Red Chillies Entertainment and Excel Entertainment’s Raees (U/A) is the story of a bootlegger in the state of Gujarat where prohibition was in force.
Raees (Shah Rukh Khan) grows up with the lessons taught by his mother, one of which is that no business is small, and no religion is bigger than one’s business. Right from their childhood, he and his bosom pal, Sadiq (Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub), had joined bootlegger Jairaj (Atul Kulkarni). They worked for him for many years till one day, Raees decides to start his own business of bootlegging. In spite of Sadiq warning him against the pitfalls of starting his own business, Raees takes the plunge. He has the daring and the sharp business acumen needed to succeed in life. In no time, he has become a force to reckon with in the illegal business of bootlegging. In the course of his business, Raees does not bat an eyelid before killing people who come in the way of his business. But he has a heart of gold for the needy people.
Even as his business is flourishing, there comes an extremely honest police officer, Jhatak Majmudar (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), who comes down heavily on illegal business. On his radar is also Raees and his illicit business of bootlegging. He goes hammer and tongs against Raees and confiscates lakhs of his bottles of liquor being smuggled by him into the state. Feeling the heat and the losses, Raees loses no time in using his connections to get Majmudar transferred. But Jhatak Majmudar is a tough nut to crack. He is not the one to give up so easily. Since he has vowed to wipe out Raees’ business, he keeps track of the trade from wherever he is transferred.
Meanwhile, Raees, who is in love with Aasiya (Mahira Khan), gets married to her. The two are enjoying life and they soon have a baby. One day, the leader of the opposition, Pashabhai (Uday Tikekar), takes out a procession against alcohol consumption, purely to woo the voters. Raees, who had warned Pashabhai against taking out the procession, especially through his area, creates mayhem when the procession reaches his turf. Several people are killed in the tension that erupts. The chief minister of Gujarat (Pramod Pathak) asks Raees to go to jail for a few days to show that the state is doing its duty in punishing criminals. The chief minister promises to ensure his release in no time. But the tables turn against Raees when the chief minister and Pashabhai join forces. It is then that Raees decides to contest the Assembly elections in the state even though he is behind bars. He wins the election and also gets bail.
On a plot of land he had won as his share of commission from the chief minister for vacating people, Raees decides to build a colony of homes for the poor and the downtrodden. He exhorts them to pay him advance money and book their homes. The poor people agree as they have the utmost faith in Raees. But the chief minister pours water over his plans when, after construction work is underway on the plot of land, he declares it as a green zone in which construction activity cannot take place. Raees, whose bootlegging business is already under fire, now also feels the heat due to the green zone order. He realises that he would lose face and be accused of fleecing the poor people if he didn’t return their monies. But he has no money to return. He, therefore, turns to Musabhai (Narendra Jha) who had helped him when he had decided to start his own business after breaking free from Jairaj.
Musabhai comes to Raees’ aid but he also seeks Raees’ help in having tonnes of gold transported from one place to another. But is the deal between Raees and Musabhai so simple? Is Raees able to return the monies of the poor? Does he escape the long arm of the law and the watchful eyes of Majmudar? Does Majmudar succeed in catching Raees red-handed?
Harit Mehta, Ashish Vashi and Niraj Shukla have written a story about a law breaker and a custodian of law, which doesn’t offer too much novelty but it has plenty of twists and turns. In spite of lack of freshness, the audience remains interested and engrossed because of two reasons: the drama is fast-paced and there are plenty of twists and turns. The trio’s screenplay is also quite interesting. But there are some dull moments too. For example, the romantic track of Raees is boring and lacks both, the warmth and the fun element. To the credit of the screenplay writers, it must be mentioned that they have kept many of the tracks running through the length of the film and have not left them midway. Two such tracks are the Bhaijaan track between Raees and his friend, Sadiq, and the track of tea between Raees and Majmudar. By the end of the drama, the audience gets the feeling that although Raees cared for the poor, there wasn’t too much heroism in his actions because he worked more for his own gains than for the downtrodden. In other words, the characteristics of Raees — daring nature and sharp business acumen — do not bring to the fore heroic qualities in him as much as they do his ability to succeed as a businessman. His helplessness when the plot of land is declared a green zone will not be liked too much by the viewers. The drama has too much of tension and few fun moments, especially after a point of time. The climax may also not give the adrenaline rush one expects in this kind of a film. However, the confrontation scenes between Raees and Majmudar are excellently written.
Dialogues, written by the trio, are superb and will draw huge rounds of applause in the cinemas, especially the single-screen cinemas.
Shah Rukh Khan performs extraordinarily well. He lives the character of Raees and plays to the gallery. His get-up (with kohl in his eyes) and his costumes only add to the overall persona of the character he plays. His facial expressions to convey defiance, arrogance and other feelings are fantastic. Mahira Khan is average in looks. In her debut role, her performance is good. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is outstanding as Jhatak Majmudar. The inherent comedy in his dialogues is only accentuated by his unique dialogue delivery. Indeed, yet another memorable performance by the immensely talented Siddiqui. Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub is so natural that you marvel at his acting. His gaze, his body language, his little nuances, all add up to a wonderful performance. Atul Kulkarni is beautifully restrained in the role of Jairaj. Narendra Jha lends credibility to the character of Musabhai with his acting. As his assistant, Jaideep Ahlawat is effective. Pramod Pathak (in the role of the chief minister), Uday Tikekar (as Pashabhai) and Raj Arun (as Ilyas) leave their respective marks with fully convincing performances. Sheeba Chaddha (as Raees’ mother), Utkarsh Majumdar (as the doctor), Bhagwan Tiwari (as inspector Devji), master Shubham Chintamani (as young Raees), master Shubham Tukaram (as young Sadiq), Loveleen Mishra (as Ratna madame) and Yusuf Hussain (as Aasiya’s father) lend excellent support. Others do as required.