Set to the backdrop of prohibition in Gujarat, India, Shah Rukh Khan plays Raees a bootlegger whose business is challenged by a tough cop. Raees is a story about his rise to becoming the single most powerful man in the state. Read my review…
Gujarat (my home) is one of the very few states in India that still follows prohibition and has been a dry state for nearly 6 decades. The result of which is bootlegging. Raees is the story of a tenacious and clever bootlegger who rose to power during the 80s and 90s. Though the studios and the creators claim that this is a work of fiction, many believe that this movie is based on the life of Abdul Latif. Here is the trailer…
Raees is a very, very good movie. Rahul Dholakia, the director, did a great job at telling this story in an entertaining manner. His direction, for the most part, kept the movie engaging with the help of great cinematography, a variety of music and vibrant colours – all of which have become staples of big budget Indian cinema. One of the things I didn’t like was the use of shaky cam during most of the action set pieces; this makes for a very unimaginative form of storytelling and makes me quite angry while watching.
The brief moments of romance between Raees and Mahira Khan’s Aasiya lends a level of humanity to a character that is otherwise just a downright gangster. This way of storytelling is something I appreciate but after a while, these moments stopped serving their purpose and simply dragged the movie.
The performances, overall, were quite good. Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) is great when he plays serious roles (instead of some of the cartoonish characters from his past) and he is no different as Raees. The kid who plays young Raees is also very good. But the standout for me is Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Majmudar, the cop chasing down Raees. Siddiqui is one of India’s finest and I will watch anything he is in; always gives his all. Mahira Khan as Aasiya didn’t impress me; however, all her scenes were shared with SRK and she pales in comparison.
Overall, Raees is a very enjoyable movie with a couple of great performances told in an engaging manner for the most part. A couple of direction choices and plot beats dragged the movie down a little for me and we could certainly have done with 1 or 2 fewer songs.
My Score: 3.5/5 – A definite recommendation.