Free Press Journal

Movie Review: Raman Raghav 2.0 – Dangerously compelling!

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Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, 

Director: Anurag kashyap

Rating: * * * ½


Runtime: 127 mins

Ace director Anurag Kashyap’s latest is a psycho thriller that luridly draws it’s fire from two tormented souls that are central to the story. In a way, this grisly, gruesome film could be looked at as a contemporary rendering of a page out of Mumbai’s history- the 41 heinous acts of murder committed by a demented psychopathic Raman Raghav in the late 1960’s. This film which premiered at the Cannes festival’s sidebar ‘Director’s Fortnight’ is inspired by those incidents but is set in contemporary Mumbai and follows the trail of Ramana(Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and his bête noire Raghavan(Vicky Kaushal) , a cop who is hot on his trail. On the one hand Ramanna kills like he eats and sleeps, whenever the urge is upon him while on the other, Raghavan, a cop with a drug habit and a night life, is fighting his own mental demons. Ramanna bludgeons his victims with an L Shaped metal pipe like his ideal used to while Raghavan, in the throes of all the highs and lows of an abuser, is just as out of control as the man he is pursuing. Ramanna understands the need for a soul mate and has zeroed in on his while Raghavan, sleepless in Mumbai, hasn’t been able to make much progress on that front. A steady sex partner in Simmi(Shobita Dhulipala), an escort, does not bring on the urge to settle down. So the restless soul roams the streets of Mumbai in search of salvation. Ramanna’s depravity extends to killing his sister, her husband and their son. Will  Raghavan redeem himself and settle down as his parents expect or is it downhill for him from hereon? Does Ramanna get his just rewards eventually? Both questions are answered at the end where Kashyap pulls off a trick of sorts.

This is indeed a difficult film to sit through- indeed a nasty effort at obsessive urban nihilism. Divided into several chapters( a la Quentin Tarantino) the narrative runs through several heinous, brutal killings before the story really starts beginning to take shape. In fact the opening sequence has Ramanna confessing to a series of murders but the police rubbish his claims because they do not have a record of more than two on their books. That in fact lets the demented soul loose enough to go on a killing spree. The gory details are left out but the suggestive quality of the scenes leave you brutalized.

The pace is brisk, the screenplay is quite tight knit and the performances make you believe in the depravity on show. A few slip-ups take away from the cleverness of the script but the overall impact is unassailable. Sitting through this film feels like being beaten up black and blue. By the end of it, you just want to rush out of the theatre hoping that your sensea, faculties and body parts are still intact. The  benumbed affect of the telling  is quite overwhelming.

Nawazuddin is breathtaking as the demented killer, Vicky Kaushal is as effective a foil as the script allows for, Shobita Dhulipala makes good in her very first outing on the big screen while Amruta Subhash and Vipin Sharma add the required complexity using their accomplished skill sets to good effect. Jay Oza’s outstanding camerawork, Aarti Bajaj’s unobtrusive editing and Ram Sampath’s eerie score add weight to this darkly compelling drama. Costumes and production design are first rate too. This film is certain to suit horror fans even though the blood and gore are minimal. The fear factor comes from the treatment and performances and that’s quite a potent combination. This may not be Anurag Kashyap’s most accomplished work yet but it certainly ranks as amongst his best.