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Raees Review

Raees
Josh / fullhyd.com
EDITOR RATING
7.0
Performances
Script
Music/Soundtrack
Visuals
8.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Suggestions
Can watch again
No
Good for kids
No
Good for dates
Yes
Wait to rent it
No
One Khan works in films which are bent on letting us know their protagonist is pure as a snowflake. He carries cherubic innocence across the border into Pakistan never resorting to lying even when his neck is on the line. Yet another Khan acts in roles that are perfect. His film will show you a dad who won't even raise his hand on his girls - they become world champions out of voluntary determination, of course. And then you come across this other Khan who seems to be saying, why be pure or perfect when you can be perplexing?

Raees is a perplexing film. Starting with the protagonist (Shah Rukh Khan as Raees) himself. His mum tell him that no business is small and no religion is bigger than business. So he sells booze in a dry state (Gujarat, of course) while being tailed by shrewd cop Majmudar (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). Before you can ponder over the morality in bootlegging, Raees is bribing politicians, inciting riots, and even murdering people who get in the way of his business. You know you aren't supposed to take him to be a hero. He is an anti-hero and that is how it is intended.

More perplexing is the film's star who accepts these strange roles. Quite recently, he played a narcissistic star and his doppelganger fan who seeks revenge over the former. Neither of those characters was perfect (sadly, nor was the film). Now he plays a Muslim bootlegger who screws up often and lands into quite real trouble, physically and ethically. These are roles that top stars wouldn't even hear of in our risk-averse film industries. Yet, Shah Rukh Khan plays them with aplomb. Whatever be the reasons for and whatever be the roles he is taking up, he's certainly not playing safe.

The most perplexing thing about Raees however is its director. Rahul Dholakia's best known work is Parzania, a film about a Parsi family which loses a child in the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. Touching and thought-provoking, nothing about that film betrays a commercial sensibility. And that same director now has a film with Sunny Leone in an item number! It's like visiting your school's language teacher who taught you a thing or two about integrity and morality and "dharam", but who now pours you a peg of Old Monk and sets aside a plate of chilli chicken to go with it. It's like he's saying "Dharam can be dharam but then rum is rum".

Raees is unabashedly commercial. The songs, particularly the item number, are a misstep but the background score is alive and kicking. Khan jumps to some nicely choreographed desi-parkour in the middle of a Moharram march. Majumdar and Raees exchange juicy one-liners. Their respective attempts to get the better of each other are engaging, if not exciting. And most importantly, the film knows to worship its star with unerring frequency and creativity. This commercial entertainer certainly entertains.

Dholakia doesn't leave it at that. He does other interesting things like texturing his Gujarat the way a Ghosh or Sircar would detail their Bengal. You know that Siddiqui's Majmudar is not of equal priority as Khan's Raees, and yet Dholakia will never let you feel like Majmudar is shortchanged by the film. There's a cool and admirable dignity in the conflict. Something that Siddiqui makes great use of.

The filmmaker's flourishes along with the actors' rich performances could prove to be worth your ticket money. However, the film still walks a tight rope on morality. Add to that the political atmosphere where religion and economics are often mixed up, and you'll begin to observe that the tight-rope walk is held on top of burning embers. Whether the rope-walker walks the rope or falls to be burnt really depends on the viewer. All we can tell you is it's a, well, perplexing trick.
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Raees (hindi) reviews
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  • Cast
    Shah Rukh Khan, Mahira Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Atul Kulkarni, Sheeba Chaddha, Sunny Leone
  • Music
    Ram Sampath
  • Director
    Rahul Dholakia
  • Theatres
    Not screening currently in any theatres in Hyderabad.
RAEES USER REVIEWS
1 - 7 OF 7 COMMENTS
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Ghazala Rizvi on 31st Jan 2017, 7:31am | Permalink
Josh, I think it is a good review and captures the essence of the movie pretty well. Also, it's a real SRK movie after a long time, so it needs to be judged with the backdrop of recent crappy SRK movies in mind.
Josh on 31st Jan 2017, 10:56am | Permalink
My childhood was rather SRK-free (Bollywood-free, in fact). And later I never saw why the guy was a huge star. Sure, I liked Swades and maybe even Asoka (I'm sorry?) but DLLJ or KKHH mean nothing to me. My fascination with SRK started only recently after Fan and Dear Zindagi. He seems comfortable with himself, warts and all. And that's really interesting in a star.
The Common Movie Goer on 1st Feb 2017, 2:06am | Permalink
(Read in a light/humorous tone. No intention of starting a comment section fight. All opinions are strictly my own, and do not apply to everyone. You might totally disagree with me, and I am fine with it. Speaking from mass audience perspective.)

