Inspired from the real-life story of gangster Abdul Latif, Raees chronicles the rise of a small-time bootlegger who goes on to monopolise the illicit liquor business in Gujarat. It’s a well-written and acted crime thriller that marries conventional and contemporary styles of storytelling, pitting a larger-than-life persona, a Gujarati crimelord Raees (Shahrukh Khan) against an adamant, honest cop ACP Jaideep Ambalal Majumdar (Nawazuddin Siddiqui).
The film plays out as a commercial entertainer that relies on the star power of its lead, backed by an equally engaging narrative. The screenplay is briskly paced, with abundant action packed throughout. The dialogue-heavy scenes, punchy one liners and the song-and-dance sequences are reminiscent of the ’70s (though the latter never break the narrative pace).
My only grouse was that the film felt uni-dimensional. It could have explored so many more themes/sub-plots. For a cop-criminal chase plot, the film could have had more bite, particularly in the first half. But the second half made up for it.
Zeeshan Ayub as Raees‘ friend and right-hand man proves worthy of the part, turning in a solid performance. Mahira Khan as Raees‘ wife leaves an impact with whatever little she gets to do.
It’s a delight to watch Shahrukh and Nawaz in one frame. I was sold from the trailer. Nawazuddin breezes through every role with subdued, effortless ease.
In his finest performance ever, Shah Rukh Khan brings both brazenness and restraint, lending his character depth and richness. From the demeanour and the look to the gait, from the dialogue delivery to the pauses, he owns the part. It’s hard to imagine anyone outdo him. It wouldn’t be unfair to say Shahrukh makes Raees punch above its weight.