“Raabta” – Chemistry, visuals and headache-inducing banality!
Towards the interval of Raabta, on a rainy evening, Saira (Kriti Sanon) goes on a lavish date with Zac (Jim Sarbh). With a lusty version of ‘Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi’ forming background score, they have a helluva time by the end of which she declares, “I have never felt this way with anyone. I wouldn’t have known if it weren’t for you,” Wait, isn’t this the same line she spouted when a more-talkative (read creepy) Shiv (Sushant Singh Rajput) stalked her all around Budapest? This happened barely a fortnight ago.
It is not Raabta‘s tedious Befikre-ness that fails to connect. Given how clueless our filmmakers are about the youth of today, that is quite a given. Raabta misfires badly in how it has no sense of place. Picture this – A story set in Budapest, where everyone speaks Hindi as if it the city’s official language. There is also a reincarnation angle that takes you to another la la land, where people dress up as Game of Thrones characters while uttering chaste Hindi.
Writer Siddharth-Garima rely too much on contrivances to knit the plot together. In a one-off, disconnected scene, the film takes you to a shady Jewish house where a mysterious-looking woman (who seems some kind of an astrologer) makes prophecies on Saira’s life. What we eventually get is a half-baked reincarnation drama which is as unimaginative as certain 2D animation series for children.
If developed with care, Raabta could have been an intimate tale where two youngsters (Sanon, Sarbh) interpret their nightmares. Reincarnation, by itself, contains umpteen possibilities – none of which are milked by the writers and the debutant director Dinesh Vijan. In a long sequence that forms the pre-climax, we see Saira explaining the whole mystery to Shiv. Her narration is similar to a kindergarten teacher telling a folk tale to her students. Shiv reciprocates like an adorable mother whose child retells the same story at home. The film suffers this severe lack of confidence to its own material, which ultimately trickles down to the audience. It is just so hard to take Raabta seriously.
Having said that, Raabta too has its high points. The film engages from the point where the good-looking couple (Shiv-Saira) attempts to stray. The momentum continues till Shiv’s return to the city after a week-long conference. By the way, he is a banker who hardly seems like one. The film picks up in momentary fashion (worth mentioning is Deepika Padukone, in the film’s paisa vasool moment) and is quick to crash down to absolutely banality. Even the rushed climax does no good in convincing us of the complicated enterprise. It is almost as if we feel bad for the antagonist.
Sushant Singh Rajput is earnest as the narcissist Shiv, despite his tendency to go overboard in comic scenes. Kriti Sanon is a fine actor and performs better than Rajput if you overlook her Delhi-bred tongue struggling in the past portions. Jim Sarbh is good in parts, bizarre in the rest. Varun Sharma does the sidekick part very well. Then again, this is a template character we are all so bored of. We also don’t understand why Rajkummar Rao dons truckloads of makeup to look like an aged Vijay Raaz when the makers could have easily hired the latter.
To sum it up, Raabta‘s romantic portions induce an actual headache despite some gorgeous visuals (DOP: Martin Preiss) and even better sizzle between the leads. The story picks up towards the interval and maintains a pace without ever convincing us of its crux. Its half-humourous, half-magnificent storytelling perplexes us no end. Upon spotting Rajput in his primitive avatar, one of the audience members comment, “That’s a lovely braid,” Later when he brings a bottle of water for Saira upon being washed upon a random beach, they unanimously roar with laughter. Can we blame them at all?