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Everybody Loves R.A.W. Material

A past rarity in Bollywood, the spy thriller has arrived in times of hyper-nationalism

Everybody Loves R.A.W. Material
Secret’s out |
Everybody Loves R.A.W. Material
outlookindia.com
2019-04-12T17:52:26+05:30

Some film titles can be real misnomers. Romeo Akbar Walter (RAW) is not the Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) of our times. Unlike Manmohan Desai’s fun-filled tribute to India’s syncretic culture through his pet lost-and-found formula, John Abraham’s latest is a spy thriller based on true events dating back to the Bangladesh war, where he plays an undercover agent sent on a secret mission to Pakistan by the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). No prizes for guessing that the 46-year-old actor plays a master of disguises with three distinct names in the movie. If it sounds uncannily familiar and gives a sense of déjà vu, blame it on Raazi, Alia Bhatt’s 2018 blockbuster, which had a similar plot line.

Faceless heroes buried in the yellow pages of history are the new flavour in B-town. A number of movies with narratives woven around the derring-do of an undercover agent deployed on a covert mission inside a hostile territory or against the enemy within, have unfolded on celluloid in recent times. The huge success of last year’s Raazi is testimony to the trend settling in as another bankable template. RAW has already hit the screens while Vivek Agnihotri’s Tashkent Files, a thriller probing the various conspiracy theories surrounding the death of former PM Lal Bahadur Shastri in erstwhile USSR in 1966, is releasing next week.

Over the years, spy thrillers have come to only sparsely populate the Hindi film landscape despite the seemingly immense potential of the genre as seen in other film industries like Hollywood. Then, what reason could be attributed to this optimistic fresh sprinkle of spy flicks? In a sense, national ­security has itself...

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