro is in the affluent South Bombay. There is no limitation to who can watch movies in any given theatre other than ability to pay. Those theatres in posh localities with high ticket prices will attract a different kind of audience than those in down market areas with low ticket prices.
    IT is not common for people to dance in the aisles but the biggest fans of people like Shah Rukh and Salman who catch movies first day first show certainly make their loyalty felt through dancing and whistling.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Thanks so much. Must admit ,fascinated by Bombay.
    Have heard of the ‘Maharani’s Necklace’ which is
    actually the coastline/beaches in the shape of a necklace.
    Perhaps you can call it a bay.
    And at night, when the lights come on, the view is stupendous.
    Don’t know if all this is still valid or still viable. Considering years
    of construction may have changed the shape. Population boom.
    Have also heard of Juhu Beach. Family members stayed there
    at one time. Years ago. And they use to reminiscence about it.
    Was considered a beautiful beach,…. then.Recommend

  • twister286

    He is a really good actor. SRK is old and riding on hype now.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I have not seen the movie and don’t intend to……the reason being that Shahrukh Khan ( big star that he is ) is still doing the same old thing…..I feel he should learn from Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar or even Aamir Khan who have upped their game to provide great entertainment…..because that’s what movies are all about.Recommend