Shah Rukh Khan hasn’t had an ideal 2016. Starting fresh with the much anticipated and controversial Raees seems to be not only a hope of redemption for the Baadshah of Bollywood, but also a necessity. Especially when the other two of the ‘Big Three Khans’ Salman and Aamir, have proven their worth with superhits Sultan and Dangal. That being said, the supposed hope for redemption looks nothing more than, well a hope. When the teaser and the famous tagline of Raees were released last year, I had dare hoped for a movie different than the ones Shah Rukh has been doing these past few years. But alas, halfway through the trailer you realize that it just another romantic movie with bits and pieces from various genres stacked upon each other, with Once upon a time in Mumbai style one liners as cherry on top of the cake.
The trailer starts with a brief introduction of the plot of the movie. It introduces the character of Raees (Shah Rukh Khan) as a calculating businessman of his era. As a person he seems to have a determined goal in his mind, with a ruthless and violent streak for anyone or anything that comes in his way. The first part also gives a hint of the trade that Raees probably will be involved in, which is illegal smuggling of alcohol in or out of Gujarat. Not surprisingly an authority figure (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who’s either a police or IAS officer enters, seeming hell bent on stopping Raees. Strikingly similar to Once Upon a time in Mumbai till now. The first part builds up for the transition leading up to the mid part which mainly consists of a love story angle between Shah Rukh and Mahira, which has clearly become essential in every Bollywood movie nowadays. It has been one of the prime crowd pleasers, alongwith some out-of-the-world action. Fortunately for the producers, Raees seems to have both of them in plenty. The difficult love story of a Don side-tracks the main plot for some time (possibly in the movie too), until the main plot is again looked at. But now it is with a reduced focus on Raees’ calculations and masterplans, and more on the action that he resorts to, in order to reach the top. This quite possibly will end with a cliché confrontation of Raees with the authority character of Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who’s always a little crack and relentless when it comes to catching the protagonist cum antagonist, almost as if its personal. I won’t be surprised if Nawazuddin either lets Shah Rukh go scot free in the end, or kills him in cold blood supposedly changing his own ways. In short, the climax will probably consist of a stark deviance from normal character flow (to entice and surprise the audience), for either Shah Rukh or Nawazuddin. There’s also a small chance that it might contain a reverse twist, where the character of Mahira Khan kills Raees.
After Fan you’d expect Shah Rukh to be treading on thin ice, and that’s exactly what he seems to be doing with Raees. The release of the movie has been getting postponed for a while now, first to avoid a clash with Sultan and now with Dangal. These, of course, have proven to be quite intelligent decisions, looking at the tremendous response both these movies have gotten from the audience and hence Box-Office. But what it also shows is trepidation and lack of trust on the part of producers of Raees in their own movie, alongwith a supposed decline in the sheer star power of King Khan. Producers seem no longer confident in the power of the brand ‘Shah Rukh Khan’, and its ability to gather a crowd regardless of what the movie is about. This phenomenon had obviously started with the close shave of Dilwale with Bajirao Mastani, and proven by the bad beat suffered by Fan. Adding to all these factors are the supposed negative influences of demonetization that are still in the equation. But with Dangal proving that (atleast) demonetization can be overcome, it would be interesting to see if 2017 turns out to be a little different for the King of Bollywood.
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