Ra.One—the Review

79 Comments

The way the state of Bollywood is right now, superstar vehicles, provided they are marketed and distributed right, are assured of making money. The number of people who will sing hosannas even if Shahrukh Khan (or Salman Khan for that matter) stands in front of a blank screen and recycles through all his fixed facial expressions (which is what most of SRK’s recent movies have been) is so insanely large, that his producers (in this case himself) know that anything with his presence in every scene and aggressively marketed by him, is guaranteed to be a mega-hit, if not break records at the box-office.

The pre-release circus confirmed my worst fears of what “Ra.One” would be—for the fan-boys and for no one else.  There were the promos with Shahrukh Khan, standing like Spiderman on the top of a building, with an expression that was supposed to be “intense” but looked suspiciously similar to his stock “My Name is Khan” Asperger’s facial freeze. And then of course the heavy-handed publicity blitz in which Shahrukh Khan became the Viagra mass-mail stepped out from the digital world into the real, spamming the inboxes of our brains with relentless ferocity that was, to put it mildly, severely piss-offing. Combined this with the slew of negative reviews (Rediff had three or was it four trashing “Ra.One”), and an overdose of that irritating kid who, for some reason reminds me of Sarika when she used to play little boys, I had kind of made up my mind as to what “Ra.One” as a film would be—–Love Story “2050″ with Shahrukh Khan in place of that Hrithik Roshan-clone “Her-man” and minus the endearing tubelights that passed off for lightsabers there.

Having seen “Ra.One” now, I can say it confirmed some of my presuppositions. I was not holding my breath waiting for originality. And there was none. Starting off like “Sin City”, with a dash of Austin Powers, some “Tron”, a lot of “Terminator” and sequences from Spiderman and X-Men, it is a collage of concepts stolen from other places with even Dalip Tahil, of Madan Chopraaaaa fame, being given a J. Jonah Jameson look and feel.

I knew it would be a great commercial product. I was not disappointed. “Ra One”‘s  primary target audience is eight to fifteen year olds. And it packs in plenty of “gaming stuff”, very well executed special effects and “condom” tee-hees and other juvenile “adult” gags that eight to fifteen year olds find insanely funny (I did when I was that age). In this, it does perfectly what it set out to do.

The other target audience is of course SRK fan-zombies. Here was the first moderate surprise. Though Shahrukh Khan is present in glorious rapture in almost every frame, sometimes with the new Ravindra Jadeja haircut and sometimes as a body-suited G.One, he does take one pretty big risk.  By becoming a digital entity controlled by the kid, he lets the child become the driver. This of course is a device that helps him connect with the primary audience, the 8 to 15 year olds, who appreciate no doubt the importance given to one of their kind. But this also had the potential to alienate those who expect Him (intentional capitalization) to be the sole mover of the narrative, second to none. That Shahrukh and his crew resolved this design tradeoff well is evidenced by “Ra.One”‘s box-office collections and the more or less consistent fangasms on Internet bulletin boards and on Twitter.

And then came the big surprise.

I was entertained by “Ra.One”. And this despite not being in the target demographic.

The primary reason for that is “Ra.One” is fun in the same way that the old Manmohan Desai blockbusters were— implausible, crazy but somehow very dynamic. In “Naseeb” I remember the three heroes using their three rings to punch the bad-men such that the symbols of three religions would be implanted on their cheeks and then using these same rings to slide on a rope from one building to another. “Ra.One” has some of that kind of endearing “HART”-y goofiness which, at least, for me never made it as mind-numblingly boring as “Tees Mar Khan” and most other big-ticket Bollywood movies now-a-days are. Fortunately “Ra One” never takes itself too seriously , reveling in its own low-brow-ness with none of the pretentiousness that characterizes much of the work of that other Khan. Nowhere is this better than the climatic scene when Shahrukh Khan grips Arjun Rampal’s electronic blue-balls at which the latter’s naturally blank expression together with his  “Yeh kay kar rahe ho G.One?” creates the kind of celluloid purity that brings tears to the eyes.

