Movie Review: Raman Raghav 2.0 (2016)
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vicky Kaushal, Sobhita Dhulipala
Writers: Anurag Kashyap and Vasan Bala
Rating: 5/5 stars
Movie-buffs all over, it’s time to rejoice because one of India’s cinematic masters is back in his elements, doing what he does best – engrossing us in a rich canvas or visual story-telling, striking a perfect balance between high-quality art and higher-quality entertainment, and teasing us till the very hand till we’re all but eating out of the palm of hand. With Raman Raghav 2.0, Anurag Kashyap comes roaring back into form after the commercial and critical debacle that was Bombay Velvet. He delves deep into the psyche of a bona-fide psycho – clearly defining the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath – and comes up with a film that’s as cinematically thrilling as it’s psychologically haunting.
Nawaz, who plays the notorious serial-killer Raman, is inspired by the real-life serial-killer, Raman Raghav, who used to terrorize Mumbai’s streets back in the 1960s. He’s completely devoid of emotional connect, except when he feels the pleasure of smashed brains and flowing blood. The screenplay (fabulously researched and intricately constructed by Kashyap and Vasan Bala) follows his exploits as he navigates the bylanes, slums, and rundown apartments of Mumbai, piling on the bodies and indulging his dark fantasies. Scenes where you see pure pleasure in his eyes as he targets his kill are testimony of the kind of effort and thought-process gone into making this film. But it isn’t just the directing, writing, and acting that makes it so great. Every minor thing like the editing between scenes and dark lighting of dingy locations adds to the depth of the film. Even the songs strike a perfect chord to take the plot forward, with Behooda being particularly transitional to the narrative.
However, Raman Raghav 2.0 isn’t just about the thrills and chills. Yes, it delivers all that, and in copious amounts, but it’s also so much more. From the opening sequence, where Raman wants others to know (and chooses the police no less) of his devilish deeds and brilliantly devious mind, we realize that here’s a character striptease of a man on the opposite spectrum of society; the type we’ve heard about on the news or read in leading dailies, but haven’t really had the misfortune to encounter in reality.
You’re literally made to feel Raman’s madness regardless how much it scares you. And credit for this has to go as much to the Nawazuddin as its owed to Kashyap and his team. The actor, who has enthralled us with many a gut-wrenching performance in the past, has arguably delivered his finest yet. He’s as effective rolling in the gutter to hiding from the police as he’s in terrorizing his own family while giving into his sinister cravings. And it would have been so easy for any actor to portray Raman as a cliché of similar characters known to moviegoers, but it’s Nawaz’s deep understanding of his character and methodical approach to it that makes it stand out from scores of other psychos portrayed on screen before – like the comic touch he bring to the maniacal role without overdoing it.
Nawaz makes you believe that he was born to commit these hideous acts, which is why he can’t really help himself. And, it’s this conviction that makes you also believe when he goes in search of his partner-in-crime. After all he’s Raman, and he needs a Raghav to form a deadly-duo in reverence of the murderer he idolizes. Who he chooses as his accomplice or his better-half like he puts it? Well, that twist will literally shake the ground beneath your feet. It’s certainly not something you’d want us to reveal.
Hunting this monster is Vicky Kaushal, who plays the DCP of the Mumbai Police Force unlike any cop we’ve seen in Indian cinema before. He’s an addict to the core, and has no apologies about being one just like Nawaz has none about his murderous vices. Kaushal is as emotionally bare as Nawaz, with the only difference being that they emotional voids are targeted at the opposite spectrums of the law. Kaushal can’t even bond with his girlfriend, Sobhita Dhulipala, who shines in a small but significant role, showing that a character doesn’t need to be major in order to be meaty. And, kudos to Kashyap for once again using his keen eye to spot fresh talent. The cat-and-mouse played between the psycho and the cop hurtles to consequences you’d never see coming, with Kaushal playing the perfect foil to Nawaz’s devilry.
Kashyap ensures that we get as up close and personal, with this evil mayhem, as could be possible through the medium of cinema. He literally directs the heck out of Raman Raghav 2.0. Scenes are palpably tense, emotions are stripped bare, and you have no clue about what could come next. Just like in the mind of a true psycho, anything and everything is fair game in this movie. It’s unlike anything you’ve seen in Indian cinema before because while we’ve had great thrillers, we’ve never seen a no-holds-barred, blood-soaked spectacle of this kind.
Raman Raghav 2.0 is in the league of darkly demented suspense films like Psycho, Se7en, and The Silence of the Lambs and Nawaz’s character is up there with the greatest psychos ever seen in the history of cinema.
(The review was first published on https://www.movified.com/movie-review-raman-raghav-20-psychotically-delicious-and-gorgeously-disturbing)
Images Source: Phantom Films