Ra.One : Partly In Defense of SRK

Monday, October 31, 2011

For a nation that savors trash such as Ready and Bodyguard, Ra.One shouldn’t be an untouchable. I saw the 3-D version of it and before I get into the details, let me play the Devil’s advocate and argue that Ra.One isn’t as bad as some people are making it out to be. 

If you watch it as any other children’s film, you will not trash it as much as you do it now. In fact you will appreciate SRK for spending so much on a children’s film. The VFX is better than any of the Bollywood films. The action is not juvenile, though watching the romance king SRK in a superhero’s garb is! Ra.One is undoubtedly a film that takes the use of visual effects in Bollywood cinema to another level. The songs are good (a must for Hindi films), SRK and Kareena have acted their parts well and Arjun Rampal impresses in his “cameo” as the main antagonist Ra.One. Several of these pluses helped Ra.One sell its satellite rights for 35 crore and distribution rights in excess of 77 crore. The holiday weekend ensured that Ra.One garnered enough to stay afloat solidly at the BO. On what basis, then, should we trash SRK’s dream project?    

I must admit that I felt that the film rides purely on the basis of marketing gimmicks. That is probably its biggest undoing. SRK has been all over the place in the last couple of months talking about Ra.One being the next best thing to have happened to Bollywood. That raised the expectations. People went in hordes to see the “change” that he was speaking about only to find themselves surrounded by a web of complex plot, poor direction and shoddy script (if it existed!).

Ra.One is a superhero film that stretches for three hours. Had it been all about the thrill, I would have relished it but a lot of the screen time was spent in catering to the inanities that constitute a typical Bollywood film. There was a comic sub-plot involving Satish Shah that was not only unnecessary but also retarded the film’s progress. The opening scene with Priyanka Chopra and Sanjay Dutt was intended to attract audiences but it only left them yawning even before the film took off. There was this last scene in the film that involved SRK’s son working on the HART of G.One to bring him back to life that made the job of creating superheroes look all too simple. It gave me a feeling that if a 10 year old can do it, so can I! That took the sheen off the superhero G.One.

Arjun Rampal who was supposed to be the main antagonist was reduced to playing a cameo role. I would have loved to see him in the chase scene in the film involving Kareena and SRK’s screen son. But that was not to be. The climax was a dud. When you build the atmosphere for a grand climax in the first 2.5 hours only to hand out a hurriedly executed end with no punch, tell me how can you be lauded for that? The 3-D is the biggest dampener. I can’t recall a single scene with genuine 3-D effect. That’s simply fooling the audience SRK!

Ra.One comes at a time when SRK bashing has become one of India’s favorite pastime. As a nation we revel in creating icons and then pulling them down their own pedestal. SRK is passing through a similar phase. Salman and Aamir have taken over the mantle in terms of BO returns in the recent past and Ranbir Kapoor looks set to be the next lover boy on screen. Much of it probably has to do with the self proclamation of SRK as the Badshah of Bollywood time and again. As Indians we like our heroes to be modest or pretending to be modest. If they are not, we change them at the first opportune moment. Hope this change is not rapid in case of this man who has given us the biggest romantic film (DDLJ) of our lives.

Performance wise you cannot fault SRK. As a producer he is top notch. What fails him is the absence of a good script and direction. Anubhav Sinha’s ship seems rudderless. I guess that is the reason why SRK invested so much on its marketing knowing fully well that Ra.One didn’t have much to speak about itself. The songs in the film are good. Especially Akon’s tracks but the same cannot be said about the choreography. Chammak Challo has been ringing in our ears from time immemorial but its signature step still hasn’t registered all that well.

All said and done, Ra.One may not be a losing business proposition for SRK but it has failed to satisfy the demanding audience on the creative front. Hopefully SRK will have a chance to redeem himself soon with Don II.

For the people who have decided to still watch it for SRK, just do it and get done with it. And if you go, please don’t go for the 3-D version and then cry over the overspent moolah like I did!


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