Bollywood movie review: Saif Ali Khan manages to pump it up for ‘Bullet Raja’

Saif Ali Khan’s played numerous parts, but none as impactful as the conniving Langda Tyagi in Vishal Bharadwaj’s desi take on Shakespeare’s Othello – ‘Omkara’. He might have resorted to playing his suave, charming self in his recent movies, but none matched Langda’s menacing achievements.

And that’s probably why he chose to return to the rustic bylanes of the notorious UP terrains to play a trigger-happy goon.

Only, here the rouge Raja isn’t as ambitious as Langda, and waits for life’s tragedies to trigger him off. His ‘Bullet Raja’ would rather abandon his infamous adventures to take up a normal job and look after his family.

Destiny, however, had other plans for him.

He and his new-found, best-bud Rudra get roped into a string of attacks and counter-attacks, playing what director Tigmanshu Dhulia brands as “political commandoes”.

The bromance is on full throttle, and when they aren’t dancing or busy expanding their gangs, they are busy pumping bullets into all and sundry.

It’s an endearing friendship, no doubt, and one that even finds similarity to the legendary ‘Sholay’ pals, but Dhulia’s inability to create enough zest in their life leaves us detached after a point.

Probably the massive blow Dhulia causes at the end of part 1 had something to do with ‘Bullet Raja’s mighty fall.

While his genius is evident, not just in his narrative, but also in his dialogues, it’s unfortunate his screenplay doesn’t match up.

He and Amaresh Misra pen an incredible story around botherhood, but mid-way they lose steam and embark on a rather tedious blood battle that highlights an-eye-for-an-eye-leaves-everyone-blind theory. Only Dhulia manages to tweak this, but his efforts are half-baked and not executed with honesty.

In fact, the end is rather predictable, even though Dhulia would have wished otherwise.

His big exposure in the grand finale, however, isn’t explained adequately, making his attempt rather lame and exaggerated.

He's also guilty of puncturing his story with innumerable songs, some that aren’t even pleasing to the ear.

The star of the ‘Bullet Raja’ brigade is undoubtedly Jimmy Sheirgill. He’s incredible talented and wins us over as the loyal Rudra. There’s never a moment, nor an emotion, that Jimmy doesn’t get right.

Saif, unfortunately, comes a close second. If only his expression were as colourful as his silk shirts and linen kurtas, he would have owned his place in the spotlight. Sadly, the excessive botox jabs leaves his expressions frozen, never really allowing us to understand his real sentiments.

That said, he does walk away with some killer lines. “I do not tolerate vulgarity in religious matters,” or “I’m not a hunter because I don’t kill animals, I only invoke the animal instincts in them”. And, he mouths them with remarkable panache, reminding us of his fun days with the boys in Farhan Akhtar’s ‘Dil Chahta Hai’.

Even his flirtations are charming, and we believe him when he announces his glorious achievements as a man who hooked up with 154 women. The 155th girl is the one we meet in 'Bullet Raja'.

There’s also the amusing encounters with the baddies that Saif plays with aplomb. His quirky, competitive personality emerges as he joins Rudra in executing the men on their hit-list. Alas, these are far too few.

His rustic flavour also takes a backseat, with his accent coming on and off at random, creating an obvious disconnect with Raja.

Among the baddies, and there are quite a few of them here, seasoned actors Chunky Pandey, Raj Babbar, Gulshan ‘bad man’ Grover and Ravi Kishen pack a punch. Only, they are unable to stand out in this maddening crowd. Each plays his part earnestly, but the lack of a well-etched-out character sketch harms their efforts considerably.

Vidyut Jamal also enters the battle ground and flexes his muscle considerably, but his stony expression and staccato dialogue delivery leaves him wooden and unappealing.

The women, and there are only two here, are pretty, but Dhulia doesn’t give them much to do apart from dancing. Sonakshi Sinha’s the Bengali girl who wins Raja over, and dances with him at a Mumbai club, while Mahie Gill is the one who flirts with him after her item dance.

Sinha sleepwalks through her part as the pretty girl, while Mahie plays her staple role as a needy woman. It’s really tragic that their true potential isn’t explored. 

While Dhulia deserves applause for attempting to create a quirky action thriller, he doesn't nail it.

Even though the last-part turns out into an incoherent mess, the first-half is immensely entertaining. We only wish that tone was maintained till the very end. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

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