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Raid Movie Review: It Is A Powerful Film On Combating Corruption

Subhash K . Jha

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Raid Movie Review

Film: Raid

Starring: Ajay Devgan, Saurabh Shukla

Directed by:  Raj Kumar Gupta

Rating: ****(4 stars)

Just when  you think the Bollywood  thriller is running out of steam there comes Raid,a  film so taut and clenched, so caustic and brimming with  political sarcasm that  you wonder… where was  director Raj Kumar Gupta hiding  himself for so many years?

So yes he made Ghanchakkar…We all make mistakes, okay? Not that I  minded Gupta’s unexpected swing into zany comedy. But  smartly spun  tautly narrated  political thrillers are his forte.Aamir and  None One Killed Jessica had  proved  it. Raid proves it again.

So welcome back, Mr Gupta. Here’s your deal. An honest-to-goodness income tax officer, played with incorruptible smoothness by Ajay Devgn, who gives away  nothing (atleast, nothing  that we can see on  his face) is pitched against  a burly swarmy corrupt seedy politician  in  the hotbed of Lucknow’s politics.

What happens when  Amay Patnaik(Devgn) takes  on Rameshwar Singh(Sourabh Shukla) on the latter’s home turf?Strongly  imbued  in the spirit of social reform, the Idealistic Bureaucrat as revisited  in this  film, is a  bit of an anomaly.Devgn’s Amay fights that very System which has created him. Idealistic heroes tend to come across as  singleminded  implacable  determined  bullies.Devgan  is  all of this,. It is remarkable  how  willingly he lets Saurabh Shuklachew  up every scene in  which  they’re together.

Editor Bodhaditya Banerjee slices  across the  large canvas of characters  to capture people in their most anxious moments. It’s a narrative of tremendous tension and nervous anxieties  but never surrendering to a frenzied cutting- away of the material to play on  the urgency  of  the moment.

It’s  done in the spirit of a  pre-determined moral  battle, a  raider’s Ramayan so to speak, that the plot so doggedly takes on in the pursuit  of  a  Good versus Bad morality tale where  the winner  often appears  to be  a loser because he is so one-note in his determined  idealism.

Saurabh  Shukla has all the  fun. And Devgan  lets him. It is this spirit of passive resistance that the narrative  so  virilely  assumes  that makes Raid a riveting watch. The more Devgan’s goodness shines down on the plot, the more Shukla’s decadent corruption showers its  reeking beneficence  down on the  plot that ironically gets  its sustenance not from Devgan’s Rama-like heroism  but Shukla’s Ravan-esqe rhetorics.

While Devgan and his raiders of the lost assets pool their talents to create a moribund army of  wealth retrievers, the film’s  fuel –surcharge  comes  from the heated exchanges between  the bureaucratic hero and  the political renegade. The two actors  play against one other with brilliant brio.

 The  supporting cast  is largely credible and sometimes remarkably engaging(Shukla’s antiquated   yet alert mother is  a howl and ).  But Ileana D’Cruz brought in  for the sake  of  romantic glamour sticks  out like a  sore thumb with her  patently Lukhnowi chikhan-attired  performance. Not her fault, though. What can she do when the plot is almost uniformly  focused  on its frenetic fight against wealth stealth with loads of  savage humour and unexpected  pauses to consider what makes corruption such a thriving industry  in  our country.

 By the time the raid on Rajaji’s ill-gotten wealth is over, the  director has made a darkly humorous telling point on what  it takes to call a dishonest politician  dishonest.

Your  job, perhaps. But hell, someone has to do the dirty job before another Jessica  is killed randomly by a wealthy wayward reveler in a bar. Don’t missRaid . One of its many pleasures  is to watch  the two principal actors in  full control  of  their characters, even as the  director  guiding their exchanges , stands  back to let the  plot grow hot without burning itself  out.

It takes  a  lot  of  will-power to  stand back and let the corrupt steal the thunder from the incorruptible. Raid tells us virtuosity may be  boring.  But  it is still a rare bird worth  capturing  in the palm of your hand.

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