There are two kinds of movies based on serial killers. One, where you are not shown the real identity of the killer and the film is all about the search completely depending upon the mystery element involved in the investigation process, and two, where you are straight away introduced to the psycho man and then get to see him making all his random or specific killings with the police trying to catch him as the third party.
Interestingly where the first kind of presentation makes an engaging and exciting watch due to its teasing suspense, the second largely remains a psychological film heavily depending upon its way of presentation, the performances and the director’s personal interpretation of the theme reaching out to his target audience.
The present RAMAN RAGHAV 2.0 is the second kind of film to be specific, so the viewers looking for some food to satisfy their hungry grey cell are going to be disappointed. More so because the film doesn’t have any kind of deep justifications or detailing given to its characters leaving you with many unanswered questions about the crimes committed so ruthlessly.
Having said that there still is a masterstroke played by director Anurag Kashyap through his clever title and the pre-release hype created around a man, the film is least concerned about in its entire duration of more than two hours.
Inspired from a brutal serial killer of mid 60s operating in Mumbai and a short docu-fiction kind of film made on the subject by director Sriram Raghavan (with Raghuvir Yadav) in the early 90s, Anurag named his film as RAMAN RAGHAV 2.0 and the whole world started thinking as if the film was all about that 60’s weirdo serial killer and Nawazuddin was playing the same in his own peculiar style visualized by Anurag Kashyap.
But as the film begins, a few slides inform you about the original Raman Raghav and the next one clearly says that, This is not about that Raman Raghav of 1960s, simply mocking all those web-articles, news-items, features and more written with a wrong assumption taking it a bio-pic on the lesser known criminal made by the controversial director. In fact the complete title using two names Raman and Raghav adding a 2.0, gives you an entirely different meaning in the end, which exactly is a masterstroke reminding you of the ones associated with the renowned film-makers such as Quentin Tarantino who certainly have a strong influence over Kashyap and many more new-age Indian directors of this present age.
Dividing the film into several chapters (on a similar format seen in many QT films), the second clever feature of RR 2.0 remains its well written dialogues that force you to think upon them repeatedly. And the rest is done by the fine performances with Nawazuddin Siddiqui once again delivering a gem of an act (as a psycho killer) followed by the talented Vicky Kaushal (as the drug addict inspector), Sobhita Dhulipala (as Vicky’s girlfriend), Amruta Subhash (as Nawazuddin’s sister) and Vipin Sharma (in a cameo appearance).
Opening with strobe effects in a pub playing the ‘Qatl-e-Aam’ track, the film straight away gives you the surprise of being a story of a fictional serial killer in the present era and not the one from the 60s. The progression remains engaging with a tight editing, but not for everyone sitting in the theatre due to some severely shocking and mentally violent scenes along with a particular appalling one (discussed in details later). Unnecessary abuses can be noticed in a few scenes besides the brutal killings and the parallel track of the inspector adds a different angle into the storyline making it an interesting watch. Yet it largely remains dependent upon the acting skills of Nawazuddin Siddiqui alone till interval and doesn’t have any exciting twists and turns normally associated with such intense crime thrillers focusing on a cunning character.
Post intermission, a monotonous kind of feel, deliberate song insertions and the romantic track of the investigating officer reduces the impact further. But it thankfully ends with some decent sequences conceived around its two key characters completing each other. However I personally didn’t find any kind of big or fresh, unpredictable revelations made in its final moments.
Majorly saved by his performers instead of any exceptional writing or screenplay, no doubt Anurag is back in a good form with his Raman Raghav, but this also cannot be rated as any winning innings from the director visiting his favourite genre of dark and violent crime thrillers. Yes, one doesn’t feel bored looking at the quick story developments talking about more than one psycho character on the screen. Yet it doesn’t turn out to be any powerful, mind blowing serial killer movie forcing you to think and keep guessing on a constant basis. Also, a strong ‘Déjà vu’ kind of feeling is always there watching the entire film. May be because we have already seen Nawazuddin doing several similar kind of roles in the past as in BADLAPUR, MISS LOVELY, TALAASH, GANGS OF WASSEYPUR and more. Admittedly playing such creepy characters Siddiqui looks so convincing, that probably the directors are not able to think of any other name for such roles (sadly) typecasting a terrific performer.
