Little Raees may be myopic in the classroom, but he certainly can see opportunity when the local alcohol smuggler Jayraj (Atul Kulkarni) looks for delivery boys. Under the nose of the cops, Raees (Shah Rukh Khan) and his best friend Sadiq (the ever competent Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) smuggle alcohol, and become his confirmed employees! The enmity begins when Raees and Sadiq grow up and want to get into the same business on their own. Not only does he become king, but rules the hearts of the people...
That Shah Rukh is hot even when he's self-flagellating at the Ashura during Moharram is something you do not wish to admit. You seek the dimpled charmer you have seen in his romantic movies. But the beard cannot hide the charm and you fall in love with the badshah of romance again as he attempts to get the ball from his girl (Mahira Khan, in a role that she just does not fit in. She's intimidated by the Khan and her acting skills are zilch, alas!).
But thankfully, it's not the romance that makes the movie. It's the action. Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays a cop Jaideep Ambalal Majmudar who is posted in Fatehpur and becomes a pain to deal with. He's upright and unbreakable. The writers of the film give him the best lines and comebacks. He makes you smile just as much as Raees' wicked ways to outsmart the ploys the cops use to stop alcohol smuggling. If you knew alcohol can be injected in tomatoes, you'd wonder how thirsty the public is for getting drunk!
Of course there is ambition and politics and guns, and even though Raees wants to just do 'dhanda' without hurting people, there is a little flashback of Raj Kapoor's Shri 420 in the dream city he wishes to build. And there is betrayal too. But does Raees manage to wiggle out of that as well? It's a great 70's style story where the baddie with a heart of gold outsmarts an upright cop.
Shah Rukh and Nawazuddin Siddiqui are simply fun. But at 143 minutes sometimes the cat and mouse game becomes tiresome. And the lackluster music does not help despite the words that insist 'Raees is single piece' (one of a kind). Despite all this Shah Rukh pulls off an action hero role that clearly encroaches on Salman territory and manages to keep it convincing. In fact, the violence in the fight sequences make you squirm. And the anger in Shah Rukh's surma-lined eyes feels straight out of Amitabh Bachchan revenge dramas like Kala Patthar (watch out for the scene from the film beautifully juxtaposed!). Watch it because the recent spate of silly romances have not touched you at all. The bad-guy-with-a-golden-heart Shah Rukh fills that space, and really well.
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