23 Mar 2018

Raid: A Good, Engaging Drama That Lacks Edginess

An honest, soft-spoken income tax officer Amey Patnaik (Ajay Devgn) raids powerful and feared politician Rameshwar Singh aka Tauji's (Saurabh Shukla) "White House" with his huge team and police personnel in tow, on an anonymous tip, sometime in 1981. That is the straight-forward plot of the film.

Inspired by true events, Raid has a solid, focused premise for gritty, razor-sharp drama with a huge, largely underutilized ensemble cast. Director Raj Kumar Gupta (No One Killed JessicaAamir) creates many great moments, hero-villain face-offs and decent suspense, and we get a fairly engaging film from start to finish.

Wanted: Trimmed Song Sequences, Better Characterisation, and Editing
If the film doesn't rise to be a potential classic, the pacing, editing, rhythm and a couple of redundant song interruptions are to blame. Sharper editing, especially in the second half, would have given us a far more superior film.

Also, key plot twists are brushed over, and not explained in detail. The raid scenes, the income tax team dynamics, the politician's family, the main plot reveal required greater inventiveness and command in direction and writing.

A couple of plot liberties rankle. Especially the part when Amey allows Tauji to leave the house is so against logic and character, and merely a contrived build-up to the mob climax. The mob attack, the car ambush, the final escape required more bubbling tension.

Solid Lead Performances, Some Hazily Written Roles 
But there is much to admire here. Ajay Devgn is subtle and effectively toned down as Amey, a performance of assured, honed craft. Saurabh Shukla is superb as the arrogant Tauji. But it is Pushpa Joshi as Tauji's undeterred mother who is a surprise, hilarious standout. The talented Amit Sial (of Titli fame) gets little subtext to build on his negative role, his Lallan is played up for laughs. Writing gaps also show up in Ileana D'Cruz's portrayal of Amey's 'angelic', seemingly unaffected, and supportive wife Malini.

At a little over 2 hours, Raid arrives at its main premise too early, doesn't tie the loose ends well, but never loses steam either. It is a decent drama and as an audience, it is surely worth a watch for the sincere, mildly inspired attempt.

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