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:
Arjun Rampal: 5
Visual effects: 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.