Raabta Review

"Raabta," starring Sushant Singh Rajput and Kriti Sanon, has been shot in Budapest, Mauritius and Amritsar. (photo provided)

Maddock Films and T-Series present “Raabta”

Produced by: Dinesh Vijan, Homi Adajania, Bhushan Kumar & Krishen Kumar

Directed by: Dinesh Vijan

Written by: Siddharth-Garima

Music: S.D. Burman, JAM 8, Sohrabuddin, Sourov Roy & Pritam

Starring: Sushant Singh Rajput, Kriti Sanon, Jim Sarbh, Varun Sharma, Rajkummar Rao Sp.app: Deepika Padukone

Nowadays, we are increasingly getting into new terrain: of showing two completely different movies within one film! Though this has always been there off and on in cinema, the frequency and intensity in the differences between the two halves of a film seem to be alarmingly on the rise.

“Raabta” is the latest in this chain: the first half is relatable, modern in concept, and not a ‘Hindi’ Hindi film at all in the traditional sense. It is about Shiv (Sushant Singh Rajput) and Saira (Kriti Sanon), meeting in Budapest where she lives alone, making chocolates, and the former is a Punjab da puttar come there for a job as a banker.

The “Raabta” (a natural and sometimes inexplicable rapport) between them, complete with jumping into bed just on day two of acquaintance, may be a shade unacceptable to our audiences but is depicted convincingly, this time explained by their resonance being due to a connect from their first birth.

The banter and what happens between the coosome-twosome never gets cheap or sleazy, but always remains endearing and often loaded with several unexpectedly intense interplays. Though by conventional logic, such things may come off as absurd, the base of a past connection (with a recurring nightmare to match for Saira) gives it a believable tweak.

Saira’s first encounter with Zak aka Zakir (Jim Sarbh), a liquor tycoon, is amusing. Even more so is the sequence where Shiv makes Saira dump her earlier boyfriend in a funny restaurant sequence, except for the illogic of a local babe sitting as a silent spectator and leaving conveniently when the right time comes!

But when Shiv leaves for a week’s assignment, things change, and Zak manages to take her away to his secluded island (!) and explain, through a series of paintings, what they were in their past births. Casually, he tells an acolyte (all dressed in black suits like the villain’s henchmen of yore!) to “Kill him!” (Shiv). Intermission flashes —and a good romantic film ends!

The second half, including the explanation of the past birth, is downright weird in its aspiration and inspiration. The lovers are Saira’s and Zak’s earlier incarnations, while the villain, who suddenly turns hero, is Shiv’s earlier avatar!

The costumes and getups are nondescript, a mix of many Hollywood films, and the region unknown. Based on the saga of a comet that hits the world after 800 years, we are made to believe that the trio was reborn that many years later! Now, what were their souls doing in-between?

As the absurdities pile up, we have Zak asking Saira whether she does not want an explanation of her dreams or not (she had never told him about them!), their engagement announced in a local publication and Shiv thus turning up there to reclaim Saira.

But Saira has just traded his (continued) life for marriage to Zak (a la vintage Hindi film heroines!) since Zak had killed him in the past birth as well. And why was that, when the two had been lovers then? Simple goes (director) Vijan’s vision: she, as a warrior princess, had then traded the safety of her people and land, by agreeing to be the latest conquest of the invader (named Jilaan or something like that!) and sacrificed Zak’s love!

As per OUR vision then, Saira is an expert trader in both births—of lovers, boyfriends, and chocolates!

Pritam is nowhere at his best, but surrenders some inferior stuff to the name of JAM 8, his protégés, as he will not accept credit for a multi-composer film. But the songs are downright disappointing, in keeping with the level of the film, but for “Ik Vaari Aa” recalled only for a catchy hook. S.D. Burman’s “Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi Si” (from “Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi” made almost 60 years ago!) is mutilated, but remains, by force of its original caliber, the only memorable song in the film.

The one aspect that gives this film an international and rich feel (the camerawork is too dark, the VFX not alluring, the costumes by Anaita Shroff Adajania absurd) is the background music by Sachin-Jigar. It is nothing short of brilliant and stands out in a mess. This is one film, which if I ever revisit at gunpoint, I will HEAR and not see, just for the BGM!

But, no, we are unfair to the lead characters. Sushant Singh Rajput exhibits superstar material for the first time, and now, his future career will depend on the right choices, at least for his roles, as in this case. He is effortlessly lovable as Shiv and exudes immense charm, getting all the right nuances in his eyes, voice and body language. As Jilaan, he is just passable as the role has no scope.

Kriti Sanon, who this reviewer predicted big things for when she was first seen in “Heropanti” three years ago, vindicates my faith. Her performance in the last birth too is very convincing, and she is very good as Saira. Saira has assertive, naughty and vulnerable sides to her personality, and Sanon brings them out beautifully, scoring most on the vulnerable side. Effectively, she shows that she is (much) more than just a decorative doll like she was in her last release, “Dilwale.”

Jim Sarbh, however, should never do another HINDI film until he improves his diction! He is like some bland caricature. Varun Sharma is as usual ho-hum. Rajkummar Rao’s old man act is just exorbitant expense on his prosthetics.

Come to think of it, the film too is all about splurging money on the wrong things when it could have been a contemporary, forward, gutsy, intense yet funny romantic comedy. The film is shot in Budapest, Mauritius and Amritsar, but unlike its lead pair and the background music composers, it does not go places.

Rating: **

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