T-Series Films and Panorama Studios present “Raid”
Produced by: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Kumar Mangat Pathak & Abhishek Pathak with Sanjeev Joshi and Neelima Pathak
Directed by: Rajkumar Gupta
Written by: Ritesh Shah
Music: Amit Trivedi
Starring: Ajay Devgn, Ileana D’Cruz, Saurabh Shukla, Amit Sial, Amit Bimrot,
Gayathiri, Udayveer Singh, Sheeba Chaddha, Saanand Verma, Sulagna Panigrahi,
Geeta Agarwal, Ravi Khanwilkar, Pushpa Joshi, Devas Dixit, Pravin Singh Sisodia, Saurabhi Singh, Simran Nisha, Flora Jacob, Anil Rastogi, Prakash Bajpai, Manju Shukla, Pankaj Dixit, Ram Raksha Singh, Akashdeep Pandey, R.C. Pathak, Kader Sheikh, Ikram Khan and others
The basic plotline is known to all from the trailer, and also by way of news that the film is based on a real story, part-dramatized and fictionalized, of course. In 1981, a brave Income-Tax officer, on a tip, had raided a Congress MLA and unearthed the biggest black money haul in the country.
Here, the same tale is shown through Lucknow’s officer Amey (Ajay Devgn), who takes on politician Rajeshwar Singh aka Tauji (Saurabh Shukla) by acting on a tip again. He gets approval from the income-tax commissioner in Delhi (Udayveer Singh), assures him that the tip is trustworthy, and also says that he will not put his team in any danger.
His team comprises the corrupt Lallan (Amit Sial), rookie Satish (Amit Bimrot) and Mukta (Gayathiri) and he keeps the target a secret from them until, along with the police, they are on the way, so that any corrupt officer cannot warn the intended target (among many whom Lallan has called and warned!).
When they arrive at the destination, Amey informs Tauji and his clan of all the rules and formalities and begins work. Everything seems futile, as nothing is discovered. But Amey has the map of Tauji’s big premises, and, unwittingly, he is helped by some of Tauji’s family members. However, when the stored loot begins to be discovered, Tauji will not take things lying down. From pulling strings to breaking the law in desperation, he will stop at nothing.
However, standing like a rock behind Amey, who has been transferred for the 49th time, is his courageous wife (Ileana D’Cruz), who tells him that he has never made a mistake in his profession – ever.
The major part of the film, which moves fast except when unwanted re-created and original songs come as annoying speed-breakers, is like a gritty and gripping game of chess, where the loser suddenly emerges the winner with just one move and thanks to a few mistaken moves made by the opponent.
The final identity of the in-family betrayer comes as a shocking denouement, though we do not know if this part of the original saga was true or is fictionalized. But the final sequence between the Prime Minister (we all know who it was then) and her P.A. seems a shade cynical – is this how PMs decide what is right or wrong? Or is it the most subtle indicator in the movie from the filmmaking team that this is how things used to be, even at the topmost levels, at that time? Also, if Amey’s courageous steps are encouraged, why is he transferred again?
For me, the main asset of the film is the relentless, uniform and undisturbed (but for the dispensable songs) narration. There are no frills, like flashbacks or side-plots or item songs, no needless dances or fights, and even the sequences between the lead pair are minimalistic and to-the-point. On the other hand, the realism is riveting indeed, and the intrinsic wit in certain sequences that make us chuckle in the midst of an intense scene raises the film to great heights.
There are five super-sparkling stars in this film who together make it the best in the first quarter of 2018: editor Bodhaditya Banerjee, who at 128 minutes makes this the best-paced film so far this year, director Rajkumar Gupta, who travels leagues ahead of all his earlier films in his overall vision and execution of the story, writer Ritesh Shah, whose script and lines are explosively crackling, and the two lead protagonists, Ajay Devgn and Saurabh Shukla.
For a change, even Ajay Devgn, perfect and very much as Amey, is dwarfed by the man who breaks all boundaries he has set for himself and dazzles as Tauji – Saurabh Shukla. His expressions at varying points and in varying moods, like when Amey tells him about his “karam” (deeds) or when he stands in front of the PM are like master-classes in screen performance, much like his overall caliber here. Perfection in body language and tones add to the whopping impact he makes, streets ahead of his National-award-winning performance in “Jolly LLB” or anything else he has done so far.
Ileana D’Cruz has nothing much to do - and does it well! Her sincerity is transparent. Amit Sial is excellent as we see him flawlessly etch completely logical and natural changes in his character as the story goes on, A special delight is Pushpa Joshi as Tauji’s feisty mother. Amit Bimrot and the South actress Gayathiri Iyer make a mark despite small roles, and Sulagna Panigrahi as Tara stands out within Tauji’s clan.
Not to be missed, this thriller and Gupta can be forgiven multiple “Ghanchakkar”’s for giving us this one. And the man has made only one such disaster. Welcome to the best film 2018 has seen in its first quarter. And let me tell you that this is ABSOLUTELY the very first with a repeat value.