Product it is, as much as a “Ready” or “Bodyguard”, but the very least one can say that a lot more thought and effort has gone into making it work as a film, with pace and generous dollops of self-mockery, in sharp contrast to the auto-pilot monstrosities that Salman Khan assails us with every holiday season post-Dabangg.

And for just this, I appreciate “Ra.One”. Not enough for me to go to sleep with a G.one doll but at least enough for me to say that watching “Ra.One” was time quite decently spent.

 

About these ads

79 thoughts on “Ra.One—the Review

  1. I found this review to be very vague and that is quite uncharacteristic of you. I read the third last paragraph a few times – but im none the wiser as to why you found the movie entertaining or why it is worth a watch.

  2. So when SRK was in 30s his fan base was college going crowd, now in his late 40s he is targeting Justin Biebers of this world. Can we presume that his target movie goers is similar to the Curious case of Benjamin Button :)
    Would have loved to read a blog by greatbong where he shreds the Ra.one to pieces.
    Also do check out my blog on Ra.One http://ayansen.blogspot.com/2011/10/raone-review.html

  3. Agree with you Arnab. Liked the Ravindra Jadeja reference. SRK knows the tricks of trade very well and used it in this movie. All the critics be damned. If this was a movie churned out my Hollywood the very same guys would have fought tooth n nail to give it Oscar Award. Ra One was indeed G One….Din Ace Ra.Thi

  4. Review seems much carried away. Manmohan desai movies were different genre altogether. What kind of thought n effort is it in mixing noodles with curd or saying aiiyyoo every 2nd minutes in weired n irritating accent(supposed to b tamil but it is not). If he had not tried to kill some more south indian audience with his yet-to-be-found-language accent, it’d have been less disastrous. Sans local train sequence and CST demolishn scene, total vested interest. More disappointed reading review than watching movie. Could be less emotional n more typical ranty gb taking dig on loopholes, there r plenty for sure, in movie. No need to b that hasty in reviewing. Sorry! Par korh mein khaaj.

  5. In his BBC interview, Shah Rukh clearly mentioned that the aim of the movie is to lure the younger generation of India back to Bollywood because they are more hooked onto Hollywood movies for action entertainment. He explained that if Bollywood does not do any thing about targeting the younger generations, then in next 15 yrs, Bollywood would die.

    So it seems he has been successful in achieving his target.

  6. Pingback: NAACHGAANA » Blog Archive » Ra.One—the Review (Greatbong)

  7. Is it paid review or the effect of Ra one Ad in the blog ? I can’t belive you say something positive about Ra one when everyone is thrashing it left, right and center.

  8. Your first blog which has really disappointed me. The usual wit and analysis is missing and it seems like you wanted to stand out and play devil’s advocate. My basic issue with the movie is it is a dishonest film. Captain Ram Sharma in Main hoon na was a better superhero than G.one.

  9. I am a srk fan but i was very disappointed with the movie.Even if you overlook the obvious like shekhar-shahrukh getting a christian funeral and then his ashes being flown into the river or the idiotic jibes at madrasis or the pathetically low complexity of the game which has only 3 levels and you will reach there whatever happens because you can’t be killed before that and the obvious fallacy of what happens if both miss the bullet or…. i can go on and on…So even if you overlook them you don’t get the entertaining feel of manmohan desai-sque or salman khan-ish ceetis and comedy of self depreciation.
    i feel srk tried to get high quality hollywood superheroes and mix it with so called “indian” sensibility but succeeded at neither…

  10. Have not seen film but have read plenty of reviews including yours.I guess the film is worth a one-time watch.

    I am not against SRK–but I do support the ‘other Khan’ you have have referred to so disparagingly–’Fortunately “Ra One” never takes itself too seriously , reveling in its own low-brow-ness with none of the pretentiousness that characterizes much of the work of that other Khan.’

    So Peeple Live is pretentious? 1947 that lovely pain-filled poem about partition? RDB, Sarfarosh,Ghulam (so robust and real)..what was pretentious about 3 Idiots?

