A thrilling Raid

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 17 Mar 2018 10:43:11



By Farina Salim Quraishi

With mediocrity being the benchmark, only a few Bollywood fares manage to up the notch. After umpteen promises of ‘different movies’ proving different only in the name, director Raj Kumar Gupta’s promise of gold, with his old tale of Raid, didn’t really cut much ice. But old is certainly gold this time round, with a charm that’s easily eternal. Based on real events, the truth is indeed stranger than fiction in the gripping drama that stands tall on stellar performances and a solid script.

Starting in the September of 1981, Raid starts off, not literally yet, at the crack of dawn; chronicling the life and journey of Income Tax Department chief Amay Patnaik (Ajay Devgn). Amay, who has been transferred a staggering 49 times in 7 years, is an upright officer, with no room for allowances or compromises. As he settles in Lucknow, Amay is tipped off about the reigning Baahubali of Lucknow, Tauji’s aka Rameshwar ‘Rajaji’ Singh (Saurabh Shukla) and his black money. The undeclared assets worth crores are supposedly stashed in his sprawling mansion White House. Amay snoops around quietly and finds some discrepancies, but no concrete proof of loot. With heavy odds against him, not to mention the system itself, Amay decides to go ahead with the raid, compromising not only his personal safety but also that of his office.

Without giving much of the nail-biting thriller away it safe to say that Raid then on traces the far-reaching repercussions of the historic raid, with power centres, as mighty as even those in New Delhi, being rattled by its after-shocks.With top-class thrillers Aamir and No One Killed Jessica under his belt, Raj Kumar Gupta is back in the business to thrill with Raid. The credibly weaved yarn is a riveting watch that is engaging to the very end. The built up is slow, but the film soon gains moment when the action shifts to the ‘palace’ of Rajaji. Though most of the answers are obvious in the 128-minute saga, it is the unexpected twist and turns that make Raid interesting. The script is mostly watertight with a thread of realism woven in strongly. Attention has been paid to small and major details in the period saga. Right from the wristwatch, to morning newspaper, to electrical switches right down to the small insignificant pen, all set pieces hold up to the
scrutiny of time.

The verbal sparring between Shukla and Devgn is also something to watch out for. The showdowns powered by Ritesh Shah’s dialogues are whistle worthy. Though reminiscent of the heavy dialogue-baazi of the 70s-80s, the crisp lines, for the most part, are drawled out sans any drama, making them surprisingly more effective.The movie sticks to its chartered path, barring two pointlessly inserted songs. The romantic tracks, which needlessly reinforce the marital bond, only end up breaking the tension built up by the taut narrative.

Ajay Devgn is Mr Brooder again in Raid to a brilliant effect. His glowering eyes do most of the talking and when the National Award winning actor does speak out, the words are pure steel. The wonderfully written lines get further elevated as Devgn delivers them with a deadly quietness. But Devgn’s brooding presence is something which we all have seen many a times. Also, Raid tries a bit too hard to make Amay the righteous hero, afraid of nothing, including death! In contrast, Saurabh Shukla as the pot-bellied politician has a wider emotive arch and steals the show as Tauji. Playing the corrupt politician, obsessed with his self-importance, Shukla brings the entire rainbow of emotions, staying clear of the cliches all the way. You feel his power as he arm-twists the high and mighty, even his pain is palpable as he discovers his family’s treachery and one can’t help but admire his defiance when he loses everything.

Ileana D'Cruz is all but an ornamental piece in the film. Playing the gutsy wife, D’Cruz does her best to make an impact. But given her two-line role, there isn’t much the talented actress can do! Other players in Raid have been short-charged as well. Amit Sial as the duplicitous officer, Sheeba Chadha as the outspoken bahu, or even Saanand Verma as the cowardly brother, all have minor, underwhelming roles. However, the most surprising actor of Raid is octogenarian Pushpa Joshi. The 80-year-old actress playing the toothless yet brusque mother to Rajaji is a darling and a delight on screen.Raid with its limited plot and depth might not make it to the class of super-thrillers, alright. But given that it’s engrossing and entertaining it can easily be your best bet this weekend.

The Hitavada Rating:
O O 1/2