Here’s another director who seems to have fallen prey to success. Tigmanshu Dhulia’s earlier works – from Haasil right up to Paan Singh Tomar – have been underlined with sincerity of script and story. On these he has pasted on layers such as solid performances and assured direction.
However, Bullett Raja is quite the opposite. Driven by commerce and a desire to connect with the masses, Dhulia has compromised on all the elements that gave his films their distinctive quality. Instead he has presented a mish-mash with only a few flashes of his original voice.
The strongest part of Bullett Raja is the bromance between Raja (Saif Ali Khan) and Rudra (Jimmy Shergill). Set in Uttar Pradesh, Raja and Rudra are like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – they share an immediate bond and crackling chemistry as they pair up to take on a common enemy.
Raja and Rudra brandish guns and shoot people at will, taking off on their Bullet right after. First they take on their enemies and then they become pawns for a local minister. They are feared and revered. Both the actors are also rather good, until Sonakshi Sinha walks into their lives. From here on, barring the scene when Raja is holding Mitali (Sinha) and Bajaj (Gulshan Grover) hostage (Ali Khan’s penchant for comedy is superbly seen here), the film begins to skid out of control.
Some songs are punched in and are rather incongruous to the plot. The first is a ghastly item number by the graceless Mahie Gill and the second is the disco song ‘Tamanche pe disco’ stuck in soon after Shergill makes a speech about Maharashtrians living peacefully in Uttar Pradesh. Dhulia then takes the action to Kolkata and presents almost every stereotype of Bengal and Bengalis.
Only one interesting device in the script is the interjecting of different adversaries for Raja and Rudra – played by Chunky Pandey, Gulshan Grover, Ravi Kishan (in drag), Vidyut Jamwal and Raj Babbar.
Post-interval just about anything seems to be happening in the film. The incomprehensible editing adds to the chaotic screenplay and Sajid-Wajid’s music is unexpectedly mediocre. Certain dialogues do crackle but it cannot make up for the lack of story, for Ali Khan’s plunging necklines perhaps designed to distract from his character’s shallowness and Sinha’s typecasting as a desi damsel in distress. Thank god for Shergill. And for super cop Munna played by Jamwal. Maybe the bromance between Munna and Raja is material for another film?