    Yes, you did not like Delhi Belly, i know–but you are ok with the vulagarity of crotch grabbing and other stuff?

    I’d chose supposedly pretentious Aamir any day over regular bollywood cheese.What are you, a secret SRK fan doing the usual mindless Aamir bashing that many SRK fans indulge in online? No problems there–and i really have no probs with SRK–just that i find it sick, a colleague/rival star being pulled down to prop up another leading figure.

  11. i am not an SRK fan. i feel bad that we no longer get upset about our movies copying from foreign movies. without giving any credit or royalty.
    but then we also download from torrent illegally and watch without paying. We as an audience get the tripe we deserve.

    … off rant

  12. Extremely disappointing. Pitiable attempt to play a devil’s advocate. The movie was defended only by die hard SRK fans and by people who are ‘interested’. The near unanimous opinion is that the movie is really badly made with with so many loose ends, underdeveloped characters,jarring screenplay, full of juvenile bad vulgar jokes and most of all boring at most points of time. As someone said only time the theater comes alive is two minute appearance by Rajnikanth. How is this quip ” Ra-One is a two minute movie of Rajnikanth with two and half hour guest appearance by Shahrukh” says it all, does it not? Even the supposedly cutting edge special effects are no match to the Robot of Rajnikanth.
    I suspect that this review is an attempt to grab eyeballs / comments by being provocative; hence successful in such attempt.

  13. So tell me GB,

    If you pass off Dog Poo topped up with silver foil does it become Kala Jamnum?? Or even Mishti Dohi for that matter?

  14. ra.one has left even reviewers like rangan/greatbong so perplexed that they can’t even write a straight review :-) they don’t know whether they are praising the movie or criticizing – gb’s review here is a proof here…

  15. Disappointed with your review. I mean what sort of digital video-game character smiles, emotes, dances and the usual SRK stuff. Completely agree with aksupporter here that you need not justify your review or SRK’s performance by having to bash up other Khans’ films. It has got to have enough merit on its own and in this case it just hasn’t. As much fantastic/imaginary the plot has to be, it has to be consistent within itself, here it is just conveniently compromised all the time to showcase SRK. Would have liked it much better if it was not pretending to be a superhero/videogame character movie, because it isn’t.

  16. @Greatbong

    Thoroughly disappointed with the review. Seems you were in a hurry to come up with one. Missed your usual wit and humor that has become so synonymous with your movie reviews.

    @Aditi

    This movie was made precisely for you; the large clan who think SRK’s mere presence on screen is enough to make a movie watchable

  17. For once, I’ve found a review online, (other than Rangan Baradwaj’s) that has something good to say about Ra.One. I saw the film on the first day itself, and I enjoyed myself. I don’t know why the mass public is disappointed by it. Many people have mentioned the stereotypes as hampering the film like the curd-noodle scene, but really, do we not revel in our stereotypes? That’s how we are. And Arnab, you are right when you say that you enjoyed such things when you were of that age-group; I did too.

    And the effects were quite good. The train scene has to go down as one of the better-implemented VFX scenes in recent time.

    As for most of the people finding this film to be bad, I bet y’all liked Transformers, right?

    It was an out-and-out SRK masala film. Salman does all this without a superhero suit, y’all like it then, right? Someone raised a point on Twitter, don’t remember whom, asking would you have enjoyed Ra.One more had it been a Rajnikanth film instead of SRK’s? Touche.

  18. the worst film i have seen this year period…but then i had the good sense to avoid other crap like ‘bodyguard’ and ‘ready’ cant believe this comes from the same industry as znmd

  19. Haven’t watched the movie, but from the promos and the stills- was SRK trying to look like Jesse Eisenberg playing Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network? You know, Mark Zuckerberg = computer programmer = game programmer?

