Bollywood Film Review “Raabta”

    

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE

First, the Recap:

The eternal ocean of love. The one facet of our existence that does indeed seem to find its way through the ebbs and flows of the corridors within our hearts, minds, and souls, transcending all other emotions, a conquering force that compels us to take on even the most daunting of tasks for the sake of one we’ve given our heart to. Yet, in this seamless transition of love’s grasp from age to age, what if one choice could change the tide, the fate, of one heart’s destiny? In our contemporary world, it is love at first sight for suave playboy Shiv (Sushant Singh Rajput) while taking on a new job opportunity in Budapest when he enters the chocolate shop of a girl named Saira (Kriti Sanon).

Finding an instant connection with her, with Saira additionally having a sense of familiarity with Shiv from a recurring nightmare/dream, the two begin a flirtatious and passionate affair, even in the face of other circumstances that would seem to push them apart. However, when a wealthy, enigmatic stranger named Zakir (Jim Sarbh) appears and likewise seems to have an all-too-intense attraction to Saira, to the point of obsession and taking drastic action to possess her. In this happening, it transports Saira’s mind back into a previous life where she was known as Saiba, promised to a warrior named Kaabir (Sarbh), but ultimately falling for a rival tribe’s leader Jilaan (Rajput).

As events are revealed from the past, it ushers in the realization that it is all destined to repeat its outcome, unless one of them can make a choice to change the path of providence.

Next, my Mind:

Presenting another tale centered on the perpetual immortality of love contained within the context of a commonly explored theme in Indian cinema, reincarnation, director/co-producer Dinesh Vijan’s 157-minute project is both an exercise in beauty and frustration for this reviewer. I am admittedly a constant sucker for a great love story that is presented in such ways, as it adds that mystical/fantastical element to it via the characters from the past finding themselves again in their modern states of existence, knowing they feel that inexorable draw to each other, which here is played out in a mix of frivolity, deep drama, and a teasing innocence that captures you. Add in the wrinkle with the negative character’s volatility and disruptive presence and you find yourself rooting for the outcome you know you hope is coming. However, the film’s first act building up to the second, and hence the revelations of the past, takes too long to get to, bogging the film down, stretching the tolerance of the fair couple’s courtship to a borderline annoying level. It’s cute, it’s fun, but could have been portrayed and moved on with narrative-wise with better overall pacing without losing the intended plot points or mood/tone.

The film does soar, however, on the strengths of its individual performers and the chemistry they share. Rajput is a perfect picture of boyish charm and humorous smugness as Shiv, a successful banker and tireless womanizer who we initially could not remotely see having the ability to settle down. But once he sets eyes on Saira, that changes in an instant, and his relentless and highly playful pursuit of her is quite entertaining. Likewise, in the past life sequences where he plays Muraaki warrior Jilaan, Rajput excels with intensity and fervent prowess. My first experience seeing the gorgeous Sanon was no disappointment, as she completely embodies Saira, presenting her as a strong-willed young woman who doesn’t allow herself to get all mushy over Shiv immediately, yet cannot explain why she feels so inexplicably drawn to him. Also seeing the ever-tumultuous dream/nightmares she is embattled by adds the mystery to her story that begs to be explored, and ultimately is, with Sanon being strongly emotive in enacting the weight of the past’s unveiling. As warrior princess Saiba, Sanon’s fire and vigor are deftly presented as well, an apropos pairing of demeanor to her modern day counterpart.

Sarbh chews up scenery as the film’s primary negative character Zakir, a wealthy and ultra-confident figure whose just as unhinged as he is charismatic in his crazed preoccupation with Saira, only explained when we truly see the depth of his intent for her displayed in the past as the warrior Kaabir. His drive and insistence of having Saira at all costs is well played by Sarbh, just as fierce as the magnitude of his desire and ambitions to claim Saiba is long ago. Supporting roles are solidly acted out by Varun Sharma, Satendra Bagasi, Rajkummar Rao, Rahul Kholi, and others.  Plus, a beautifully executed title dance sequence is provided via an equally beautiful cameo by Deepika Padukone. In total, albeit with its well-done character renderings, music/dance sequences, and abiding themes of choices that change the stars and love overcoming all, “Raabta” still could have been an even more epic level study in Bollywood’s cinematic aptitude had it’s slightly overblown first act been pared down just a bit.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!

 

 

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