Gangster films are a great thing, or rather they can be. At the least we expect them to give us a sneak peak into a world that we will never see. At their best they show us the mind of a criminal. It’s pretty easy to take a step further, and try to justify crime and evil, and that’s where many average attempts go. Raees, well, it’s even worse.
Raees is based on a real life villain. A gangster who had a mutually beneficial relationship with the ruling party of 80s and kept Ahmedabad in line for them using violence and fear.
(Ever wondered why there were so many riots in Gujarat in 80s but no CM was ever blamed?) He was much worse than even that, though. Not just a regular brutal gangster; not just your routine thug politician; he was an enemy of the nation who brought RDX into the country and was responsible for terror attacks in cahoots with Dawood.
Superstar SRK, the producer, and the driving force behind Raees, is not interested in that story though. Nor is the director Dholakia who made “hard hitting” films on Gujarat riots. Rashid Lateef is an out and out hero here. This is a film about a secular businessman philanthropist who is immensely popular and never hurts anyone who doesn’t hurt him first. Good God.
Okay, so its not distorting and biased, but what about the quality of the movie itself? This is supposed to be about a guy with both brains and “daring”, and it’d be okay if it delivered even on that promise. So help me figure this out, how is a politician campaigning to keep alcohol illegal bad for a guy whose business depends on alcohol being illegal? The gangster should be happy, right? But he starts a riot to stop that campaign. Why? And whats so daring about throwing petrol bombs in a crowd with hundreds of your goons backing you up?
You learn not to ask logical questions in Raees. Logic is unimportant in a film intended to please front-benchers. Like in the 80s, see? This is a film stuck in the ethos of 80’s when the top stars wanted to play the rebel and the Robin Hood and to hell with quality and nuance. Only there are no cheap front seats anymore. One of the highlights is that the guy who attacked a non violent crowd for his selfish reasons feeling remorse for bringing in RD “unknowingly”.
Great films like Agneepath (original) & Gangs Of Wasseypur show the unheroic nature of its heroes. They are fallible, fumbling, bumbling guys who fail more than they succeed. In Raees a real life villain is recast as a hero and glorified to the hilt. Logic and quality are as much the victims as history. This is a disservice to film making and to the victims of the once dreaded gangster Abdul Latif.
Oh, and by the way, Nawaz, the policeman who wants to put a smuggler in jail is almost a villain.
His name is Khan and he did glorify a terrorist.