Raid Movie review – An engrossing fare with terrific performances

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Raid, directed by the Rajkumar Gupta who previously helmed the impressive Aamir and No Killed Jessica, is a real-life adaptation of one of the longest raids that took place in Lucknow during the mid-80’s.  And similar to the directors’ previous films, Raid is an absorbing recount of what happened during the invasion by the tax officers and is suitably peppered by some powerful moments.

Amay Pattnaik ( Ajay Devgn) is a principled Income tax officer with unwavering honesty. The incorruptible officer is committed to the core, and in his 49th transfer in Lucknow, he is tipped from an insider to conduct a  tax raid at Rameshwar Singh aka Tauji ‘s (Saurabh Shukla) mansion.  Tauji, whose nexus with politicians and local goondas makes him a reverent figure, is suspected to hide an undeclared amount of 420 crores. Amay and his coterie of tax officers are entrenched at Tauji’s house to rummage out the black money from its hook and corners.

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A taut thriller with some rousing moments, Raid benefits primarily from the confrontations between the two principal characters. Scenes between Ajay Devgn and Saurabh Shukla are pure gold, and the seasoned actors play to the gallery with some claptrap dialogues. The initial portions of the film builds up the tension nicely and stays mostly on course during the tax invasion scenes within Tauji’s sprawling mansion. The romantic interludes between  Amay and his wife ( Illeana) are weaved in nicely, though it acts as a minor bump with misplaced songs during the Raid procedure.  Same applies to some implausible scenes in the second half and climax of the film as an untimely song stretches the film to touch the finish line. But the makers pull out other strings by mining efficient performances from its colorful supporting cast. In a nice little cameo of Tauji’s ageing, toothless and humorous mother, Pushpa Joshi delivers a crackling act, with some of the best lines reserved for her, and  Illeana D Cruz shines in a minuscule eye-candy role.

Ajay Devgn delineates his role with a   searing sincerity and confidence. Leading the pack with a calm and composed demeanor, Devgn underplays his conscientious character nicely . But the standout performance comes from Saurabh Shukla, who is a class act as Tauji.  Displaying his histrionics with a varied range of emotions, he expresses his ballistic attitude and vulnerabilities with an undeviating balance. You end up feeling bad for him , as he fails to identify the backstabber within his family.

Raid’s release is positively timed, and despite some minor hiccups, is a healthy mix of content and entertainment.  A good thriller in recent times, RAID deserves a watch for its novel content and engaging performances.