Cast: Rahul Khanna, Sharman Joshi, Jimmy Sheirgill and Tanushree Dutta
Director: Anurag Singh
Producer: Raj Kanwar
Awkward and affected. That is what Producer Raj Kanwar and Director Anurag Singh’s venture ‘Raqueeb’ is.
The film starring Rahul Khanna, Sharman Joshi, Jimmy Sheirgill and Tanushree Dutta is a suspense thriller that does manage to keep you awake with its twists and turns, if nothing else. The film tells a tale of love, jealousy, revenge and twisted fates. Interesting but in a dramatic style that is slightly over the top. In its bid to become pacy the film is hurried and in a bid to pack masala, content, suspense, romance, emotions et al it becomes a pot pourri. A good attempt is the best compliment it will receive.
Raqueeb is not bad because it is a bad example of bad film-making. In fact its not. Some of the elements in the film are handled quite well. The screenplay does justice to the evocation of suspense and so does the shot-taking. Where Raqueeb falters is its premise. The word ‘raqueeb’ means rivals in love, something that the tag line of the film clarifies. Rivalry in love is also the background and foreground of the film. But it’s not the pivot. It is not the central motivation. It does not explore rivalry in love, just uses rivals to tell another story completely. That is the where the film loses its meaning. A fabulous premise wasted at the altar of the age-old revenge plot.
Having set the perspective of the film in the direction it takes the audience, let us now look at other aspects within this construct. Discussing what could have been is a futile exercise in wish fulfillment, unfair to the film and film-maker.
The film scores on the tightness of the screenplay. It is essential for a suspense thriller to lay clues and reveal truths with equal amount of dexterity. That this film does crisply. But sadly it is unaided by the other elements like acting, editing, sound design and even cinematography.
A suspense thriller based on revenge is a personal story. The film has justifiable motivations of the characters portrayed through fairly well-thought machinations. The association of Shakespeare’s work in sprinklings of names and actions adds another interesting layer to the story. There are, nevertheless certain unanswered questions about the screenplay that make the build up to the final revelation look immature.
Despite all this, the film is a lost proposition because of the acting. The main drawback of the film is amateurish and shallow acting. Sharman is a lively performer and keeps the action happening but the polish is missing. That takes away most of his charm. He portrays the drastic change in his character pretty smoothly though and is more watchable then. Jimmy looks the frustrated, antagonistic struggling actor he plays but does not feel it. He looks unconvinced by what he is supposed to do and sadly, passes on the feeling to the audience. He is a sensitive actor. He is better when he stays away from limited dimensional dramas like these.
Rahul Khanna is strictly average in what he does. As the shy, introvert man he is cute. But he fails to pull off the enormous angst behind his character.
Tanushree Dutta, is supposed to be the cynosure of everyone’s eyes in the film. In fact, there are multiple mentions of her incredible beauty but all she looks in the film is heavily and tackily made up. Not to mention fat and badly dressed. Definitely not someone to kill over! And about her acting skills, the less said the better.
On the technical side, artful play of light and shade could have raised the film to another level. Editing was a bit of a let down and the sound design was very over-emphasizing. One really does not have to hear every sip of tea and gulp of air in Dolby stereo nor does every crash have to resound like thunder. Music is strictly average again. The songs have some interesting and meaningful lyrics but less than hummable tunes. Background score again is too loud and over-emphasizes every action/emotion.
Despite its efforts to shine, the film leaves you wondering when the era of low budget films will end.