POPCORN ENTERTAINMENT RATING – 3.5/5
Its often difficult for filmmakers to keep a even balance between a good story and its relevant treatment. Raaes, directed by Rahul Dholakia and starring Shahrukh in the lead role, gets the balance right for most of the part, as he constructs a engrossing tale chronicling the rise of a small time bootlegger to a scandalous liquor baron of Gujarat. Its heartening to see Shahrukh , (who is also the co producer of the film)stepping out of his comfort zone and churning out a fascinating drama which moves at a breathneck speed in the first half, but loses a bit of steam post intermission due to irrelevant sub plots . Yet, there is lot to appreciate in this film.
Set in the 70’s , the film unfolds in a small city of Fatehpura in Gujarat, where we are introduced to a poor and diligent boy Raaes, who through his sharp and temperamental mind , wins the heart of a local bootlegger and starts working for him. Possessing an ambition to scale up, he branches out to start his own business. He rises to to the top to emerge a liquor baron and a revered figure, with his baniye ka dimaag and lots of daring and in the process, he faces obstacles and ultimately his nemesis in the form of ACP Majumdar ( a terrific Nawazuddin)
The first half is riveting stuff, as we see Raees extrapolating his business ruthlessly. He aces all the right moves to emerge as a menacing and revered figure in the illegal liquor trade industry. But post intermission , the film slackens and loses focus. Predictability steeps in shape of venal and corrupt politicians and how they use the same trade and tricks to stop the juggernaut of Raaes, who becomes the messiah of the poor people . But its the fascinating duel between ACP Majmudar and Raees that keep you hooked to the proceedings till the end. The soundtrack of the film is another high point of the film, which keep the story well oiled throughout.
Nawazuddin Sidiqqui, playing the indomitable cop with a dogged determination to pin down Raees is absolutely outstanding . The witty repartees and the constant contest between the two are the high points of the film. Mahira Khan, playing the love interest of Raees exudes confidence and is charming in a role which actually, could have been done without her. The usually dependable Zeeshan Ayub delivers a committed performance as the sidekick of Raees.
But Raees, expectedly, belongs to Shah Rukh, who brings in all his swagger and style and mixes it with the right notes to deliver one of his finest performances till date . Playing the antagonist with grey shades and a heart of gold, Shahrukh is in command right from the first scene till the end. Menacing as the ruthless gangster and holding is own in poignant moments, he pitches in a finely nuanced portrayal completely devoid of his usual mannerisms.
Raees is flawed, yes, but its worth it for its sheer entertainment value.Watch it for Shahrukh and Nawaz as they deliver ample bang for your buck.