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Raees movie review: The film belongs more to Nawazuddin than Shah Rukh
The storyline: Raees is set in the early 80s and 90s in Gujarat. The film is the story of Raees Alam, a cruel and clever bootlegger who builds an empire in a state that observes prohibition. The movie traces his rise, his relationships and also his tussle with a cop, ACP Majumdar who poses a threat to his business.

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sunny Leone, Mahira Khan, Atul Kulkarni

Runtime: 2 hours 35 minutes

Genre: Action / Crime / Thriller

Director: Rahul Dholakia

Rating: 3.5/5

Certificate: UA

Review: Beyond all the hype and excitement, Raees comes across as a basic Bollywood potboiler meant specifically for the whistle blowing crowds. The film is in essence a mash-up of a lot of been there, done that moments from Indian cinema of the 70s and 80s.

Albeit the film was specifically written keeping Shah Rukh Khan – the star in mind and intended to restore his supremacy at the box office, which has recently been dwarfed by his arch rival Aamir Khan, it is Nawazuddin as ACP Majumdar who shines the most. His sharp and witty one liners are hard to miss and steal the show.

Shah Rukh plays Raees Alam, a bootlegger with a golden heart, a man who does wrong deeds for good cause. Despite trimmings being introduced to add a touch of freshness (like SRK's kohled eyes and golden rimmed glasses), the film still remains a classic example of old wine in a new bottle (talk about bootlegging). Raees sings, dances, fights and also romances. The man actually deserves credit for sustaining through song, dance and action sequences without a semblance of discomfort at the ripe age of 51.

The film is fast-paced, although half a dozen songs slow the pace somewhat down. Too many characters have been added to the script without any rhyme or reason. Honestly, the film also seems a bit long and could have done with some generous editing. The film opens by showing the childhood of Raees, also shedding light of his humble background. Since childhood, Raees gets miffed if someone calls him `Battery' (a slang for someone wearing spectacles).

Dholakia could have not have found a better support cast with the like of Nawazuddin in the ranks. He has the best lines and portrays the apt rival to Shah Rukh's Raees. It is only Nawaz's ACP Majumdar who compels you to grin, lending the much needed comic relief in the film.

The first half of the movie is well placed with decent amount of entertainment, with Sunny's Laila Main Laila upping the ante. But sadly the film fails to maintain the same intensity and momentum in the second half.

Performances wise, Shah Rukh's Raees and Nawaz's ACP Majumdar emerge as the pivotal characters. SRK brings his usual screen presence to the film and plays a menacing and simmering anti-hero, shades from his earlier performances of the 90s. Interestingly, in a sharp contrast to usual SRK films, where his characters are supreme in comparison to his co-stars, Majumdar is an antithesis – an incorruptible cop who's hell bent upon giving Raees sleepless nights.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about other characters of the movie, especially the leading ladies. While Mahira, who plays the love interest of Raees in the film, is no more than a prop, Sunny Leone's Laila looks out of steam. Mahira's first role in Bollywood is stale and looks no more than a rehash. She is mostly restricted to songs and a few emotional scenes.

The verdict: As far as the script is concerned, Raees has nothing new to offer. We have seen similar stuff a thousand times in innumerable Bollywood films. However, watch it purely for Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who has once again proved his mantle as a seasoned actor. It can be said that the film belongs to him more than it does to Shah Rukh Khan.

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