Director - Dinesh Vijan
Starring – Sushant Singh Rajput, Kriti Sanon, Jim Sarbh, Varun Sharma and Rajkummar Rao
Rating - 2 out of 5
The punar janam katha (reincarnation story) in Hindi cinema is as new as its kumbh-mela- lost twin brothers with twin tattoo marks tale. The most recent being the very forgettable Mirzya by Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra. But how does a Bollywood reincarnation become any different in a Dinesh Vijan- Homi Adajania- Bhushan Kumar film?
Like every film in this genre, Raabta has the usual reincarnation story elements – dreams, prophecies, comets, death wishes, an old seer in the form of Rajkummar Rao, wasted in this tiny role (who, over layers of his make-up and makeover and half bent for his 100 plus years, wears a funny looking fur coat). The film also has an over-dressed Hindi speaking Indian fortune teller in a Jewish house in Budapest!
There are some spooky elements to the film and it is not in the period costumes, dark kohl lined make-up or when the story shifts to the past eras. It is when Kriti Sanon’s character Saira, funnily speaks to the mirror because she believes her own reflection to be that of her dead mom and dad. I am still trying to figure that out.
Also, Indian period films recently seem to have the main protagonist wear their hair in a top bun with embellishments and kohl lined eyes. Maybe it makes them look more intense – but why is it that, whenever the past is shown in this film, there is little laughter – everyone is at war and all are very serious. The fun is only in the present!
The difference in the film is the main ‘hero’, as Sushant’s character loves to call himself – (someone who doesn’t stop at self-praise from the start to the end) and is scarily sure of himself. Every time he is confronted with a man who is ready to steal his girlfriend, he says, “Ladki toh mai hi le jaunga.” Even after she is engaged! But this macho cockiness looks good on Sushant Singh because he refuses to add to the typecasts of the film – he not only infuses energy into his Punjabi munda character, but he is also honest to his role as the clueless guy who cannot understand reincarnation. The leggy Kriti Sanon is pretty and predictable. The duo address each other in a ‘tu’ which might be endearing or bothersome to people depending on how much they like the stars.
To be fair, most of us, who have marvelled at the likes of reincarnation films such as Karz, Om Shanti Om, Madhumati, Mahal, Neel Kamal, Kudrat and Karan-Arjun, have laughed off Mirziya and Love Story 2050. Raabta comes somewhere in the middle. It tries to toe the line by not shrugging off reincarnation totally.
Jim Sarbh seems out of place in this Bollywood film – he clearly belongs to another space and seems to have been mistakenly planted here. His character as an eccentric, obsessive lover has depth and variation (he even sings Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi si in a strange accent at all strange circumstances) but is lost in the colourful Bollywood canvas.
Raabta has all the right ingredients of a ‘much seen’ Bollywood film – the abs, the legs, the looks, the songs, the locations, a solo dance number ( I refuse to call it an ‘item number’) with Deepika Padukone and the reincarnation story.
It is a Sushant Singh film all the way and all those who like him will find it endearing and fun. For the rest, it is a chance you might want to take.