HOW DARE YOU? Josh, I can *not* believe you said that. Never saw why the guy was a huge star? Come on! The man's as charming as charming gets. DDLJ is the second best Hindi movie ever made (I will always maintain that OSO is the best, don't judge me). KKHH was amazing, and (SPOILER ALERT), who didn't almost shed a tear when the man lay on a death bed with Preity Zinta next to him, huh? Guy seriously knows how to act, how to romance, and how to dominate the screen.

Sure, Fan sucked, and Happy New Year and Chennai Express were just above average. But Dilwale was enjoyable and full of laughs. The reason he is so adored is because his wit and charm translate on screen. The only other actor who can beat him in terms of charm is Bhai, but Bhai was born with it. Shahrukh's sophistication is more of the cultivated sort.

Not to leave out anyone in the triumvirate, I have to refer to Mr. Perfectionist. Aamir isn't charming. He is very shrewd and intelligent, his choice of movies reflects that. I love his movies, but for some reason, I just don't think he has the gravitas the other Khans possess. That's the reason he can't do well in ridiculous roles like those in Dhoom 3. But PK was on whole different level.
Josh on 1st Feb 2017, 12:34pm | Permalink
Haha! Where have you been man? I love your disclaimer. Only thing is you needn't mention it. We aren't exactly a raucous crowd, you know. Most debate here is just that - debate.

Coming to SRK, I suppose impressions need to be struck while the iron is hot. You must have noticed many north Indians grappling with understanding the phenomenon called Rajnikanth. It isn't something you process when you haven't been with it through its growth. While not that bad, my perception of the SRK phenomenon is quite similar. I understand it but I don't necessarily feel it.

Also, I believe you confused my referring to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (KKHH) with Kal Ho Na Ho (KHNH). I did watch Kal Ho Na Ho in a cinema when it released. I enjoyed the humour tremendously but didn't connect with it emotionally. My most vivid memory of it, though, is SRK's banter with the Naina's baby sister. Few things are more charming than making a child smile.
The Common Movie Goer on 2nd Feb 2017, 6:10am | Permalink
Haha. I didn't want to hurt the FullHyd community, I love it too much to be ostracized. I've been wrapped up with course work, a couple of more months to go.

I didn't get confused, too big of an SRK fan to do that. I was referring to both KKHH and KHNH. Love them both. And KKHH even has Bhai in it.
Ghazala on 31st Jan 2017, 8:32pm | Permalink
The four you listed (Swades, Asoka, Dear Zindagi, and even Fan) are probably the only good ones. Rest...well you needed to be hooked on to him from his "Fauji" days to keep watching him even in a Happy New Year...or Dilwale ):
Josh on 1st Feb 2017, 12:37pm | Permalink
I'd like to know more of the Fauji days, Rizvi, if you can get yourself to write a little bit about it. I've been recommended Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman and Darr. What do you think of these films?
Ghazala on 4th Feb 2017, 2:00pm | Permalink
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBUryt4BpMY
maybe check this out...

and well, I was totally biased and crazy about him during those days ...Gentleman and Darr...so can't give an objective comment :) But you can check out Pardes, Yes Boss, Anjaam, and some more from the time - all had different themes and were pretty enjoyable.
Josh on 31st Jan 2017, 11:13am | Permalink
And thanks, Rizvi :)
Suman Shetty on 28th Jan 2017, 1:47pm | Permalink
Why do you 'philosophize' all these stupid movies? And who told you RGV is arrogant and malicious?? Don't be presumptive either positively or negatively.
Josh on 28th Jan 2017, 6:04pm | Permalink
I 'philosophise' largely because I enjoy it, Shetty. And I don't think Rgv of all people would mind people having opinions on him.
Suman Shetty on 29th Jan 2017, 9:16pm | Permalink
RGV minds it or not, it wouldn't hurt to try to have a 'right opinion'. Malicious is a very nasty word to use, especially if used to describe a man who gave new life to so many artists.

