Fri, 29 Nov 2013 18:00:00 GMT | By IANS

Review: 'Bullett Raja'

Tigmanshu Dhulia's Bullett Raja', starring Saif Ali Khan, Jimmy Shergill, Sonakshi Sinha and Vidyut Jammwal, is a masala fest of guns, grime and glory


Review: 'Bullett Raja' (© Bollywoodtrade)

From Raj Kapoor and Rajendra Kumar in 'Sangam' to Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan in 'Sholay', filmy friendships have flourished with formulistic fervour in our films.

It takes guts to turn the conventional formulistic cinema about male bonding and revenge into a tightly wound intelligently scripted and judiciously executed drama of political subterfuge in Uttar Pradesh, a favourite haunt for Tigmanshu Dhulia's cinema, here turned into a hotbed of intrigue and drama.

'Bullett Raja' is woven around characters who aren't particular about the company or the morals that they keep. Politicians and entrepreneurs hobnob with criminals and criminals end up becoming heroes of the masses just because democracy in India gives us little to choose from.

Saif Ali Khan's Raja Misra (no 'h' in the surname, plij) is a scummy sort of Robin Hood in Lucknow whom we meet initially as he escapes with his life from goons in screeching cars by gatecrashing into a wedding. There he meets Rudra (Jimmy Shergill). Then begins a kind of affable bonding between the two men, and it goes beyond the precincts of the maudlin friendships we've seen in our films so far.

Saif and Jimmy, brilliant actors both, bring a kind of brusque but unbreakable friendship between them, a bonding that you know only death can break. And it does.

Dhulia, in his most mass-oriented cinematic outing to date, brings a lot of Jai-Veeru's 'Sholay' bonding into play. The two actors do the rest. They gamely sink their teeth into the morass of Indian politics, giving a stirring dignity to inherently unsavoury episodes from the murky politics of Uttar Pradesh.

Dhulia's skills as a raconteur of remarkable aptitudes was most evident in 'Paan Singh Tomar'. Here, he attempts something even more daring. He merges mythological and historical allusions into current politics and he weds heroism and hooliganism without causing any discernible damage to his work's aesthetics.

Saif's character, a mix of goon and boon, gun and grins doesn't tire of reminding his adversaries of his Brahminical roots. He also has a strange penchant for quoting from the scriptures at the most inopportune moments.

This is a film about the scummy people who govern our country from the fringes. They are the kind of characters who either end up rich or dead. We can only curse them under our breath. And yet the spoken language of the characters remains liberated from overt profanities. The same goes for the characters themselves, so lowly and yet redeemed by unexpected bouts of humour and even compassion.

The way Saif's Raja Misra meets Sonakshi's sketchily-written character and the manner in which the script allows him to warm up to her without wasting time is a marvel of scriptural balance. Indeed, Dhulia in his most nakedly commercial outing, catches the routine friends-on-a-rampage plot by its lapels and goes for the kill with splendid skill.

(Continued)
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