As a Anurag Kashyap film, RR 2.0 is unable to deliver that expected depth and pull which was much better in his UGLY in comparative terms. Though Kashyap successfully makes you feel the blood and violence happening on the screen without even showing it visually through an intelligent camerawork and sound, yet one doesn’t feel any kind of empathy for either the victims or the lead characters throughout the film in any way whatsoever. In fact you don’t even feel any strong hatred too for either Nawaz or Vicky at all as they never turn out to be some compelling characters reaching out to the viewers in any impactful manner as desired. One just keeps watching them emoting on the screen and doesn’t feel like exploring their criminal mindsets, their personal reasoning behind the murders and more, unlike a film revolving around a mad, sinister serial killer. Moreover it was really strange to see such a childish depiction of Police in the film, where the officials simply forget about a person locked in a deserted building and then casually hold a dangerous wanted murderer as if he is a local pocketmaar being taken to the police station.
On the technical ground, as always Anurag delivers a polished product with a noteworthy camerawork shooting at actual locations and a captivating background score giving a rhythmic edge to the film enhancing the onscreen proceedings. However there can be no denying to the fact that such catchy riffs, beats or songs commencing at just the right moment do make you feel pumped up as if participating in the criminal activity shown on the screen that can easily be stated as glorifying or romancing the violence in a dangerously influential manner. Also at times provocative, violent lyrics served with appealing beats or arrangements do make me think about the impact they can make on the youngsters in a dark, smoke filled night club playing them too loud. For instance, imagine a song like ‘Behooda’ being played in a disco and people improvising on its lyrics making different postures.
Coming to the most disturbing sequence in the film, Anurag continues with the subject of incestuous relationships in his present RR 2.0 too as seen in his THAT GIRL WITH YELLOW BOOTS released in 2013. But here the insertion is quite deliberate that could have been easily avoided as the purpose of character assassination of both Nawaz and Amruta was already done in the explosive lines spoken just before the introduction of the appalling incest angle. To give you a clear idea, the moment Nawaz makes all those shocking revelations about Amruta’s young days right in front of her husband without any hiding at all, it completely crushes her entire persona in a much decisive manner in just a few seconds. But Anurag willfully doesn’t stop there and goes on adding the incest angle into the sequence too in order to make it more brutal and disturbing. In other words, when the mention of all young premature sexual relationships and incest was already made in the dialogues itself, it was clearly deliberate moving into more verbal and physical depiction of the same sensationalizing the entire scene.
For records, the topic of incest has been there in Hindi Cinema in more than 25 films since the 1940s (mentioned in details in the last chapter of my book DID YOU KNOW (Vol.1) available online), but it has never been presented with such a disgusting visual execution ever till date as in RR 2.0.
However, comparing this particular sequence with the 89 cuts given to last week’s UDTA PUNJAB, its really strange that the censor board find the abuses spoken in a scene as objectionable but not there visual depiction on the screen quite weirdly. So you cannot say it as an abuse but can practically show it in a scene justifying your character’s requirement. That’s really a great insightful thinking indeed with some amazing logic. (I hope you can easily get what I wish to express here without using the exact words).
Concluding the review with another worth mentioning scene in the film, this is where we get to see the mental level of Nawazuddin’s wacko character (that can also be stated as the best scene of the film as per my personal opinion), where he is not able to count even two thousand rupees with a few notes lying on the counter getting confused repeatedly. The scene actually conveys that though his physical age might have crossed 30-35, but his mental age is still somewhere stuck around under-10. And in reality this can also be noticed in many of the normal people in the society too…………. who are not any criminals!
In all RAMAN RAGHAV 2.0 can certainly be seen once for Nawazuddin Siddiqui and his thoughtful dialogues alone without expecting any great, path breaking serial killer film from the over-famous Anurag Kashyap.
Rating : 2.5 + 0.5 / 5 (with an additional 0.5 just for the clever trick played with the title)