Tigmanshu Dhulia is getting bolder and louder. Bolder, in the sense that he is trying to please the masses, louder in his characterization of his main protagonists.
What he has achieved so far has been commendable. In Bollywood, he has carved a niche for himself with his brand of cinema. Somewhere, I guess he is getting swayed by success and taking too many cinematic liberties which are good for directors who are making films for the sake of making films. Not for Tigmanshu, though. He is too shrewd an actor and filmmaker to rush into creating characters of paper that have no weight and can blow in any direction.
He did the same mistake with SAHEB BIWI AUR GANGSTER RETURNS. He makes a far worse mess here. Therein lies the tragedy of BULLETT RAJA.
Saif Ali Khan's Raja Mishra and Jimmy Sheirgill's Rudra are vaguely referred to Jai and Veeru from SHOLAY. Their background too remains like that - vague. Raja is sucked into the vortex of crime, when one day he is being chased by goons. With nowhere to hide, he joins a baaraat
and lands at the wedding where he befriends Rudra. An item number later, he goes into the thickets to warm up with Mahie Gill when he overhears a plot to wipe out Sharat Saxena's family, where Rudra is a relative. Sharat is a powerful goon in Uttar Pradesh.
The culprit here is Chunky Pandey who joins hands with an opposing goon, Vishwajeet Pradhan, to finish off Sharath Saxena and his family. Now Chunky is almost like family to the people he plans to eliminate.
But Raja's timely intervention saves the family from bloodshed. They (Rudra and he) now become a pair and the entire town of UP looks up to them when Sharat Saxena is eliminated and they in turn kill Pradhan. They are now asked to 'rest' in prison where they meet a top goon played by Vipin Sharma who is the power center of UP politics. Vipin encourages them to become 'political soldiers' and gets them to work for politician Raj Babbar.
All is well until Rudra is killed. Raja then vows to avenge his death. The entire second half is devoted to Raja's desire to get even, even at the cost of crossing swords with the man who is protecting him.
BULLETT RAJA is full-on TASHAN. High on style with no thought given to scripting. Even the introduction of Sonakshi Sinha's character lacks vision. She just comes in and warms up to the dudes and is willing to stay with them. Even if she was not in the film, it would have made no difference.
For me, the film only works when Vidyut Jamwal makes his appearance. This guy here has a long future. Slick action, stylish moves and an impressive screen presence. He dwarfs Saif Ali Khan, literally, when the two match up. It's a pity that their fight scenes had to be botched so badly to make Saif emerge the winner; it ends up looking silly. Apart from Vidyut, Jimmy steals a march over Saif in his 'Rudra Avataar'.
The ending too leaves a lot to be desired. It has the Abbas-Mastan formula. They go back to the end after showing a particular scene to show again, as to what more happened in the scene which they did not bother to show us in the first place. Ridiculous!
A relief is when Tigmanshu keeps the funny moments alive in serious situations. 'Talk the Walk', a take on 'Walk the Talk' is well executed as is also the eccentricity of Raja to kill his opponents by infusing some humour.
What also proves to be a downfall is Tigmanshu's 'comfort level' with a particular set of actors that he has been using all throughout. Movie making is a creative field and you always need the right actors for the characters. As a director, you need to be assured that the character chosen is not because he is willing to work for less, free or even as a favour.
Talent needs to be respected and properly compensated, only then will you get quality. As for me, I don't want to feel like I am watching a television serial when I walk in to a Tigmanshu Dhulia film.
Having said that, if action is your forte, then bite this Bullett!