What smug and pompous Sharukhs, Salmans, Pawan Kalyans, Bala Krishnas and Chiranjeevis et cetera, who did nothing but subjecting the film world to a creative suffocation, has been doing/will most likely do, is,in fact, far better qualified to be called m-a-l-i-c-i-o-u-s. But you do not feel the need to have an 'opinion' on them because they do not feel the need to have any 'opinion' at all.
Josh on 30th Jan 2017, 9:04am | Permalink
While no one is getting hurt or affected because of my saying so and so, I do understand what you are saying. I respect your opinion, Shetty. Can you return the favour?
JayZ on 29th Jan 2017, 10:20pm | Permalink
Anna leave it....very sensitive person you are
Ajay on 27th Jan 2017, 10:57am | Permalink
I haven't watched the movie. But this is unlike most other reviews. This one makes me want to watch it, but the others don't. I guess I will watch it anyways.
Josh on 27th Jan 2017, 8:49pm | Permalink
Waiting for your opinion :) Also, thanks. That's one of the best compliments a review of mine's gotten.
Kanye on 27th Jan 2017, 2:46am | Permalink
Josh, don't you think JayZ is to fullhyd as RGV is to twitter? :)
Josh on 27th Jan 2017, 10:41am | Permalink
Intense opinions? Yes. Arrogant and malicious? No.
JayZ on 27th Jan 2017, 7:26pm | Permalink
Thanks Josh....Hope this Kanye is not as obnoxious as the real one:-P
Josh on 27th Jan 2017, 8:42pm | Permalink
Sigh.. stop this, you both. Go watch Abhishek Upmanyu's stand up piece 'Delhi, Mumbai, and rich people'.
JayZ on 27th Jan 2017, 11:14pm | Permalink
Just joking Josh...
.but my profession and my workplace allow me to watch only telugu films and a few big hindi films.:-(.
JayZ on 26th Jan 2017, 6:01pm | Permalink
Shah Rukh is ABSOLUTELY playing it safe Josh.All he did was pandering to his fans.
JayZ on 26th Jan 2017, 5:59pm | Permalink
I expected a cat and mouse game between Nawaz and Shah Rukh.But what I got was a bland story directed in a very lazy manner.Sorry Josh but in my opinion, you got this one wrong.Hey but even Kohli gets an occasional low score:-P
JayZ on 26th Jan 2017, 5:58pm | Permalink
SURPRISED Josh that you gave such a good rating to this movie.I watched this yesterday and I was terribly disappointed.Except for the production values, nothing is good in this movie.A predictable story, directed in a predictable manner, no good songs, no big climax.....nothing is worth remembering in this movie.Atleast in movies like Hate Story 3 and Wajah Tum Ho, the sex scenes and steamy songs linger with us for some ime.But I found nothing worth remembering in Raees.The movie had a 90s vibe to it, in terms of screen play and story.
Josh on 27th Jan 2017, 10:38am | Permalink
It probably doesn't come across in my writings here but I love the 90's style mass cinema. I love a strong protagonist and his/her conflict with a seemingly stronger adversary. Rajnikant's Basha-to-Chandramukhi era is a pinnacle of this kind of movies for me.

What upsets me about current day mass cinema is there is no emphasis on the conflict (particularly in Telugu). The villain is some general dodo and the film fully focuses on worshipping the star. Add to this assorted nonsense like an item number inserted in the middle of drama simply because the makers believe that the audience will get bored towards the climax.

Movies like Raees please me on that front. I really liked all of Khan's and Siddiqui's exchanges. Also a bunch of tiny asides like how Majmudar puts the headphones aside when tapping an intimate conversation between Raees and Aasiya.

It's all the more interesting because Raees is an anti-hero. How he was going to deal with his conscience was something I was rather keen on knowing. The climax was rather perfect that way.

But then, as always, we can agree to disagree :)
JayZ on 27th Jan 2017, 4:24pm | Permalink
A mass movie should have a whistle worthy, clap worthy moment.But could you tell me one such in Raees.I watched the movie among SRK fans and they didn't notice any
Swaroop Thotada on 27th Jan 2017, 12:15pm | Permalink
I can't recall any Telugu film that pulled off the hero-villain game as entertainingly after Nag's Mass that came 12 years ago. I enjoyed it immensely when it came. I was 15 then. And if they are willing to make a film like that again, I have no problem turning 15 for another 2 hours. After the "comedy"-revolution Vaitla and team brought, that genre is extinct.
Josh on 27th Jan 2017, 8:47pm | Permalink
That's the reason why I love Kaththi (the Tamil original of K150). Both protagonists, their motives, the villain, the punch scenes, the fights and importantly, the background score. Everything (except perhaps the simplistic solutions to complex issues - but hey, it's just a film!) works like a charm.
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