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Movie Review
Bullett Raja
The fights and song ’n dance take centrestage and the film eventually plays out like just another revenge saga.

Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Jimmy Shergill, Sonakshi Sinha, Gulshan Grover, Vidyut Jamwal, Ravi Kishan
Directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia
Rating: **

The first few minutes of Tigmanshu Dhulia’s latest, Bullett Raja, reveal both its strength and weakness. Some crisp, witty dialoguebaazi is quickly followed by the most inane item song, in which Mahie Gill dances along with some foreign bodies to ridiculous lyrics that talk of burning the ‘gadda’ and ‘takiya’ of the man who dares touch her. The song is thrust into the narrative even before the context for the character of Raja (Saif) and Rudra (Jimmy) and their rather appealing friendship is properly set up. As you move further into the film, you realise that instead of digging deeper into the dirty Uttar Pradesh politics that Tig­manshu Dhulia could have done easily and effortlessly, he lets it remain a mere backdrop. The real tale is in the several surnames jostling for space on screen—Mishra, Shu­kla, Yadav, Tripathi. Dhulia takes off from UP’s vicious casteist reality, but jumps straight into the more populist elements. The fights and song ’n dance take centrestage and the film eventually plays out like just another revenge saga.

Raja and Rudra are two educated young men who want to lead regular lives. One works in a courier firm, the other wants to get into hotel management. But both are forced to land up in prison after a skirmish, ironically for their own safety. Eventually, they turn into ‘padhe-likhe gunde’ or ‘political commandos’ with some active help from minister Shuklaji (Raj Babbar). From here on it’s about chases, killings, gang wars and bloodbaths, with some romance also chucked in. The film follows a predictable path, with an interesting twist in the end. However, in the middle, the setting shifts needlessly from Lucknow to Bombay just to throw in the popular ‘tamanche pe disco’ song and later to Calcutta for yet anot­her love ditty and some Baul gaan. There are some nice, tongue-in-cheek, earthy lines and some interesting moments like the funny ‘Walk The Talk’ killings. But they are too few and leave you asking for more.

Of the entire gallery of rogues, Ravi Kishan is the most flamboyant and Jamwal the slickest, with his toned body and quick moves. Sonakshi Sinha is uninspiring and insipid.

The takeaway is the dialogue, the play on Hindi films with phr­ases like “Gussa hai ki maanta nahin” or the cheeky one on India’s moral police: “Dharmik maamlon mein hum ashl­eelta bilkul pasand nahin karte”. The other high point is the ende­aring friendship betw­een Raja and Rudra. With Sonakshi thrown in the middle, you almost start hoping and wishing for a Jules et Jim to unfold. It doesn’t. Saif is his usual brash self and Jimmy is eminently likeable. Wish there was more of this easy-going actor.

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