Raabta Review: Rom-com, Rebirth and Mr Right crisis

Reincarnation works best when an individual demonstrates an irrepressible desire to redress a tragedy where innocent people are killed and deceived for no fault of their own.

But in Raabta, this so-called misfortune is prompted by a fickle-minded girl’s inability to pick between two guys.

Dinesh Vijan’s unintended allegory on ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ syndrome, flitting between rom-com to rebirth, could not be more bizarre.

The producer turned director’s first attempt is so embarrassingly daft, it belies its potential for drama to validate a Dolly Bindra-lookalike soothsayer and empty vindication. Despite the shoddy early signs — there’s a comet named Love Joy hovering above the skies — Raabta begins on a watchable note.

A pair of young desis bump into each other at a local confectionary in Hindi-speaking Hungary. He’s a bawdy, boisterous banker from Amritsar (Sushant Singh Rajput), the kind Caucasian mothers warned their daughters about. She’s a chocolatier — means someone who can melt chocolate — prone to purse her lips so often, you wish there was a rehab for stuff like this (Kriti Sanon).

Have they met each other before? Before they can find out, it’s already wham, bam thank you ma’am. ‘I’ve never done anything like this before,’ she confesses. He’s too pleased with himself to care.

As the duo get all touchy-feely addressing each other in ‘tu‘s and wondering about the exact nature of their hastily progressing relationship against the picturesque backdrop of Budapest, Raabta is blatantly (if poorly) imitative of Imitiaz Ali’s sensibility. The flirty banter is obviously influenced by the writer of his previous outings as producer (like Love Aaj Kal and Cocktail.)

Things get a tad curious when a new guy enters the picture — a mysterious Mr Moneybags (Jim Sarbh) with whom the girl has a little moment in the rain to the beats of a trippy Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi remix.

‘I always wanted a guy like you,’ she confesses (again) not quite sure what to do about her Mr Right crisis.

Neither is Raabta.

And so it turns its attention to her past life, which has the appearance of an exotic medieval fantasy highlighted in heaps of tattoos, kajal, leather and furiously braided hair where characters converse in a clunky, preposition-free mix of Urdu, Avadhi and filmi.

One tribe’s called Muraki, perhaps a not-so-distant cousin of Dothraki?

From its wannabe Imtiaz Ali aspirations to full-on Mohenjo Daro-meets-Game of Thrones-scale baloney, Raabta hits a new low in incoherence and idiocy.

Early portions of the drivel benefit from Sushant Singh Rajput and Kriti Sanon’s livewire chemistry but they too can do precious little to salvage the unbearable mess Vijan’s first film turns into post-interval.

Sanon has a statuesque, spirited presence, but Rajput’s roguish charm feels repetitive. It’s still more tolerable compared to his delivery as the wild warrior making all these lecherous, deranged faces that bring the likes of Prem Chopra, Ranjeet and Shakti Kapoor at their vilest to mind.

Rajkummar Rao’s only contribution is you can’t tell it’s him under all those needless layers of prosthetics. Anyone could have done a role that squanders his talent to mumble some inconsequential, inaudible phrases.

But it’s Neerja‘s breakout star — Jim Sarbh — you feel most sorry for. There’s something attractive about his crooked charisma and his entry encourages you to imagine Raabta has some wicked tricks under its sleeve. Alas, he talks. And like a badly dubbed regional film at that.

This possibly can’t be anyone’s idea of entertainment in this birth or last.

This review was first published on rediff.com.

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