  20. I waited anxiously for this from you and this is what i get..r u serious? to start with,A movie without a script deserves bashing by sane ppl..but this was untolerable..srk is losing his ‘dominance’..but i understood one thing,4yrs taken by anubhav is what i flush everyday in d morning..
    really bad post..no offense

  21. GB, extremely disappointing and senseless review ! Are you confused, whether to trash the film or to praise it? A film without a sensible screenplay cannot ever be a good or even half-decent film.
    SRK is too full of himself nowadays and he thinks that if he bottles shit and markets it well, there are enough suckers to lap them up !

  22. To ALL,
    I am not a hard core fan of SRK. I like India trying to create a genre on superheros. But surely not by heavily copying from ET (Jadu); Tron, Iron-man (Ra.One) or even x-men (Krish2).
    Why do we lack original ideas or get an inspiration and move to a different proper direction.
    Why all movies would have to have love interest and songs and slapstick humor. Why not make a realist (meaning srk is a robot. he should not be smiling in the beginning, until his A.I. learns about emotions)
    Why should be a dance in a birthday party, with bikini clad girls.(chammak challo girls)
    Why our hero and heroins. all are super singers, dancers, have good looks , good humour, womanizer and bla bla bla all.
    ————————————————————————————–
    And as far as GB post is concerned. well good to know he liked it. It is his opinion. But we readers want to catch more humorous/witty/intelligent/sarcastic trashing. (And not a mild one liner marked in red in the western union)

    A Suggestion to GB.
    Next time please excite us with your intel/wit/humor/sarcasm. and at the bottom you write that you nevertheless liked it.

    My Opinion:
    The only thing i liked about Ra.One. Bebo with the belolisious RED saree, and trying to show a bit more cleavage (recently put on) than in previous movies.

  23. It was most un-original story ever..At least we know what to expect from Salman’s movie…Could not make out the difference b/w SRK’s role in MNIK and Ra-One ..his face contortions and robotic dialogue delivery were exactly the same…don’t know about others but I did not find the movie even mildly entertaining

  24. Despite being a huge fan of your blog, I have to say this with a heavy heart… Awful post… Really disappointed… Has none of the typical GB elements… Seems like you were confused or biased or something..

  25. Hi,
    It seems people are more interested in a review which would take digs or
    make fun of the movie just for the sake of it.

    I liked the movie :) The first 15 mins killed me, but then it was good.

    My Question is that how people who liked Dabangg, Bodyguard and the likes not like Ra.One , isn’t it just a better(and I’d rather say, a more logical ) version of the fare they like to watch?

    Kudos to you for not taking sides and still keeping the humour up :)

  26. @Amrita – Bodyguard was complete crap but hey Dabangg was GOOD! The story was logical and linear, acting was Ok and treat was fantastic..

  27. Saw Salman’s Bodyguard recently in Chicagoland with my missus (who adores the guy) and my past-college daughter. Haven’t seen Ra-1 yet, but I think Bodyguard had more outrageous stunts because they are performed by a human and not a superhuman! Of course another sight these days is the number of non-Indian sub-continentals at these movies. Whatever it is, audiences in the US are now catching up with their counterparts in Europe and most of Asia in their taste for Indian mainstream movies. One of my friends, an American-American said how he stumbled upon Hindi pop movies and loves it. “For a long time I thought you guys made those dark dreary movies only. Not these bright kitschy things. I just love it.”

  28. I can see one common trait among the morons above here. While they accuse SRK of doing different things, they find it impossible to understand that if GB likes a movie, he is being true to himself by saying he likes it. He is under no obligation to write entertaining mock reviews for a bunch of no-paying losers here, if he does not believe it warrants that treatment. I did not like Ra-One myself but applaud GB for being true to what he believes in. It is almost as if GB HAS to hate what you have hated, or else he is disappointing and far worse.

  29. Never cease to amaze me…I thought this one was ripe for a whippin :). Originally, to me the storyline seemed to be a copy of virtuosity(a movie i liked, but few else did). Maybe I will take a crack at watching this.

  30. You know Greatbong, I totally see where you’re coming from. While the special effects and fight sequences were quite entertaining, it was difficult to not cringe through the melodrama and low brow humor. Maybe it’s because we’re getting old!!

