Friday, October 28, 2011

NEW: Ra.One dazzles with visuals, not plot; still a fun watch

Many — dare I say most — reviews out on Ra.One are resoundingly negative. From my perspective, Shahrukh Khan has the ability to divide audiences like no other star. There have been no reviews of “Ra.One” that hit the middle of the road. Reviewers so far have loved or hated it. It’s really developed in my consciousness lately that Shahrukh is considered the King of Bollywood outside of India/overseas, and Salman is the most-beloved Khan domestically. SRK has a charm that astoundingly transcends language but can’t reach some large sections of India.

Still, I’m astounded at the negativity the film was received with and partially blame it on the Khan divide. But apart from that, let’s move onto the film. You can read my review for the newspaper here.

To start, I will say I was somewhat disappointed. But as I said before, I kind of expected that to happen because the film was built up so much.

For a quick breakdown, here’s on a scale of one to five what I thought of the film:
SRK: 4
Kareena: 5
Arjun Rampal: 5
Plot: 2
Flow: 3
Visual effects: 5
Originality: 4
Songs: 5
Living up to the hype: 3

You may have noted that I was less than impressed with the plot. It had some pretty gaping holes — instead of killing Ra.One with the first chance, G.One doesn’t destroy the H.A.R.T. and allows Ra.One to come back. No one explains why. Things like that. The flow was also choppy, especially in the beginning.

Plot holes are one of those things that most action films tend to have at least one of, and Ra.One just lives up to the average there. But the originality of the story (for Bollywood at the very least) was nice, and it managed to blend some of the usual Hindi film things into it pretty well — like the fabulous songs! I really do fully enjoy the Ra.One soundtrack, even if it is no Rockstar. (The scene that Bhare Naina frames is absolutely pitch perfect, for example.)

The visual effects, though, were top-notch, as promised. And they made it a pleasure to watch. Sure, it often glorified in the ability of the film to do these things, but that’s expected and sometimes it’s even fun to watch. And there are some crazy cool effects, like in G.One and Ra.One’s epic battle, where punches to the face send cubed ripples through SRK’s and Arjun Rampal’s faces.

Speaking of which... I can’t believe I’m saying this — or that I ever would — but I think I enjoyed Kareena Kapoor more in this film than SRK. SRK was good in his own right, of course — I don’t think it’s possible for that man not to charm — and he’s undoubtedly the center of attention. BUT SRK’s first character, Shehkar Subramanium, is downright awful. He’s poorly developed, has an awful wig and is an embodiment of several South Indian stereotypes. He’s also impossible to understand as a character. He’s somewhat portrayed as a goofball father (I have one of those!) that Prateek can’t stand, but at the same time he loves to dance (and well) and be the life of the party. The two sides are completely at odds. I felt more like SRK’s character from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi should have been making an appearance. As G.One, though, Shahrukh was his loveable self and the acting performance was much more solid.

Now Kareena, however, was amazingly stable. She was wife and mother as happy and wife and mother as sad with full resonance. Not to mention being sizzling hot in the process. (Though, irony, the Chammak Challo subtitles said “sizzling siren” for Chammak Challo, which is not what it means.)

Arjun Rampal, one of the faces Ra.One takes on during the film, was also a fabulous villain. Very well cast. Downright terrifying at moments (though, yes, not as terrifying as the villain from this summer's Murder 2, which I think set my bar for villainhood).

Overall, yes, I did like Ra.One. Yes, Ra.One is fun to watch. I just wish there weren’t so many small flaws in it that could have been fixed. Like another I haven’t yet mentioned: With this film’s attempt to vault onto Hollywood’s level, Hindi filmmakers need to stop doing little things like having white robbers in London speak Hindi. Things like that are not world-class filmmaking.

I was especially hoping for something stellar considering the huge impact of Ra.One’s release. At 5,000 screens across the world — including mine in dinky Gainesville, Fla. — it’s the largest Bollywood release ever by a sizable margin. And Box Office India reports that Ra.One had an opening-day nett gross of 25 rupees crore on the opening day, breaking the 20 rupees crore record set by “Bodyguard.” With such an impact, I wish more had been dazzling besides the songs and the visual effects.


  1. It feels like with each blockbuster film the opening day record is broken again and again. Will it continue like that forever?
    Anyhow... I'm curious for this, but not hoping for too much...

  2. That's probably true, and it probably will continue forever because of inflation (especially where India and its runaway rupee inflation is concerned). And that's how I'd recommend going into Ra.One. Expect good action, but don't hope for as much as I did. It's definitely enjoyable if you try not to expect too much. :)

  3. What a pleasant surprise to find Bollywood deewanae in America and especially right here at UFL. Coming back to Ra.1 the general review I am getting from back home in India is sadly negative and seems like this one is for SRK die-hard fans alone. But thanks to the massive amounts of publicity ( I saw the first Ra1 promo clip last Septmeber!!!), Ra1 seems to have made massive earnings. And that is all that counts I guess. Though Bollywood did make some very poignant movies last year (Udaan for instance, Do watch it if you get the chance) however this year, the cupboard seems barren. Haven't seen Ra1 yet but the general outlook for such movies we have back home is -Leave your brains at home to enjoy this.

  4. And btw Youtube has some Indian movies at and some of the old ones for free even.

  5. Hi Neeraj! Yes, I love finding fellow Bollywood fans here in the U.S. (and I'd especially love finding some in Gainesville) because we're unfortunately so few and far between. And trust me, if there's Bollywood around UF, you can find me there (I'll be the random gori in the sea of desis).

    And yes, if you look at the second post I did on Ra.One for the Alligator ( I talked about how despite the negative reviews (SO MANY), Ra.One achieved its level of hype and "doing something new."

    And I wouldn't call the cupboard barren this year! It hasn't been fabulous by any means, but there have been some films that I've really enjoyed (especially Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, which was fun and poignant).

    Also, I've watched some movies on YouTube... The only problem is that most of them are poor quality or don't have good subtitles. A few weeks ago I started watching Maine Pyar Kiya (which, believe it or not, I can't find anywhere else) but the subtitles quit on me halfway through. So frustrating!

  6. Hey . . I just Wanna improvize ur flaw. . . Though it hav been a year since released. . I m commenting on it cuz' i saw it yesterday again. . So lets come 2 da point. . . U said why does not destroys hart in first battle. . But if u watchd' da movie carefully u wuld' nt' hav said dat. . Cuz' srk as shekhar said dat nd' can only did with their harts connected and dat 2 in last level. . . I hop u understand