Rating: 2/5 Stars
One would think that Bollywood has had enough of nationalistic films in an election year but no! Romeo Akbar Walter or ‘RAW’ as it spells out, is one of the many films that tell you it is a far better thing to love your country than anything else. Alright then!
It is for good reason that people were calling it the ‘male Raazi’ from the looks of its trailer. The final product is not very different. Directed by Robbie Garewal, the film panders to all the main stereotypes. Janab-Janabing Pakistanis. Standard actor who plays a Pakistani minister/officer in every film. A sacrificing hero and the idea that ‘motherland’ should mean to you more than your own mother. You get the gist.
The film begins with John Abraham’s character ‘Romeo Ali’s recruitment in RAW. He is sent to Pakistan on a spy mission and director Robbie Grewal manages to capture some authentic spycraft in this long and elaborate thriller. Though, to be fair, to call it a thriller would be too ambitious since there are only few sequences that genuinely build up tension and increase the element of mystery in the film. Most of the scenes and their outcomes are predictable and hence, stale.
But let's focus on the actual craft and narrative of the film. Ignoring the multiple misspelled Urdu words and the fact that no such city with the name of Liaquatabad exists in Pakistan – though there is an area in Karachi with the same name – one has to admire the other attention to detail. As Romeo Akbar Walter wobbles towards some semblance of a convincing plot line, there are some delicious elements to spycraft and warfare that will definitely interest you, if you’re a war history enthusiast. It has many essentials of a classic thriller but at the end of it you’re left a little – bored. Mainly because despite there being many profound moments that are intriguing, the extensive amount of high-beat scenes of our hero moving from this room to the other, sitting in this bus and the other – the formula becomes old. And expected.
It also doesn’t help that our protagonist Akbar Malik slash Romeo Ali is a sentimental fool. And Shraddha Sharma (Mouni Roy) and Akbar begin making out after Akbar remembers his mother. If that doesn’t say desi hero, I don’t know what does. (shudder)
Jackie Shroff, Mouni Roy and Sikander Kher do well as the supporting cast and the cinematography by Tapan Tushar Basu stop the film from being completely blasé. Unfortunately there are too many empty moments in the film that serve no purpose in building the narrative or causing the necessary build-up. While the film does not villainize or bash Pakistan for no reason, it definitely is problematic at times. It does a much better job, however, at portraying the enemy than ‘Uri: The Surgical Strike’.
If you are a spy film buff, you’ll definitely see the problems in this movie especially how it builds the climax and how it barely manages to keep your attention. However, if you want to know how Raazi would have looked like on testosterone, watch Romeo Akbar Walter.
Watch the video review here