    It is one thing to include a pointless scene with Rajnikanth to ensure that people in the South will watch your film, but unnecessarily dumbing down the first half (SRK turning into MJ, Bebo’s thesis etc.) leaves the audience wondering whether they really enjoyed the film or not.

    I thought it was great as a one-time watch. I just wish the entire film was as slick as its best bits.

  31. amazed at some people’s inability to appreciate a nuanced review. If GB is not clearly trashing a movie, he is confused!

  32. I am not sure why people are “disappointed” with the review. If he was glossing over its flaws and acting like a fanboy, i would understand. But he said clearly that he enjoyed it in spite of its flaws. Just because you didn’t like doesn’t mean than no one else should. There are a lot of weak films that one enjoys in the moment, maybe because of the star or the songs or the special effects or the company or simply because they are in a happy place. Why is everyone disappointed as if GB is child who failed an exam they coached him for.

  33. Yo man!

    Having read all those reviews that shred this movie to bits & that revealed nearly all the plot holes,contrivances & cheap jokes,I felt genuinely piqued to go have a dekho myself! Now that very little of the movie remained a curiosity,I just wanted to see how the 6 yr olds and the 60 yr olds in the hall were responding to it!

    There was a boy,about 3-4 yrs old,sitting on his dad’s lap on the seat next to me.He got genuinely confused & concerned seeing the “Don2″ trailer,and kept asking his dad repeatedly “papa,is this Don or Ra.One”? & papa was assuring him that it’s not Don! And finally when the title flashed across the giant screen,the little one let out a war cry and started screaming “Ra.One…Ra.One” repeatedly!! The audience around were pleasantly amused & broke into a laughter! There were intermittent laughs later during the show,but none was more heartfelt & unanimous than this one!
    It moved me.In my otherworldly life that has nothing but endless torrents of Hollywood indie, Scandinavian & oriental flicks,I had rarely ever come across a moment that served as the testament for the power of cinema as this tiny little gem!!!

    How did I find the movie?? does that matter in any case??? & kudos to GB for not playing to the gallery for a change!

  34. @Greatbong : Sorry to say but this post reeks of contrarian attitude by not playing to the gallery … The thing which this “product” lacked was a heart (pun intended) … Although it was a far better “product” than Tees Maar Khan , Bodyguard , Ready , et al but it was nowhere in the league of 3 Idiots and Dabangg … Ra.One was extremely crass and juvenile and could be summed up in the balls-grabbing scene where G.One replies that he does not have a fucking clue what the hell is going on … Freudian slip anybody ???

  35. GB great attempt but somehow this review does not sound like your real opinion…. but it still stands out for being the only review defending this trash with your mighty name and fan following. Wish you were a little more objective and impartial. Don’t let us down.

  36. From first-hand experience: if a person is known for satirical sense of humor, even his/her general comments are seen as a satire. People expected GB to satire, mock, thrash RA-one. It’s a choice and a blog of GB. GB is not writing whether everybody else should enjoy Ra-one; he is just saying what he enjoyed. Give him a break.
    One thing is for sure (looking at infinite no of Ra-One comments in Facebook and twitter) that ‘Shahrukh Khan and Ra-one’-bashing is being seen as a sign of intellectualism. (I wonder what happens to most other Bollywood Megahit films and their heroes: possibly no-one from the net-savvy people watches these films!)

  37. This one is for the majority of GB’s fans who do not know anything about a land at the tip of peninsular India where people eat rice, are short, dark, with spiky hair and who perform paalabhishekam for Rajini.
    Years ago, I mean really long, long ago, the Tamil Man of Letters, Jayakanthan, wrote a novella, “Yarukkaga Azhuthan” – Whom did he cry for? A producer chanced upon hte book which was by then selling like airport novels, and asked Jayakanthan about making a film out of it. See it if you can, it’s wonderful. But try to get hold of the book and buy your Tamil friend a nice meal and ask him to read it for you. You will find out how little the movie captures of the classic. Jayakanthan, when asked if he was disappointed, dismissed the question. A book is written for a few 1000, while a movie is watched by lakhs. Vastly larger sums are at stake. And if the movie must make money (and those who live off the movie eat, feed and clothe their loved ones) it cannot have more than a elements that appeal to the largest number possible. That’s movies for you. and that’s Ra-1.

