Having the magnificent casting of the irresistible Ajay Devgn as the honest and fearless IT officer and the brilliant Saurabh Shukla as the power drunk politician from the Hindi heartland, RAID is a relevant, realistic, drama that surprisingly makes the noise even when it is quiet.
Helmed by Raj Kumar Gupta (AAMIR, NO ONE KILLED JESSICA, GHANCHAKKAR previous), RAID on the face of it looks like a political potboiler but isn’t actually the one that shouts a loud on relevant topics like black money, corruption. RAID is a powerful but quiet film, constructed with hidden thoughts on morality that whispers the changing levels of trust, betrayal, faith and the dilemma to find the enemy within.
PINK & B.A. PASS fame writer Ritesh Shah gets straight to the point, downright honest IT officer Amay Patnaik (Ajay Devgn) gets a tip from a source about the illegal assets of a powerful political leader Tauji (Saurabh Shukla). The honest Patnaik who gets transferred on average at every season gets the approval to conduct an elaborate Raid on Tauji’s home and businesses. Patnaik’s wife played by Ileana D'Cruz is his source of courage. It’s early morning in Lucknow, circa 1981, power drunk 24x7 ‘Baahubali’neta (powerful politician) Tauji sips his morning tea and says, “ jab tak chai nahi peeya, tab taka ankh hi nahi khulta” (it’s impossible to wake up without sipping the morning tea). An uncompromising and downright honest IT officer Amay Patnaik with his team is waiting to pierce into the pride and bloated ego of the corrupt neta - Tauji with an elaborate raid on Tauji’s home and businesses.
Before the commencement of the raid, the honest fearless Amay Patnaik says, “ sampati jabt ho jaane ke baad, sarkar ki taraf se kharcha diya jayega” ( after seizing of all the illegal assets, if required the government will take care of the expenses required for daily needs) a feeling of astonishment gets painted constantly on the face of Tauji as the confident Amay Patnaik and his team conduct the raid, a silent undercurrent of aghast, sadness, anger and triumph is felt by the audience.
As a helmer Raj Kumar Gupta redeems himself after the brain-scrambler GHANCHAKKAR that had the classic odd pairing of Vidya Balan and Emraan Hashmi in those weird night suites. RAID puts the helmer on track though it’s not as strikingly stark and brilliant like his first feature AAMIR (inspired from the Filipino-American thriller CAVITE) starring Rajeev Khandelwal. RAID is in similar lines with his previous NO ONE KILLED JESSICA (based on the Jessica Lal murder case), this time Raj Kumar Gupta gets inspired by the real life I-T raids that were conducted during the '80s in India.
The biggest USP of RAID is the pitch perfect casting. Ajay Devgn as the fearless and honest IT officer is an intense cross between the determined SINGHAM, the daring Superintendent of Police Amit Kumar in GANGAJAL with an emotional heart like musician Ajay in ZAKHM. Patnaik is not the super hero like Bajirao Singham, he is realistic down to earth though he takes an issue relevant to the society. Ajay Devgn gets into the skin of his character with tremendous ease, he is natural, rightly subdued and carries an air of intensity throughout, doesn,t go overboard and has hardly shouted or slapped anyone in this terrifically controlled performance.
RAID is another reason why Saurabh Shukla is such an amazing talent, he as the power drunk politician Tauji is in one word matchless, after watching RAID it feels like nobody could have done Tauji the way Saurabh Shukla has done. His banter with Ajay Devgn, his aghast and change of emotions during his desperate attempts to stop the raid and the state of shock marred with the feeling of helplessness he undergoes when he discovers an enemy within his family is class apart.
Veteran actor Sushma Joshi, who plays Saurabh Shukla’s mother, is outstanding, through this character, the director and the writer successfully add sly humour to this erstwhile intense drama and it works well.
Writer Ritesh Shah comes with some good punches in between and the supporting cast like Amit Sial, Amit Bimrot and Gayathri, who play Ajay’s colleagues, are quite good. Ravi Khanwilkar, Sheeba Chadha, Devas Dixit, Pravin Sisodia, Saanand Verma and others who play Saurabh Shukla family members chip in with valuable support.
Ileana D'Cruz looks beautiful and does her part fairly well but she is unfortunately part of one of the major flaws of this film. Raj Kumar Gupta in his intention to portray her as a source of courage for Patnaik is acceptable in scenes when both Devgn and Illeana are at home together, but the sudden popping up of songs during tense situations goes against the film and threatens its very existence. Incidents like coming to deliver food personally to her hubby and his 20 odd colleagues who are conducting the biggest raid during its times is forcibly an attempt to add unwanted saccharine to the relationship which was already established in the opening reels of the film.
The projection of the Indian prime minister during the said era in the film is tacky, maybe the makers wanted to avoid controversy but that is also self defeating in the sense that the subject in itself is relevant and the story telling has adopted a realistic approach.
Raj Kumar Gupta’s approach in RAID is one dimensional in a way, some cine goers especially those who expect Ajay Devgn to do some spectacular action may be disappointed but mind you the character of Patnaik is realistically designed and he is not a one man army like massy potboilers who fights the mob singlehandedly.
Having said that, those who have a single minded agenda to get entertained and find escapist heroism in RAID may be left wanting and won,t try to understand the requirements of the character played by Ajay Devgn.
Further to make it much better and more mass appealing, Raj Kumar Gupta could have taken more liberty in showing Patnaik as an underdog who comes triumph after failures. If could have been much better if the director has shown the pressures faced by honest IT officers in getting permission to conduct raid. The movie also dips in second half and falls prey to predictability as the Patnaik’s team find the hidden assets of currency notes, gold biscuits, ornaments, gold vessels from unlikely sources.
Technically sound, Amit Trivedi background score pumps up the proceedings, Alphonse Roy’s cinematography is fine, production values are first rate.
In spite of flaws, RAID starring Ajay Devgn in lead is undoubtedly relevant, more human and realistic than a run of the mill political potboiler, it’s a compelling piece of cinema in the end that has a subtle reaction to the black money issue, it conducts the raid ( read engages) the audience and makes the noise without shouting on top.
Movie Cast & Crew
Actor: Ajay Devgn, Saurabh Shukla, Saanand Verma
Actress: Ileana D'Cruz, Gayathri Iyer
Producer: Abhishek Pathak, Kumar Mangat Pathak, Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar
Director: Raj Kumar Gupta
Cinematography: Alphonse Roy
Music Director: Amit Trivedi, Tanishk Bagchi
Production house: Panorama Studios, T-Series