Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

June 9, 2017


Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 9:30 pm

June 09, 2017

Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Kriti Sanon, Jim Sarbh, Varun Sharma, Rajkummar Rao

Director: Dinesh Vijan

Raabta, starring Sushant Singh Rajput and Kriti Sanon, is one part lighthearted rom-com, one part deathly serious reincarnation saga, and all parts ridiculous.

This is a movie so singularly pointless, you have to wonder how the writers and the director tricked the financiers into thinking there was a story here worth telling, and why the actors preferred going to shoot every morning instead of sleeping longer hours.

The premise is fairly basic: unfinished business in a previous life reconnects three people in the modern day. That’s it. There’s no deeper layer, it has nothing profound to say. Oddly, it’s not even as emotionally charged as films of this genre tend to be. The whole theme of rebirth is so superficially and simplistically justified, it makes Karan Arjun feel like Inception in comparison.

The film, directed by Dinesh Vijan, opens in Budapest where Sushant’s character Shiv, a self-described ‘player’, makes the moves on anything and everything in a skirt until he encounters Saira (Kriti), with whom there is an instant and lasting connection.

Sushant is basically playing the Saif Ali Khan role in every Yash Raj/Dharma film from the early 2000s, except that Sushant is never as smooth, and his Shiv comes off as a tad creepy instead of charming. Kriti’s character Saira runs a chocolate shop, and she is plagued by nightmares of drowning from, as it turns out, her past life. The other thing she brings with her from that previous life is her tendency to switch boyfriends faster than Taylor Swift.

There’s also Jim Sarbh, who was so good as the hotheaded leader of the hijackers in Neerja last year. Here he’s cast as Zakir, a millionaire businessman whom Saira is briefly drawn to. Jim plays Zakir with just enough mystery and a hint of eccentricity, until the last act when he goes full psychopathic villain on the lovers.

I’d rather not tell you too much about these characters and the dynamics of their relationship in their previous incarnation, but you’ve probably seen the trailers and you know that they’re styled like tribal-warriors with really cool hairstyles. My heart bled for poor Rajkummar Rao, who is buried under layers and layers of prosthetics to play a disfigured old man in this portion of the film. My only question to him: Why?

Sushant and Kriti have good chemistry together and some of their early scenes are fun. But they’re not playing particularly likeable characters so it’s hard to care for what happens to these people beyond a point. It’s a shame because Sushant has proved himself to be a really competent actor. Although, to be honest, even Denzel Washington couldn’t save this film.

The only thing I can unconditionally recommend in Raabta is its music. There’s a bunch of really good songs shot across Budapest that are a welcome respite from the asinine drama.

This is the kind of movie that film critics must endure so you don’t have to. I’m going with one out of five.

(This review first aired on CNN News18)

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