Kunal Deshmukh’s Emraan Hashmi–Paresh Rawal starrer does one thing right – it follows the con-film formula to the letter. This also means that there are often scams and plot points that come across as all too familiar – probably seen in Hollywood films that do this genre so well.
What ‘Raja Natwarlal’ also does is show that Emraan Hashmi has come a long way since his last outing with Deshmukh. His on-screen presence and handle on his character, the fast-talking con artist Raja, is streets ahead of Akshay from Jannat 2, for example.
Writers Parveez Sheikh and Sanjay Masoom combine staple Deskhmukh interests – action, intrigue, cricket, songs, South African locales and a bimbo-ish girlfriend who foils the grand plan in this story of the long-con (lamba haat) devised as the ultimate act of vengeance. When Raja loses his best friend and brother Raghav (Deepak Tijori enjoying a brief on-screen resurrection) to the gun of crooked businessman Varda Yadav (Kay Kay Menon), he swears revenge. But Raja cannot do this without the help of Yogi (Paresh Rawal), a recluse in Himachal Pradesh who is reputed to be the best con-man around.
Yogi and Raja team up to execute a complex con that involves so many players you wonder how the target never twigged that he was being lured into a trap.
Raja’s one distraction is Ziya, a dance bar girl who he wants to make into an honest woman. Humaima Malik, clearly desperate to make a mark in Bollywood, overacts but is passable nonetheless. Paresh Rawal ably leads the team of supporting actors, who are mostly convincing.
Deshmukh’s canvas is drab with the costumes working over-time to compensate for the dull environment and cinematography.
Kay Kay Menon as the cricket-obsessed bad guy is reduced to a caricature in three-piece suits. Yadav’s due diligence before investing in a cricket team is so poor that he gets conned, simply because of his blind passion for the sport. Absurd? Indeed. But then ‘Raja Natwarlal’ is based on ‘con’venience and coincidences rather than a clever plot or smartly thought out con. And every now and then a song is inserted to give you enough time to question the glaring holes in the script.