There have been many films in Bollywood, which have followed the 'Robin Hood' format in stories. At the same time, the silver screen has been a testimony to many films which have actually 'con-tested' the elections as far as conning is concerned. Films like DHOOM series, SPECIAL 26, BUNTY AUR BABLI, BLUFFMASTER, OYE LUCKY! LUCKY OYE!, AANKHEN etc... will always remain as the evergreen shining examples of films which has been made on the subject of con jobs.
This week's release RAJA NATWARLAL (earlier titled SHAATIR) also follows the same path. The film starts off with Raja (Emraan Hashmi) a con artist by 'profession' and his partner in crime Raghav (Deepak Tijori) and their means to survive in the big bad city of Mumbai. Life goes on smoothly for Raja, courtesy Deepika Padukone and Waheeda Rehmaan and Zia (Humamima Malik), something that you will understand on watching the film. Despite being a conman, his heart bleeds for the helpless children and beats for the bar dancer Zia. Raja and Raghav seems to be really satisfied with their petty con-crimes for survival till Raja overhears two men discussing big money. Wasting no time, he gangs up with Raghav and they both hatch a foolproof plan to seize their big-ticket con with both their hands. Even though they become successful in executing their plan and become overnight millionaires, little did they know that their 'loot/booty' actually belonged to Varda (Kay Kay Menon), a cricket obsessed dreaded gangster based abroad. When the news reaches his ears about his men being looted by the duo, he wastes no time in bumping off Raghav, something that happens in front of Raja's eyes. That's when Raja decides to go on a mission to avenge Raghav's killers, during which he encounters Yogi (Paresh Rawal), a highly experienced con artist, who is now based in Dharamshala, because he renounces the world of conning and crimes. It really takes lot of conviction for Raja to make Yogi help him avenge Raghav's death. How do they hatch a foolproof plan to destroy Vardas's empire despite the many odds against them is what forms the rest of the film. The reason why Yogi agrees to help Raja also gets revealed almost towards the end of the film.
Director Kunal Deshmukh, who had earlier teamed up with Emraan Hashmi and had delivered hits like JANNAT (2008) and its sequel JANNAT 2 (2012), does a reasonably good job in RAJA NATWARLAL. The camaraderie between him as the director and Emraan as the actor is clearly the highlight of the film. There are a few repeated moments from his earlier films, but the plot of the film overshadows that. He manages to get the audiences glued to their seats throughout the film, a few loopholes notwithstanding. Even though the first half of the film is engaging enough, the second half gets a bit stretched up, thus pushing the audiences into a 'yawn-zone'. Kunal Deshmukh also makes a blink and miss cameo in the film!
As far as performances are concerned, Emraan Hashmi is top rate as he delivers exactly what was expected of him. Even though his last film GHANCHAKKAR turned out to be a dud, this film will surely live upto the audiences' expectations from him. On the other hand, debutante Humaima Malik, despite commanding a strong screen presence, is merely reduced to a prop in the film. She does deserve brownie points for her confidence to stand against Emraan Hashmi, even though she doesn't match upto the 'requirements' of being an Emraan Hashmi's heroine! Deepak Tijori, despite being in a cameo, registers a strong screen presence. Needless to say that the other men in the film Paresh Rawal and Kay Kay Menon deliver a flawless performance each. The rest of the cast help in the film moving ahead.
Even though writer Parveez Shaikh deserves to be applauded for the film's storyline, the same cannot be said for the film's editor Anand Subaya, who could have really churned out a miracle with his editing, a factor that is responsible for the film dragging. Even though the film's background music (Sandeep Shirodkar) is engaging, the same cannot be said about the film's music director Yuvan Shankar Raja. Unlike the previous Emraan Hashmi films, this film has no catchy music or even his trademarked one-liners. While on one hand, the choreography by Remo D'Souza and screenplay (Parveez Shaikh) is commendable, on the other the film's cinematography (Raaj Chakravarti), and its dialogue (Sanjay Masoom) could have been really areas which could have done the trick.
RAJA NATWARLAL is essentially an Emraan Hashmi film, which attracts its major audiences from the single screen theaters. The film is bound to face some 'elephantine' competition as its release coincides with the Ganesh Chaturti festival weekend. In addition to that, the next week will also see the release of a hard hitting MARY KOM, which could possibly apply the brakes on RAJA NATWARLAL.