Monday, December 5, 2011
Movie Review: Ra.One
Director: Anubhav Sinha
Original Release Date: October 26, 2011
I rushed to see Ra.One in theaters on opening weekend. So I've had quite some time to contemplate the film and finalize my feelings for it. In general, Ra.One will not appeal to the typical Bolly-goer, but is a wonderful film for those who choose to appreciate it.
Ra.One was heavily, heavily promoted and talked about, so expectations were bound to be sky-high. The project was ambitious, unique, and...expensive! It may not have lived up to many folks' expectations, but the film should not be written off. Shahrukh Khan single-handedly took Indian superhero cinema from lame (Krrish) to lavish.
Shahrukh Khan initally stars as Shekhar Subranmaniam, a goofy Tamil fellow who pines for his young son's approval. Though you may gag at the wig, Shahrukh plays this character flawlessly (do we expect anything less from the man?). His South Indian accent is spot on, and you can't help laugh at and feel sorry for Shekhar at the same time. Add in the wacky Shekhar grooving to Akon's "Criminal" track, and everything is golden.
Shekhar is married to the scholarly, yet beautiful Sonia (Kareena) and they have a young video game loving son Prateek (Armaan). To win his son's affection, Shekhar designs a video game to appeal especially to him. Kareena is likeable in the film, but doesn't seem to be an integral aspect of it. Armaan is wonderful as Prateek, despite the horrible hair (I was convinced he was a girl in real life to be honest).
Now, to fast forward the plot without spoiling anything: stuff happens, the villain in the video game (Ra.One) comes to life and goes after Prateek, and SRK becomes G.One. Arjun Rampal is perfect as Ra.One, but his lack of screen time was pretty disappointing.
Sounds weird, right? It is! But that's almost the fun of it. The plot is pretty much implausible...but isn't this a movie geared towards children and sci-fi fans? Since when is Superman plausible? Or even Koi Mil Gaya?
Needless to say, the plot lends itself to tons and tons of action. And let me say, the action sequences and special effects in this movie are AWESOME. I also saw it in 3D, making the whole experience even more amazing. The superior effects alone allow this movie to compete on an international scale.
The biggest challenge for a movie like Ra.One is to successfully blend the Bollywood with upscale action and science fiction--without cheapening the effect. Here is where Ra.One excels. We get our Bollywood flavor with goofy Indian humor and masala dance sequences like Chammak Challo but action and adventure is clearly the dominant theme in the movie. Sure, some of the action sequences may have gone a bit overboard (like the one where G.One and Sonia first arrive in India), but the humor of it almost made it worth it.
I'm not saying Ra.One was a perfect movie. It, of course, had its flaws. The plot could have used some tightening, some of the action scenes could have used some trimming, and for God's sake we wanted more Arjun Rampal!
Despite the flaws, Ra.One broke some major boundaries. It was the first sci-fi Bollywood film that wasn't completely cheesy and didn't completely lose its Bollywood roots--a difficult feat in and of itself. The movie also didn't give the audience exactly what it craved: a Shekhar-Sonia love story. While that would've been entertaining, including a love story would have simply distracted from the father-son story, and would've added that "typical" and predictable element into the film. The special effects, the action, the budget, and the sheer extravagance of the film was something never before seen in Bollywood. And perhaps audiences simply weren't ready for how different this film was and tried to be.
Simply put, Ra.One was entertaining. Who's gonna love it? Children, sci-fi fans, international audiences, and SRK die-hards. Who's gonna hate it? Probably everyone else. But in a world where a movie like Ready is a blockbuster, I guess I can't expect much more.
Final Verdict: 7.5/10