UTV Motion Pictures’ Raja Natwarlal (UA) is the story of Raja (Emraan Hashmi), a con man who wants to become rich fast. Raja makes a living by fooling and cheating people and aiding him in this is Raghav (Deepak Tijori) whom he treats as an elder brother. Raghav lives with his wife (Prachee Shah) and child. Raja loves Zia (Humaima Malik) who is a club dancer.
One day, Raja and Raghav steal a bag containing a lot of money. Just as they feel, they’ve struck gold, Raghav realises that they’d not be able to escape as the people from whom they had stolen the bag would trace them soon. And that’s what exactly happens. Since the money belonged to the very influential, Cape Town-based Varda Yadav (Kay Kay Menon), his men soon reach Raghav’s house in India. Although Raghav returns them his share of the loot, he refuses to divulge the name of Raja, his partner. After taking the money from Raghav, Varda’s men kill him right on the spot in front of Raja’s eyes.
Raja now swears revenge. He contacts Yogi (Paresh Rawal) who lives in Dharamsala and asks him for help. Yogi is Raghav’s brother and although he is reluctant to help Raja initially, he soon becomes ready as Varda Yadav had killed his very own brother. Yogi and Raja reach Cape Town and so does Raja’s lady love, Zia. Raja brings Zia to Cape Town as her life is in danger in India, with two corrupt police officers constantly blackmailing her.
In Cape Town, Raja somehow manages to touch base with Varda Yadav who is a cricket buff and loves to collect cricket memorabilia of cricketing legends. Of course, Varda is not aware that Raghav’s partner-in-crime is none other than Raja himself. The paths of Varda and Yogi cross at an auction. Anyway, Raja gets close to Varda by promising to get him to own a cricket league team which actually does not even exist. Yogi and Raja play a big con game to fool Varda into believing that he would soon own a cricket team. Do they succeed in their plan? Or does the super-sharp Varda Yadav call their bluff? Does Raja stay put with Yogi or does he ditch him or vice versa? Why were Raghav and his elder brother, Yogi, estranged? Does Raja get to know the truth about the relationship between the two brothers?
Kunal Deshmukh’s story is full of twists and turns because of which the audience’s interest does not wane as the drama progresses. Parveez Shaikh’s screenplay complements the story and it is very fast-paced, especially after interval. However, it must be added that there are so many con games played by Yogi and Raja on Varda Yadav that the audience wonders whether Varda is an ass. And, mind you, Varda is shown to be a super-sharp person. It is this which makes the drama rather difficult to digest. Also, the drama gets confusing at places but that’s more because of the many twists and turns in it than due to any flaws or defects in the screenplay. In fact, the con games Yogi and Raja play on Varda are so novel that the audience enjoys them. Nevertheless, the drama at places does look stretched. The romantic portions are very weak, and this is a major drawback. The climax, in which the details are revealed, is truly enjoyable. Sanjay Masoom’s dialogues are effective and add to the drama.
Emraan Hashmi is endearing in the role of Raja and does a very fine job. He makes the character believable and impresses with his performance. Pakistani actress Humaima Malik makes a fair Bollywood debut. She looks average. Her acting is alright and her dances are sexy and graceful. Kay Kay Menon is extraordinary as Varda Yadav. He delivers a restrained, memorable and award-winning performance. Paresh Rawal is also very good in the role of Yogi. His cool demeanour is enjoyable and entertaining. Deepak Tijori leaves a mark in a brief role. Prachee Shah lends effective support as Raghav’s wife. Ashiesh Roy (as Kashi) is lovely. Rohit Pathak (playing Hanif) and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub (in the role of the hitman) perform splendidly well. In the role of Walia, Shakti Sinha does a fine job. Sumit Nijhawan (as police inspector Singh) and Prasad Oak (as police inspector Salvi) lend terrific support. Rajeev Yadav (as Pratap), Haresh Panchal (as Ghanshyam), Namit Shah (as Vicky), Vishwanath Chatterjee (as Bhaskar Bose), Pathy Aiyar (as the host of the auction), Narendra Jetley (as the fake HDMC Bank manager), Geeta Singh (as HDMC Bank manager), Ashish Bhargav (as the hotel manager) and the others provide the required support.
Kunal Deshmukh’s direction is mature. He has handled a complex script effectively enough to make it comprehensible and enjoyable. Yuvan Shankar Raja’s music is good but the absence of hit songs is a big drawback for two reasons – the love story in the drama appears weak in the absence of hit music, and secondly, the audience has come to associate Emraan Hashmi starrers with hit music and would, therefore, feel cheated. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are lovely. Choreography (Raju Khan, Brinda Gopal and Remo D’souza) is nice. Sandeep Shirodkar’s background music is fairly good. Raaj A. Chakravarti’s cinematography is of a good standard. Action and stunts (by Parvez Shaikh and Abbas Ali Moghul) are good. Rita Ghosh’s sets and Mayur Sharma’s production designing are quite alright. Editing (by Anand Subaya and Manan Ashwin Mehta) is sharp.
On the whole, Raja Natwarlal is an entertaining thriller in parts but it lacks in two departments – the love story (which is very weak) and the music (which, in spite of being good, is not at all popular). Also, the con becomes too much to digest after a point of time. The film will, therefore, not be able to make its mark at the box-office.