“BULLET RAJA” is a gangster flick, set in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh. The movie is directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia and stars Saif Ali Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Jimmy Shergill, Vidyut Jamwal and Raj Babbar.
The promos of BULLETT RAJA compel you to visualize that this is yet another gangster film with hi-octane drama and power-packed dialogues designed for the masses. The question is, is it one? If true, can Tigmanshu pull it off? Besides, is BULLETT RAJA Tigmanshu’s big ticket break?
It is the tale of Raja Misra (Saif Ali Khan,) an educated man, who transforms during the film from a job applicant at a hotel to a notorious gangster who takes on politicians and big businesses.
BULLETT RAJA narrates the story of Raja Mishra [Saif Ali Khan], a commoner, who comes from a Brahmin family in Lucknow is victimized by the nexus of police , government and industrialists for helping Rudras ( Jimmy Shergill) family in an open fire by the enemies. He gets transformed into a notorious, care-a-damn attitude gangster. A faithful friend and a loyal lover, living life on his own terms, setting his own rules, commanding respect and fearing no one, Raja, in his true inimitable style, takes on the system that creates people like him. To save themselves and their families they unite to be hailed as Raja aur Rudra, sabke virudh (a sort of Jai and Veeru). They come up as the ruler of the entire state UP. But in the mid Rudra is assassinated which provokes the fire of revenge within Raja. In the meantime, he falls in love with (Sonakshi Sihna) who is from Kolkata. Tigmanshu Dhulia narrates the rise of one such gangster through Bullet Raja in his unique ‘style .
BULLETT RAJA takes you back to the cinema of yore. A commoner revolts against the system and sets his own rules, shaking the law makers and entrepreneurs in the process. As he gets more and more commanding and authoritative, the powers that be decide on clipping his wings… and eliminate him. Like several films made in 1980s and 1990s, BULLETT RAJA talks of a commoner who revolts against the very system he once devotedly followed. This is Tigmanshu’s take on camaraderie, matters of the heart and sacrifice.
Dhulia’s love for the political derivation and his keen interest in presenting it could be easily perceived from numerous sequences which takes place in the ‘city of Nawabs’ Lucknow. The conversation between Saif and Jimmy represents the local mindset, which are clever and hilarious at the same time. The director also deserves a mark for building the BFF chemistry beautifully between the two that reminds ‘Sholay’ sort of friendship. Rudra and Raja’s intensity appears to be far better than the romantic figure Saif and Sonakshi.
In this fast-changing scenario, a majority of stars as well as film-makers are experimenting with characters/plots they haven’t ventured so far. . Experimenting on the unexplored trail seems to be the new mantra for the dream merchants. Spanking new combinations are getting formed. Innovative and ground-breaking concepts are being attempted. The intention is to offer wide-ranging, all-encompassing entertainment to the up to date, insightful viewer. Reaching out to the pan-India audience and magnetizing the Indian diaspora globally also appears to be the objective.
Post SHAGIRD [which was disregarded by cineastes, despite strong merits!], PAAN SINGH TOMAR and SAHEB BIWI AUR GANGSTER franchise, Tigmanshu Dhulia has shaped an indelible impression on the viewer’s psyche. Consequently, Tigmanshu’s cinema is now anticipated with gusto and zeal by movie aficionados and enthusiasts. However, what raises eyebrows — and logically so — is Tigmanshu’s teaming with mainstream actors [Saif Ali Khan, Sonakshi Sinha] in his new outing. Furthermore, the gifted director goes all ‘commercial’ to entice that fragment of audience [masses] that enormously add to the big booty.
Tigmanshu’s cinema has often existed in the pragmatic zone, besides being entrenched in the heartland/interiors, and BULLETT RAJA is no exception. It’s raw, unrefined and harsh, much like Tigmanshu’s earlier endeavors. Sure, the protagonist may bring back memories of the characters we’ve watched over and over again on the big screen, but the fact remains that everything happens for a legitimate, justifiable reason here. Notwithstanding the oft-repeated premise, the screenplay has ample twists and turns and leaves you wondering, what’s gonna happen next? In fact, the games people play — not just the politicians — only envelopes you into the proceedings. The icing on the cake is the twist towards the penultimate moments.
The film stagnates after a brilliant start. The portions in Mumbai and the song that ensues [‘Tamanche Pe Disco’] is a put-off. Also, while the songs match the tone of the film, the soundtrack is plain ordinary.
BULLETT RAJA also works thanks to the dialogue [brilliant; also penned by Tigmanshu] and of course, the casting. Saif has often stolen the thunder from his contemporaries in varied and the actor, known for stylish, metro-centric characters, is sure to surprise you yet again.
Saif slips into the unconventional zone without a glitch. The actor delivers an unblemished performance, dominating every scene he appears in. He seems to have worked hard on getting the diction right, while the body language is impeccable as well. It’s a seamless leap to look the character. Saif isn’t a Langda Tyagi here but he is as entertaining as he was in Omkara. He displays the Brahmin character with immense zeal and steals the show all over.
Sonakshi Sinha playing his love interest gives a nice performance. She is charismatic and does very well in the required space. But once again has a similar limited scope of being an apple of the eye of our hero.
Jimmy Sheirgill is admirable, essaying his part with absolute understanding. The bonding between Saif and Jimmy is simply splendid. He is playing Saif’s buddy in the flick is once again brilliant. His hardcore screen presence in last few flicks has been eye-catching and one never loses his attention over him.
BULLETT RAJA is embellished with an exceptional supporting cast and each of them adjoin immense credibility to their respective characters. Vidyut Jammwal is luminous in a cameo. He adds solid muscle to the post-interval portions. He is hard-hitting as a cop. He fearlessly performs stunts at his own and is impressive in his limited act. Raj Babbar plays the scheming politician with incredible ease. Gulshan Grover is first-rate. Ravi Kissen is in terrific form, enacting the negative part with gusto. Chunkey Pandey are really good and leaves an impression in a brief role. Vipin Sharma is super. Deepraj Rana, Vishwajeet Pradhan and Sharat Saxena are perfect. Mahie Gill sizzles in the song and sequence. Music and background score by Sajid-Wajid is great.
Technically, this is amongst Tigmanshu’s polished and genteel efforts. The background score is effectual, enhancing the drama at key points. Action sequences are realistic. Thankfully, there are no South-style stunts here!
This is a fearless film. It is not afraid to celebrate the much dreaded and abused traditional filmy formula. And then, Dhulia takes his audacity from city to city in Uttar Pradesh. The jagged but constantly coherent plot takes the very conventional characters (good-bad heroes, bad-bad villains, a damsel in distress and lots of decadent politicians) on a bumpy journey across the politics of the cow-belt where there are no sacred cows. Only brazen wolves.
The film’s reckless momentum is sustained and controlled by Dhulia’s technicians who hit the right notes while taking a route that hardly affords safe options. Dangerously careening towards an anarchic world, Bullett Raja swerves away from catastrophe underlining the plot and succeeds spectacularly in creating a world where rampage is the rule.
On the whole, BULLETT RAJA is Tigmanshu Dhulia’s most ‘commercial’, mass appealing film thus far. One more superior endeavor after the immeasurably acknowledged PAAN SINGH TOMAR and the vastly admired SAHEB BIWI AUR GANGSTER franchise, all of which belong to completely diverse genres of cinema. Enjoyable, engaging and extremely distinctive, BULLETT RAJA is not to be missed!