Fox Star Studios India Pvt. Ltd., Brandsmith Motion Pictures and Moving Pictures’ Bullett Raja (UA) is based in Lucknow and is about the nexus between politics and the underworld there. Raja Mishra (Saif Ali Khan) and Rudra Tripathi (Jimmy Shergill) meet by chance at the wedding of a relative of Rudra and hit it off very well. The two, gangsters in their own right, soon become a formidable team and have the blessings of minister Ram Babu Shukla (Raj Babbar).
One day, Raja and Rudra kidnap business tycoon Bajaj (Gulshan Grover) and let him go only after extorting money. They also, in the process, save a struggling Bengali starlet, Mitali (Sonakshi Sinha), from Bajaj’s clutches. Before long, Raja falls in love with the Bengali beauty. Unable to forget his kidnapping, Bajaj returns to seek revenge and he is accompanied by Sumer Yadav (Ravi Kishan) who, too, has an axe to grind with Raja and Rudra. Raja is away for a family wedding and Bajaj, Sumer and their men succeed in killing Rudra.
Raja Mishra is aghast and vows to avenge his friend’s murder. Soon, Raja kills Sumer Yadav. Even as he is planning his next move, minister Ram Babu Shukla’s mind is poisoned against Raja and he becomes ready to backstab Raja. Not just Raja, Ram Babu Shukla also decides to have Arjun Singh Munna (Vidyut Jammwal), called to Lucknow to eliminate Raja, killed after he has finished Raja. An artist-friend (Gaurav Dixit) of Raja, spills the beans about the minister’s plan before Raja.
What happens then? Does Raja Mishra kill Arjun Singh Munna or does he inform him of the minister’s plan? Does Arjun Singh Munna kill Raja? Is Arjun Singh Munna also eliminated? Or do Raja Mishra and Arjun Singh Munna join forces?
The story, written by Tigmanshu Dhulia and Amaresh Misra, does not have even a hint of novelty and is similar to several films seen earlier. Also, there are so many characters in the film that they serve to often confuse the viewers. At heart, the story is a routine vendetta drama set against the backdrop of U.P. politics of which the audience has had more than enough. Tigmanshu Dhulia and Amaresh Misra’s screenplay, like their story, offers no newness and it would not be wrong to say that every scene in the film looks like something one has seen in the past. The writers have given so much prominence to action, violence and bloodshed that the multiplex-frequenting audiences are bound to feel repulsed by that. Had the story been engaging and/or novel or had the presentation been unique, even the excessive violence may have worked but given the routine nature of the story and the equally routine presentation, the overdose of violence, blood and gore will put off the multiplex and class audience.
Viewed differently, the screenplay terribly falls short in three important or key departments: romance is far from heart-warming; comedy is minimal and hardly the kind that would make the viewers laugh loudly; and emotions absolutely fail to move the audience. Although Raja and Mitali’s romance is a significant part of the drama, it is half-baked. As for the emotional part, even Rudra’s death and Raja’s emotional outburst thereafter leave the viewers unaffected and totally unconcerned.
The drama does have some engaging moments. The chase sequence between Raja and Bajaj and the portions of inspector Arjun Singh Munna are very interesting. However, such scenes are few and simply not enough to make an impact. Also, things happen so easily in the first half that everything looks stage-managed which, actually, is not the case.
Dialogues, written by Tigmanshu Dhulia, are earthy and have the typical U.P. flavour.
Saif Ali Khan plays Raja very ably which is creditable, give that he has an image that is very city-centric, suave and stylish. Sonakshi Sinha is quite good but in the scheme of things, she doesn’t have a role that is even remotely significant. Jimmy Shergill is effective as Rudra. Vidyut Jammwal is extraordinary in the stunts and action scenes. Raj Babbar does a fair job. Gulshan Grover is earnest as Bajaj. Ravi Kishan has his moments. Chunkey Panday is okay as Lallan Tiwari. Sharat Saxena does well as Parshuram Pandey. Rajiv Gupta makes his presence felt as Balwan Yadav. Vipin Sharma leaves a mark in the role of Srivastava. Deepraj Rana (as IG Owais Siddiqui), Vishwajit Pradhan (as Akhandveer Singh), Gaurav Dixit (as the artist), Sanjeev Vats (as the constable), Shankar Mishra (as the senior cop), Udayveer Singh (as the SP), Gyani (as the minister), Sri Gaur (as Raja Mishra’s father), Praveen (as Rudra’s father), Mamta Saxena (as Raja’s mother), Meeta Pant (as Rudra’s mother), Sushil Shukla (as Ram Babu Shukla’s PA), Dulal Lahiri (as Mitali’s father), Maumita Gupta (as Mitali’s mother), Shekhar Banerjee (as Mitali’s uncle), Shorbani Chatterjee (as Mitali’s aunt), Debjani Ghosh (as Mitali’s grandmother), Falguni Chatterjee (as the senior cop in Calcutta), Sudip Mukherjee and Sandip Sarkar (both as goons in Calcutta) lend the desired support. Mahie Gill is very nice in an item song-dance number in a special appearance.
Tigmanshu Dhulia’s direction is good. He has effectively created the backdrop of U.P. and has drawn good performances from his artistes. But his narrative style and script will cater mainly to the masses in the hinterland. He has almost completely ignored the multiplex and class audience as the various points of symbolism in his film and the similarity of characters with real-life characters will not be enough to lure them to the cinemas. Sajid-Wajid and RDB’s music is good but the absence of hit and chartbusting songs is felt. ‘Tamanche pe disco’, ‘Don’t touch my body’ and the title track are the pick of the lot. Lyrics (Kausar Munir, Sandeep Nath and Raftaar) are alright. As far as the choreography (Ganesh Acharya and Brinda) is concerned, the picturisation of ‘Don’t touch my body’ is eye-filling. The choreography of the other songs is just about okay. Sajid-Wajid’s background music should have been far more effective. Parvez Fazal Khan’s action scenes are in keeping with the needs of the script. P.S. Vinod’s cinematography is nice. Dhananjoy Mondal’s sets are realistic. Rahul Srivastava’s editing is not upto the mark as there are several jerks in the drama.
On the whole, Bullett Raja is a routine revenge drama which will not find favour with the audience. Its performance in the single-screen cinemas of mass centres may be just about okay but it will fail to cut ice with the multiplex audience.