What It’s About:
Tigmanshu Dhulia returns to the space he is best at – an amalgamation of North Indian politics, crime, relationships and setting. This is the story of Raja (Saif Ali Khan) who gets embroiled into the world of crime with his close friend Rudra (Jimmy Shergill).
Step by step, they go on to become the most dreaded duo in Lucknow and beyond with the help of a local politician (Raj Babbar). Problem happens when they cross paths with a businessman with vested interests and connections (Gulshan Grover) and then Raja to seek vengeance, even if that means going against the entire system.
But standing against him now is the most feared cop in the region, Arjun Singh Munna (Vidyut Jamval). The rest of the film is about how Raja makes it all possible along with his ladylove Mitali (Sonakshi Sinha).
Tigmanshu is clearly comfortable with the setting of his film and that’s almost one of the primary characters in the film. He gets the nuances and flavour of Lucknow rather well. In the first half, he focuses majorly on the friendship between Raja and Rudro and that’s well captured. For the first time, you see the essence of scale in a Tigmanshu film.
His earthy and powerful dialogues are one of the film’s highlights. Bullett Raja, from the core, is like a typical masala revenge drama – the difference is the Dhulia touch to it. Live locations, raw action and interesting characterizations (Gaurav Dixit as the artist and Falguni Chatterjee as the Kolkata cop) make it stand apart. There are no fancy frills in this film – it’s all real and that’s the beauty.
Among the performances, it’s a full Saif Ali Khan show and he’s in top form. His character of Raja is full of style and attitude – Saif adds another dimension to it with his characteristic one-liners.
Jimmy Shergill almost has a parallel role in the first half and deservedly so. Gulshan Grover adds freshness to his character and is quite entertaining. Vidyut Jamval, has a towering presence and is a scene stealer. From the time he comes on screen, you can’t take your eyes off him. His action scenes (especially the ones with Saif) are a treat to watch. Clearly, here’s a huge star in the making.
This time, Tigmanshu isn’t really armed with a story that is unique or unconventional. Which is why the screenplay needed to be inventive. But that doesn’t happen. There are a few highs in the screenplay but they’re clearly outweighed by the lows.
There’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Bullett Raja would’ve been a great example of a fine mix between real and mainstream but it falls too short of that. The romantic angle between Saif and Sonakshi seems tame and brings down the film’s tempo.
Tigmanshu tries to take a breather by taking the story out of Lucknow to places like Mumbai and Kolkata – both times, it’s just a waste. The songs are wrongly placed and have no connection with the story. The twist in the climax had potential to make a strong impact but you see it coming all the way.
Tigmanshu has been the torchbearer of cinema based in the North Indian belt – this time, he falters big time in his narrative. One also hopes the production values of the film were better considering its size.
And cinematic liberties were controlled to some extent – guns blazing in every second scene with no impact on lead protagonists is almost venturing into the South Indian masala zone.
What To Do:
Watch it if you’re a fan of some edgy dialogues. As for the rest of it, you’ll want to rain bullets on this Raja.
Watch the film trailer: