HEADLINES:
July 18 2018
‘Raid’ review: Raider of a lost ark
17 March 2018

The recreation of the supposedly longest ever income tax raid could have been far more tight, taut and thrilling than it turns out to be

Raid would score well on novelty. It is indeed quite original to fashion a two hour-long film on the supposedly longest ever income tax raid, which, from what I hear from my retired IT officer uncle, is anyhow a boring and back-breaking exercise. Cinematically it offers many challenges: confined, single space, defined set of people and not much movement and action. Despite these odds, director Raj Kumar Gupta and his writer Ritesh Shah do manage to hold the audience interest but only intermittently so.

The tale of an honest officer Amay Patnaik, (Ajay Devgn) leading an IT team to unearth the black money stashed away in the “White House” of the evil, corrupt politician Tauji (Saurabh Shukla), Raid could have been much more tight, taut and thrilling than it turns out to be.

Part of the problem are the distractions on the side; Amay’s romance and the portrayal of his domestic life with wife Malini (Ileana D’Cruz), for instance, offer little other than obstructing the narrative flow with needless songs. And, of course, giving a token acknowledgement to the “brave” wives of the IT officers. The track is rendered all the more colourless by an ill at ease, simpering and righteous Ileana.

  • Director: Raj Kumar Gupta
  • Starring: Ajay Devgn, Saurabh Shukla, Ileana D’Cruz, Sheeba Chaddha, Pushpa Joshi
  • Run time: 128.03 minutes
  • Storyline: Ostensibly inspired from actual income tax raids in the 80s, the film is about an honest IT officer holding the huge mansion of a corrupt politician under siege to unearth the hidden black money

Devgn does the same old hooded eyes-dour face-faux intense turn yet again, with nothing new to offer other than some newly grey hair and cracked heels peeping from the sandals (yes watch out for his intro scene). His chemistry, thanks to some dramatic confrontations, is much better with his bête noire Shukla who almost walks away with the film were it not for the character of his mother. Hugely reminiscent of Farrukh Jaffer’s Amma in Peepli Live the role brings in the unwitting eccentric comic touch. In fact, I was left wishing Jaffer would have played this one as well.

Then there’s an actress of Sheeba Chaddha’s calibre who gets a short shrift in a forgettable role. But she is immensely watchable as always even when she is not doing anything in front of the camera. The look and demeanour of her character appear to hide many secrets and lies which the director-writer duo prefers not to explore.

The harping on the exact figure of Rs 420 crore black money gets too convenient as does the familiar talk of holding the rich income tax defaulters responsible for the country’s poverty and harping on the fact that only the salaried middle class pays taxes in India. In spite of these right noises things still don’t turn out rousing enough on screen. A messy climax and clumsy reveal further seal the deal.

We are the stories we decide to tell. In keeping with the spirit of the times, when we are tracing all the problems in our polity, economy, society back to the past, Gupta chooses to make a film on corruption in the 80s when Indira Gandhi was in power. Fair enough. Why not? Only I would want to know which Bollywood Braveheart will dare train the camera on corporate crimes and corruption as they are unravelling in 2018.

 

 

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