Movie Review: Devgn’s Raid is well made, a story that had to be said

My list of Ajay Devgn’s best ten movies has a trend – all single word named action thrillers. Company, Gangajal, Singham, Zakhm, Omkara, Drishyam, Khakee, Aakrosh, Apaharan & Takshak. All gripping, serious, edge of the seat movies – his forte, his unchallenged core competency. While Raid doesn’t possess the quality to make to this esteemed list, it still falls in the same genre of Devgn’s sensible and watchable movies.

Finding Patnaik as a Bollywood movie character surname is a big rarity. Last I recall, Akshay Kumar carried that surname in Aan. This though wasn’t the reason to watch Raid this weekend – Devgn back to his ‘zone’ did it for me. Also that stories like Raid often justify PM Modi’s recent past demonetization drive. Audience even in a Singapore hall enjoyed every time black money poured out of pillars and gold bars fell from the ceiling. There are points during the movie when you wonder (forget one man owning it) can so much money even exist together?

Director Raj Kumar Gupta, despite a stunning debut with the Rajeev Khandelwal starrer Aamir, ten years ago, hasn’t quite been able to sustain that mojo. His movies are decent but way short of levels they originally promised in trailers – No One Killed Jessica, Ghanchakkar and now Raid. The 60-90 min plot is stretched to 128 mins with masala added in form of romance, songs. wife carrying tiffin box to an income tax raid and ex-PM Indira Gandhi look alike trying to protect a (supposedly) Congress MLA from getting exposed!

That Raid frequently reminds you of the gold standard in this genre – Neeraj Pandey’s Special 26 – also contributes to it falling below expectations. Although the time period is 1980s, the movie shows little of it aside the HMT watch and a government servant stand steely on his principles. Hence Raid relies heavily on it’s support cast to keep the viewer engaged.

Recently I heard Manav Kaul say (in an interview with Rajeev Masand) that Saurabh Shukla only takes roles where his character has significant presence and importance to the plot. He refuses to do bit-part roles. That has been his policy since the Ram Gopal Varma epic Satya days, around two decades ago; and you can see why. He adds character to the most mundane of dialogues and leaves a lasting impression. Ditto Amit Sial as assistant to Devgn. Ditto star of the house Amma Ji – played by Pushpa Joshi. These three characters keep you invested in the movie more during the 48hr raid duration. Yes it needed more than two days of digging to extract out all the wealth one person had illegally amassed. Back in the 1980s.

Rating: 3.25/5 (One time good watch for Devgn and for a story that had to be told)

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