This article was last updated on June 18, 2022
Hooch hooch hota hai? In his big new release Raaes Shah Rukh Khan as the bootleg seller in Gujarat gets the boot on the other leg. This is his chance to show us—yet again—that he can play someone other than Rahul /Rohit. It’s a very flashy kind of presentation with pompous preening dialogues and broad bristling drama designed to make the characters look like relics of the past roaming dangerously in the present, as Shah Rukh Khan defiantly declares his dhanda to be his religion.
There is a lot of religious symbolism in the backdrop, signifying that for all his nefarious activities, Shah Rukh’s Raees Khan is a deeply religious man.
Ameen to that.
The similarities to Haji Mastan are unmissable, as is the attempt to pin the criminal protagonist down and declare him a criminal. The cop who is determined to get Raees is played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui whom we see trying to tone down his habitual exuberance by a few notches in front of the great King Khan’s cyclonic presence.
Shah Rukh Khan as antagonist Raees and Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the protagonist Mazumdar? This is too deliciously subverted to let go. Just how director Rahul Dholakia manages to keep the rage-old conflict between good and evil from toppling over under the weight of Shah Rukh’s superstardom would be the point of interest in this otherwise tale as stale as the smell of over-seasoned hooch.
The trailer of Rahul Dholakia’s Raees turns the tables on the hero-villain equation. But that is nothing new, really. The novelty here would have to be generated from the execution rather than the plot.
For now Raees relies completely on recall value to get us interested in the film. The main conflict between the hooch-selling anti-hero and the cop replicates Amitabh Bcahchan’s bad-boy act from many films. Then there is the music from Kalyanji –Anandji’s Qurbani. The main riff from ‘Laila O Laila’ runs through the last lap of the trailer like a wheezing long-distance runner desperate to make up for lost time.
And that one close up of Sunny Leone towards the end of the trailer is far more seductive than all of Mahira Khan’s dancing singing pouting and winking that we see in the trailer. Shah Rukh displays zero chemistry with Mahira. Even when she winks and calls him ‘Battery’ she sounds like a motorcar mechanic trying to extract money from a reluctant motorist.
If the truth be told, there is more crackling and hissing when Shah Rukh and Nawazuddin abuse each other. It’s sad to see so much sound and fury wasted over what looks like a very pale bit of casting for the female lead in a film suffused with bold strokes in all the performances. Raees looks like a retro-drama pumped up with Shah Rukh Khan’s questionably chauvinistic dialogue-baazi. For too long he has played the metro-sexual dude. It’s time now to strip away the cosmopolitan image and play a smirking bigot who sells illicit liquor and thinks God is on his side because…well, he’s a god himself.
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