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“RAEES” is well-constructed, but over-plotted and overlong!

Glorifying its superstar leading man, RAEES is, for the most part, surefooted, but its lengthy narrative and inclusion of useless subplots makes the film a tiring watch. It isn’t hugely flawed, but isn’t edited well enough to keep the audiences interested till the very end. Frequently bordering on boredom, the film is watchable but not recommended.

Raees is set in the early 80's and 90's in Gujarat, India. It is a story of a bootlegger, Raees (Shahrukh Khan), who builds an entire empire from the scratch. His rise and his relationships help him become the single most powerful man in the state. Less of a gangster but more of an impresario, Raees gains popularity and trust through his sharp, entrepreneurial and ruthless business mind. His unfettered determination, guided by a heart of gold, earns him a cult following. However, his downfall will be crossing paths with the no-nonsense police officer Majmudar, whose sole reason for existence is the elimination of crime. What ensues next is a battle of wits between the two.

The film starts off in an exciting manner, building into the larger than life character that is RAEES. However, as much as this film tries hard to be gritty, it just can’t shake off the immense weight of its superstar lead. The proceedings become massy, with well-timed dialogues, over the top action and implausible scenarios. Also, the responsibility to show SRK in good light, leaves this otherwise well-etched character, in a bit of an unreal grey area. Yes, the embodiment of the era is appropriate, the sets, the scenes, the background score, everything gives it the authentic feel of the bygone era, while also doubling as an ode to the cinema of those times. But the true nature of the highly-acclaimed Rahul Dholakia is lost in the process. This is purely mainstream cinema, but the fusion of the SRK world with Dholakia’s reality based cinema creates a sort of a mess in between.

Despite there being so much to like here – the appropriate atmosphere and vibe creation, the accurate knowledge of the times it is set in and the nicely sketched characters – the film is underwhelming and fails to be entertaining. There are so many subplots, which are introduced every few minutes, that you lose the track and never really get invested into anything that’s evolving on screen. Even the cop and gangster head-to-head seems frivolous after a while, as the cop is rendered sterile through his own system’s limitations. There’s no excitement in this hot pursuit whatsoever. Then, the script has its own problems, ingeminating from the same fusion that I talked about earlier. Also, the length of the film is a deterrent here. Had it been better edited, it could’ve been more likeable and entertaining. The songs are good and the production values are top-notch.

SRK is a huge relief from his usual self. Yes, his demeanour is still star-like and his swagger intact, but he embodies the character perfectly this time round. After FAN, he yet again impresses you with the display of his real prowess as an actor. Script flaws notwithstanding, he owns this character with panache. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is great, but his character appears to have been written half-heartedly. Lacking the punch, he never really is a competition to the power of RAEES. A better written role would’ve suited him more and could’ve perhaps made for a much more delicious watch for the audiences as well. Mahira Khan is surprisingly very confident and does her job extremely well. The very talented Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub is wasted in a paltry side-kick role. All others are passable.In all, RAEES is a case of a missed opportunity. Every scene displays promise, one which is never really encashed by the makers. It isn’t bad, but just too bloated and unentertaining for its theme. Passable!

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