(This review may contain spoilers as the story has been mentioned in great detail here)
T-Series Films and Panorama Studios’ Raid (UA), based on a true story, is about an honest income-tax officer and his most challenging raid.
Amay Patnaik (Ajay Devgan) is an income-tax officer with cent per cent integrity. He doesn’t accept bribes and even refuses to accept gifts as, according to him, a gift by a member of the public to a government servant like him is akin to a bribe. Amay has just recently been posted in Lucknow and the year is 1981. He and wife Malini (Ileana D’cruz) have moved in into their modest house and have just about settled there.
One day, Amay receives a phone call from an unknown caller who informs him about black money in the local MP, Rameshwar Singh’s (Saurabh Shukla) house. Rameshwar Singh wields so much power that the people of Lucknow call him Tauji and almost worship him. Amay does his homework and, after being convinced about the tip-off that the informer has given him, raids the house of Tauji following authorisation by the D.I. Commissioner (Udayvir Singh). Amay, his team of assistants and a number of police officers reach Tauji’s mansion and, much to the shock of Tauji and his large extended family, begin the raid after completing the formalities and explaining the family members the rules to be followed by themselves (income-tax department officers) and by the family members. Tauji and his family members try their level best to browbeat Amay and drive him away by threatening him of dire consequences but Amay doesn’t budge.
After many hours of search, Amay and his team get nothing of the Rs. 420 crore of black money believed to be hidden in the house and other places. Just as it begins to appear that Amay’s mission was going to yield nothing and that Tauji would, therefore, seek revenge by ruining his career, Amay tastes some success. He then starts getting more and more lucky as he unearths more and more black money, gold bars, items of jewellery and other riches from the most unlikely places in the mansion.
The raid continues over a few days and Amay finally unearths the entire estimated amount of unaccounted wealth. Somehow, Tauji gets the feeling that it is a member of his own family who has spilled the beans and thereby aided Amay. Tauji being Tauji, he uses all the contacts at his command to stop the raid. He even offers to pay Amay huge amounts by way of bribe. When nothing works, Tauji attacks Amay’s wife, Malini. As a last resort, Tauji musters the support of the people of Lucknow, who are his blind supporters. These supporters come to Tauji’s mansion in large numbers, armed with weapons, to prevent Amay and his team from taking the seized amount of wealth to the government treasury. It is now the question of Amay’s duty versus the lives of Amay and his team mates.
What happens thereafter? Does Amay succeed in his mission? Does he survive the raid? Are his team members and he himself able to escape from the mansion? Is the seized amount deposited in the government treasury? Who was the informer? Was there a member of Tauji’s family, who had leaked information to Amay while the raid was underway?
Ritesh Shah’s story, based on a true-life incident about the longest-running income-tax raid till 1981, is about bravery, honesty and integrity of the highest order and hence inspires patriotic feelings among the audience as it talks about the selflessness of government servants in the line of duty. The story is novel as one has not seen a film about income-tax raids and honest income-tax officers thus far. Although the story is about one incident, it has a lot of turns and twists and hence keeps the audience engrossed and engaged. Ritesh Shah has established the characters of the drama so succinctly that his genius in that department needs to be lauded.
The screenplay, also penned by Ritesh Shah, is lovely. Although it is the story of an upright and serious kind of income-tax officer, Shah has laced it with so much humour that the screenplay offers many fun moments to the viewers, often making them smile and even laugh but without robbing the drama of the seriousness of the mission. Very intelligently, he has made the humour often emanate from the weird behaviour of the characters rather than infusing a separate or forced track of comedy into the drama. The first half has several light moments whereas the post-interval portion, also replete with humour, has a lot of drama. The dramatic portions are often thrilling too. The pace does dip at a couple of places – mostly when there’s a song included – but that’s not much of a problem if only because the songs are lyrically meaningful. Overall, like the story, the screenplay is also interesting and entertaining.
Ritesh Shah’s dialogues are excellent and punch-packed. Several of them are clapworthy. Special mention must be made of the dialogues written for the scenes of confrontation between Amay and Tauji.
Ajay Devgan is first-rate in the role of Amay Patnaik. He does a fantastic job of the upright income-tax officer, never once faltering or going over board. He makes the character be lievable and makes it very inspiratio nal too. His understated performance only adds to the strength of the char acter without tiring the viewers. Ileana D’cruz looks pretty and makes her mark as Amay’s understanding wife, Malini. She has limited scenes but, nevertheless, leaves a fine impression. Saurabh Shukla plays the role of Tauji to perfection. He gives the char acter so many shades that his perfor mance would remain etched in peo ple’s memory for a long time. His arro gance, frustration, helplessness, con fusion – all these are portrayed by him so wonderfully that the audience would admire him! Amit Sial lends excellent support as Amay’s aide, Lallan. Amit Bimrot leaves a wonderful mark in the role of Satish, another aide of Amay. As Mukta, one of the leading mem bers of the raiding team, Gayathiri is simply lovely. Sheeba Chadha is won derfully restrained as Prabha Devi. Saanand Verma makes his presence felt as Suraj Singh. Sulagna Panigrahi is terrific as Tara. Geeta Agarwal’s natural performance as Reema evokes laughter. Ravi Khanwilkar is good as Rakesh Singh. Pushpa Joshi deserv es distinction marks for her performance as Dadi. Her acting and her dia logues are so extraordinary that they often bring the house down with laugh- ter! Devas Dixit has his moments as Shashi Singh. Pravin Singh Sisodia is alright as Anubhav Singh. Saurabhi Singh (as Jaya) and Simran Nisha (as Sushma) are effective. Udayvir Singh leaves a fine mark as the D.I. Commi ssioner. Flora Jacob (as the prime minister) and Anil Rastogi (as the fin ance minister) make their presence amply felt. Prakash Bajpai (as Ramu Kaka), Manju Shukla (as Kaki), Pan kaj Dixit (as PAC commandant), Ram Raksha Singh (as PAC inspector), Akashdeep Pandey (as Amay’s driver), R.C. Pathak (as the chief minister), Kader Sheikh (as the chief minister’s P.A.), Ikram Khan (as the prime minister’s P.A.), and the rest of the artistes provide good support.
Raj Kumar Gupta’s direction is superb. He has handled the subject with the sensitivity it deserves. His narrative style is easy-going and con sistent. Music (Amit Trivedi; songs re created by Tanishk Bagchi) is fair. Lyrics (by Manoj Muntashir and Ind raneel) are meaningful. Raju Khan’s choreography is functional. Amit Trive di’s background music is lovely. Alph onse Roy does a fine job of the cine matography. R.P. Yadav’s action and stunt scenes are adequately thrilling. Production designing (Rita Ghosh) and art direction (Madhumita Sen and Rajesh Choudhury) are of a good standard. Bodhaditya Banerjee’s edit ing is sharp.
On the whole, Raid is a box-office winner all the way. It has entertainment and a patriotic feel about it, which will be loved by the audience of multiplexes and single-screen cinemas alike.