For the longest time, the unassuming Emraan Hashmi was content playing tricks with his lips, wearing the title of “serial kisser” with glee. An image he shockingly abandoned in Dibakar Banerjee’s rustic ‘Shanghai’.
He, however, followed it up with ‘Rush’ and ‘Raaz3’ the same year, swiftly quashing his sole acting achievement as a probable fluke. Then, there was ‘Ek Thi Dayan’ and ‘Ghanchakkar’, which weren’t money spinners but which gave him more footing as an actor of repute.
With ‘Raja Natwarlal’, Emraan slips back into his infamous screen image, with his filmmaker-pal Kunal Deshmukh unable to give him a befitting part to step up his game.
While content wasn’t never top on their agenda, what with the duo’s ‘Jannat’, ‘Jannat2’ and ‘Tum Mile’ making money despite making little sense for most reviewers, their latest movie appeared of wanting to amend that flaw.
Hinting at their desire for new beginnings, the duo decided to give Emraan’s film-producer-uncles Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt the slip, and join forces with UTV Motion Pictures. A script that pays tribute to one of India’s biggest-ever conman (Natwarlal) worked as a clever story to begin with, and they roped in seasoned actors Kay Kay Menon and Paresh Rawal to give them enough backing.
‘Raja Natwarlal’ crumbles in the execution.
Despite attempting to borrow some tactics from Neeraj Pandey’s much-applauded ‘Special 26’, Kunal’s efforts appear illogical and incoherent, leaving his handful of men fight it out without much cause. He’s earnest, no doubt, but he isn’t too clever to hoodwink the audience.
His Raja, although suave and snazzy, appears unworthy of filling the shoes of the legendary conman Natwarlal, who “sold” the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort, and the Indian Parliament House with all its members intact.
Kunal’s Raja is busy singing in the rain or serenading his pretty dancer-girl-friend, when not attempting to make a quick buck on the sly. He’s ably assisted by dear friend Raghav in his infamous pursuits. Their targets are small, and their win seemingly insufficient, which leads them to looting the notorious don Yadav.
Their win is soon snatched away, and a life cut short, forcing a broken Raja to escape into the mountains to find the elusive Yogi to help him settle scores.
A team is set, and a game plan drawn. And, the men wait their turn to beat Yadav at his own game, manipulating his passion for cricket.
While it makes for a great story, Parveez Shaikh’s writing isn’t clever enough to pull it off. A flaw that Shaikh’s earlier ‘Ghanchakkar’ also suffered from. The extraordinary ‘Queen’ was an exception, but the credit was shared with director Vikas Bhal and Chaitally Parmar.
Too many songs slow down the pace of 145-minute-long narrative. While music is a Bollywood staple, there are some genres like these, that beg to remain untouched by music.
Pakistani actress Humaima Malick, who makes her Bollywood (dance) debut sways and boogies without a care in the world, and skillfully flashes her toned body through every frame. For a start, she’s got what most girls dream of – love, songs, item numbers, nice costumes, and little care for revenge or blood.
Deepak Tijori makes a decent comeback as an actor with the devoted Raghav. Although it’s a far cry from his older movies ‘Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa’, ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander’ and ‘Aashiqui’, it’s still a fair attempt.
There’s also current Bollywood favourite Deepika Padukone and iconic dramedy queen Nirupama Roy who make a unlikely pair, but a crazy non-speaking cameo. It’s one of the finest moments in the movie, which appear in the first few minutes. What follows, however, is unwitty and lackluster. A little more effort and it could’ve turned ‘Raja Natwarlal’ into something wickedly spectacular.