  38. agreed that the script lacks originality,that srk can’t really pull off mre than 2 expressions per scene bt that somehow does not matter when he comes onscreen…srk lights up every shot in which he is featured just by being in them.and mayb due to the humungous expectations placed upon ra one it may not live upto that standard yet i think its worth a watch because frankly ra one is far better than some of the other crappy movies of the same formula that have been piled on us month after month by a certain other khan..

  39. shahrukh’s motive was good but movie is pretty weak. not worth watching. and ya lot of things copied from hollywood movies
    and bit juvenile

  40. Sabalil,
    I was referring to Passerby’s link vigilidiot.com, not Arnab. I make no claims. I am just an obscure commentator.

  41. I used to love this blog. The last few posts have been thoroughly disappointing. Come on ! Its clear GB has no interest in writing these posts. He is too busy writing a book and just throws around poorly written and even poorly thought posts, just to maintain a readership. He knows we are the same people who will buy the book.. But really there is NO heart whatsoever in these posts. They are positively boring. I, for one am so not buying any book GB writes, since he is basically cheating his reader. Sorry, this is the way I feel about it. I hope GB will wake up & smell the coffee or whatever he is on these days.

  42. I think GB is suffering from what Sumanata Ghosal termed ‘Satisfactory Underperformance’. He has reached a sort of success pinnacle of a blogger now. He may not be providing his 100% efficiency in doing what initially used to do.

    Just a thought.

  43. @Linuxman,

    You may indeed be an obscure commentator, but you are one cool person.
    Admirable the cool sabolil way you replied to Sabalil.

  44. I find Ra-one is a must watch film…SRK and his team has done really great effort in the movie….Ra.One movie is world’s best movie

  45. Hi GB,
    The primary “problem” with Ra.One is it tries to impress all categories of people. Thus the result was a collage of been there seen that mish mash. SRK tried something different but the idea was as messy as Shekhar subramaniums hair.

  46. Nice post. Not watched Ra.One yet. Seemed quite brainless. I think the only reason why I would still want to watch it, would be because of ‘Chammak Challo’. I’m not a fan of Akon’s nasal voice, but the song is catchy.
    I like this post, quite a lot.

  47. @Aditi: For your sake, I hope SRK does not become a Poster Boy for Halitosis and Lung Cancer Fatalities. Looking at the way he puffs away his life (like a chimney), I fear for him (and for you)

  48. Honest review without worrying about the flake it might get and it did. But kudos for writing what you felt. I too liked the movie, atleast technically, one of th ebest movie to come out of India. Don’t know why people say Robot was better. It was crap, the snake effect, the doubles, and Rajni making an intelligent robot using a scredriver..LoL. For once in RaOne, an Indian director has gone great lenght to depict a digital world in a prfound way and has legely succedded in doing it. Maybe, the story line was weak and could have been much better…and the first 10 mins and the Rajni scene could have been avoided. But a bold initiative from Bollywood.

  49. SRK is grtst once agn prvd who else who hv made that excpt SRK and its only SRK who even gives title name of the movie to villian, and his actions controlled by that boring kid i think SRK made too much sacrifice still he becomes the best superhero our KING is the bestest

  50. I think RA.One is one of worst films that I have seen in last 10 years. I didnt see Ready or Bodyguard, so cant compare. I am a Shahrukh fan but I thought the movie really sucked. Only thing that was good about RA.One was Rajni’s guest appearance and Suresh Menon’s reaction :) Kareena Kapor was intolerable, the kid (dunno why he had such an awful hairstyle) was intolerable.

Have An Opinion? Type Away

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s