Wrong Side Raju

Keep Calm And Wait For The Climax

***

Despite some fine performances, this much-hyped movie falls short on many fronts.

***

wrong_side_raju_posterIt obviously becomes news when the pied piper of new ‘urban’ Gujarati cinema Abhishek Jain brings his new movie. But wait. This time, he is in the producer’s chair with a big company of Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane fame ‘Phantom Films.’ A close associate of Abhishek Jain, young debutant director Mikhil Musale has worn a director’s cap this time. We are served with a thriller drama named ‘Wrong Side Raju’ inspired from ‘Vismay Shah hit and run case.’

Don’t Drink And Drive

Raju Bambani (Pratik Gandhi) is a driver by the day and teetotaller bootlegger by the night. He works as a chauffeur for city’s biggest lawyer cum industrialist Amitabh Shah’s (Asif Basra) son Vismay, err, Tanmay Shah (Kavi Shastri). Raju dreams of starting a travel agency. But his life takes a wrong turn when he finds himself as a prime suspect in a hit and run case which leaves two policemen dead and one man critically injured. But not before he falls in love with a gori ma’am Shaily (Kimberley Louisa McBeath). He does the Garba, roams around the city, drinks bootlegged French wine and weaves the rosy dreams of future with her. But for now, he has a herculean task to prove his innocence. You can expect many turns towards the climax.

More the messier

You should always reach cinema hall on time, even before the anti-smoking advisory starts playing. But for this movie, if you be a little late, don’t panic. By the time the makers finish thanking who’s who of Gujarat, you would comfortably make it to your seat.

As expected the movie starts with the accident, takes U-turn to tell the story of the protagonist Raju Bambani and keeps back and forth between past and present. The biggest strength of the movie is the lead actor Pratik Gandhi. He has a charming personality, very expressive eyes, excellent command over dialogue delivery, has perfect comic timing and literally lifts the whole movie on his shoulders. It’s a treat to watch him laughing, crying, romancing, dancing, being made a scapegoat and serving a new card every time he comes on the screen.

Music by Sachin-Jigar gives much-needed thrust to the movie. We have a song for each occasion.  Especially ‘Satrangi Re’ sung by Arijit Singh (which makes his first ever Gujarati song) and ‘Zindabad Re’ sung by Vishal Dadlani have come out really well. ‘WSR’ is one such album you can hear while stuck in city traffic. But alas, rest of the ride is too bumpy to enjoy.

I don’t know if the director, the editor and the writing team believe in the slogan ‘speed thrills but kills’, but the whole pace of the movie is too slow for a tight thriller. No one is in a hurry here. Policemen merrily enjoy whiskey (which is the evidence) in the police station itself, that too in cup-saucer! They ask bribe, discuss Gujarati translation of selfie, but rarely go out of the station. They say the case has become high profile and a national issue, but we hardly feel the race against the time. Even the big shot father doesn’t try to find his missing son. The First half of the movie, depicting a love story between Raju and Shaily, is cute to see but takes too much time to come to the point.

There is a courtroom drama after the interval, with a pleasant cameo of our own Siddharth Randeria aka ‘Gujjubhai’ but minus energy. Somehow Randeria looks tired and disinterested. This drama should have been more engaging than of ‘Jolly LLB’ which had the same storyline of hit and run case. But the whole courtroom sequence neither has energy, nor powerful dialogues, nor any memorable performances. This is a pity because we could see the names of some of Gujarat’s most known lawyers in starting slides. You can’t afford to hide the protagonists invisible for a significant time. All blame goes to the writing department.

The whole movie is so crowded with the hero, villain, police, everybody has their sidekicks. Even sidekicks have their own sidekick. There are so many direct product placements that you can learn which undergarments to buy, which edible oil to use, who sells best cakes in the city, which is the best heritage hotel to stay to name a few.

Policemen duo, played by very talented Jayesh More and Alok Gagdekar, try hard to be funny, menacing, wicked at the same time, but almost all of their lines fall completely flat.  The other cast members Makrand Shukla, Hetal Puniwala, Kenneth Desai, Ragi Jani are just ok. But yes, the seasoned actor Asif Basra in the role of a patriarch is amazing.

The whole movie is full of deafening background music and unnecessary jerky, handheld camera movements. The camera literally irritates in courtroom sequence. We are served with twist ending which comes unannounced and the logic goes for a toss.

Bumpy Ride

‘Wrong Side Raju’ is technically superior, but never gives the much-needed thrill, goose bumps, sense of urgency or proper message. It needed to go beyond ‘Shaitan’ and ‘Jolly LLB’, the Hindi movies made on the same subjects, but never comes even close. The things you remember after leaving the theater are a couple of songs and Pratik Gandhi.

Rating: ** (Two Stars)

(Published On DeshGujarat.Com)

Copyright © Jayesh Adhyaru. Please do not copy, reproduce this article without my permission. However, you are free to share this URL or the article with due credits.

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