The one word which stands out above all for Raman Raghav 2.0 is slick. Right from the trailer, the opening credit montage, the pulp-fictiony titles on screen, the way the story is divided into chapters with cool names, the background score – the overall production values are absoultely top notch. And while that itself does not make a good film, it does add a certain joy to the experience of watching it. It made me very happy, and at an intellectually visceral level (excuse the oxymoron and understand the bhaavna :P) – proud as well that an Indian film could be this flawless.
Now, the story of Raman Raghav 2.0 has little if any suspense or mystery about it. (I liked that they took that minute to show why it’s 2.0, and build the connection – however tenuous upfront). It’s linear, it’s straightforward and as Anurag Kashyap’s told us himself on Facebook – explained down to the last T. We have Ramanna, whom we’ve known since the trailers is a psychopath – a murderer who’s unhinged and can go to any limits. But we’re also shown in the first 10 minutes itself how unhinged Raghav – the cop who’s on his case is as well. We know the lengths he can go to, to an extent the depravity he’s capable of. (Suprateek Chatterjee on HuffPost made an interesting point about how this couldn’t have been shown – and I’ve been thinking about that ever since). We therefore know once we find out that Raman is looking for his Raghav, who this Raghav is – the question is only about how he will get there. It is therefore not the greatest movie plot ever. It is however captured on-screen an extremely engaging manner in which this tale is told sucking you in and keeping you engaged for the 2 hours 20 minutes of its length. At various points of time I found myself holding my breath, flinching, leaning forward in my chair – an immersive cinema experience. And isn’t that what we go to the movies for?
The other issue which you seem to realise after stepping out of the theatre is that while the protagonist is certainly Ramanna, who is very well fleshed out – we know his quirks, his background, his philosophy (wonderfully explained in manner and matter I thought), we don’t quite know enough about Raghav. It may be a conscious call to not muddle the mind of the viewer, but as an aftertaste – it’s something you can’t quite put your finger on.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui has been there and done that with such characters before (Talaash comes to mind), but he still puts on an acting clinic in every scene he’s in. His mannerisms for walking, eating and talking, enunciation of certain words and matter-of-fact expressions are something worth revelling in – this is a unique performer at the top of his game. Vicky Kaushal, I had slightly mixed feelings about – but while he may not make you go wow, he never jars and is a worthy foil to the master in front of him – he certainly holds his own. Amruta Subhash is excellent at conveying the horror of a sister in a slightly disturbing role, as are some of the actors playing smaller roles too. I loved the girl (Sobhita Dhulipala, Google tells me) – there are many roles as a siren coming her way for sure – she looks stunning and in a limited role, plays her part. Eventually though this is the director’s film through and through.