Director: Rajkumar Gupta
Starring: Ajay Devgn, Ileana Dcruz, Saurabh Shukla
Raid is a period crime thriller that combines two of India’s longest raids conducted in 1981 and 1989, throwing the much needed light on the unsung heroes, the income tax officers who carried out the raids.
Though largely brilliant and engaging, the film sadly fails to recreate the inhuman, humiliating and abusive treatment that our officers received in 1989 when they conducted these raids at businessmen Harish Chhabra and Anupam Swarup’s residences and offices. The real taxmen were beaten up by iron rods and, in words of deputy income tax commissioner Pankaj Gupta, they ‘were thrown around like football.’ It was also reported how officials were stripped naked and so badly beaten up, that they had to beg for clothes before they made their way to Meerut.
The film steers clear from any of these details and heavily focuses on the shock value of the raids, the crazy amounts of cash and jewelry stashed in Rameshwar Singh’s house and the humor thrown in with some delectable characters. There is a Ramu Kaka, the quintessential house help in the eighties. There is also an eager to please corrupt officer called Lallan. There is a delirious grandmother who lands with the funniest lines and moments in the film. Shocked at the amount of cash and gold tumbling out during the raid, she complains, how her sons, despite being so wealthy, never got her operated for her kidney stones problem.
These light hearted moments, on one hand, work very well for the film, to bring in the right amount of humor and ease to an otherwise grim subject. It makes the film thoroughly entertaining. On the other hand, it slightly dilutes the heroic efforts of our officials.
In fact, in its attempt to be a popular film, it ends up plugging a lazily written love track and songs that have hardly any meaning. Scenes where Ajay Devgn pledges to save his team, kisi pe aanch nahi aane dunga or where Tauji threatens the entire family to reveal who the deceiver is, mercilessly shoving jalebis down her old mother’s throat, are plain manipulative. These scenes are meant to paint the saint and the evil in broad strokes of white and black, strangely coming from a lazy brush (pen) of an otherwise brilliant Ritesh Shah. Though in his defense, there are some clever lines on patriotism and sundry.
The cast of the film is cleverly done. Ajay Devgn is straight serious faced in most parts. Ileana D’cruz is natural and easy and looks gorgeous.
Saurabh Shukla is an interesting choice to play the corrupt politician. He is menacing and evil. His appearance reeks of his uneducated barbarism and uncouthness. Yet he manages to lend bits of humor and humanity through his stupendous acting skills.
The film is largely gripping. The subject is well chosen and creates an awareness about our heroic tax officials. It will make for an entertaining, educating watch this weekend, however, I wish it dealt with it a tad more seriously.