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‘Raid’ film review: Ajay Devgn drama a timid affair

The film, directed by Raj Kumar Gupta, wavers when it tries to marry two disparate genres

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There’s an angry mob thirsting to lynch the scrupulous income tax official played by Ajay Devgn for doing his job; but instead of communicating the imminent virulent danger, we have this inscrutable hero reminiscing about his fetching wife (Illeana D’Cruz) with a soppy song playing in the background about values and valour. Were they kidding us?

This was one of the many instances in which the 1980’s-set Raid — a crime thriller that chronicled the painstaking raid spearheaded by the incorruptible Amay Patnaik (Devgn) — exasperated us with its tendency to deviate from its suspenseful narrative.

Directed by Raj Kumar Gupta, the film was inspired from a true life event about how a single-minded determination of an IT officer resulted in the felling of a powerful, well-connected politician in Lucknow.

But there were two disparate movies being played out here in Raid. On one hand, Raj Kumar Gupta was intent on resurrecting the painstaking and arduous raid to the last shady detail, and on the other he was intent on showcasing the syrupy relationship between a deadpan Devgn and his lovely wife who feared for her husband’s safety. It wasn’t a holy union and the genre-blending effort to unite two subplots wasn’t seamless.

But to be fair, it wasn’t the on-screen couple’s fault. D’Cruz as the winsome Nita Patnaik was the epitome of a dutiful wife (the kind of woman who carts an elaborate tiffin for her weary husband and his team to his workplace and are now mythical in today’s times) and the two enjoyed an effortless chemistry. But this romantic strain was such a misfit in a thriller that would have benefited from tighter editing and sticking to its route of being an edgy crime drama.

As soon as some sense of urgency had build up among a team of plain-clothes government officials trying to find the hidden black money in a mansion, ironically called the White House of Lucknow, a song was inserted fracturing the pace.

Devgn as the stoic Amay Patnaik is also a fan of playing verbal duels with the enemy, played menacingly by Shukla who is in top form. But their repartee seemed forced as they exchanged their views on moral code of conduct and honour among criminals.

While it was exciting initially to see the inner-workings of how a surprise income tax raid plays out and how debilitating it can get for a money launderer masquerading as businessmen, it loses its sheen soon. How many gold biscuits can you watch being unearthed languidly? Plus, how long can you watch a bunch of civilian-clothed officials rip open a mattress or a pillar in the hope of finding the stash of ill-gotten wealth? Based on a tip-off from an unnamed source that was revealed at the end of the film, Patnaik made it his business to plunder the mansion and annihilate the local politician’s empire built on fraud and thieving from the common man.

Devgn was dangerously dead-panned and nonplussed even in the most explosive confrontations. Perhaps that’s his signature style of acting that worked in many of his works in the past, but it looked repetitive here. His brand of vigilantism and activism looked forced.

Watch this only if you want to cough up your hard-earned white money for a messed up crime drama that lacks tooth.

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Check it out!

Film: Raid

Director: Raj Kumar Gupta

Cast: Ajay Devgn, Illeana D’Cruz and Saurabh Shukla

Rating: PG15

Stars: 2.5 out of 5

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