In Defence of Raees

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Last weekend, I struggled to book myself two tickets to Raees. Despite not having a single person willing to accompany me to watch it, I wanted to lay my hands on two tickets- centre row, farthest from the screen, in the back. For someone who's seen a bunch of films alone, in classrooms, auditoriums and film theatres, this wouldn't have been hard. However, Raees was different. I'd been waiting for the film, since the first time Excel Entertainment released a teaser on YouTube around a year and a half ago. They had stated for the film to release around July/August, around the same time as Sultan. After trying every single person on my list of people I can tolerate, I managed to score one seat, third row from the front. Neither were rational adults on my friend list interested nor could I manage an additional seat.

For those who are unaware, India has a limited number of film exhibition screens. You'll ask me how many, and I will have to fall back on the data given by one of my research subjects. However, I won't go all out to supply that (also cause fuck your curiosity). By and large, for a country obsessed with cinema, there are very few screens available. Which means, when a film releases commercially, it gets picked up by single screen theatres and multiplexes. While multiplex system allows you to balance the selection with the other films, the single screen theatres and exhibition spaces lose out on the money. For example, if Salman Khan starrer Sultan releases the same day as Shah Rukh Khan starrer Raees, neither would benefit from the competition. Both the films would lose the domestic business as their profit share would be divided. Now, if the same high budget commercial film releases during different periods, the longevity of those films running in theatres increases depending on how they are doing. Also what changes is the domestic collection of the film. 

This logic really pushed Rahul Dholakia directed Raees to bow down and back out from their initial release date in July 2016. 

Raees' release date, now, clashed with Hrithik Roshan starrer Kaabil. Which again, highlights the same problem. An A-lister wouldn't want to cut another A-list celebrity's film. Yet, that happened and it proved fatalistic for Kaabil, only in comparison to it having released without the clash. 

Despite raking the numbers (and Raees rumoured to be the first Shah Rukh Khan film entering the 300 crore club), it's not being able to generate positive feedback. Which is to say, your tickets are out, seats are unavailable. Yet, people are coming back to giving awful feedback. 

Here's some that I heard:

Shah Rukh shouldn't play the role of a twenty-something when he is fifty something. 

Here's the deal. Shah Rukh wouldn't do that if the industry allowed for him to age. The Bombay film fraternity works in strange ways. A stage/TV actor from the 90s can play Shah Rukh's cinematic mother in Raees. Yet, there is an immense problem when he plays her child. Why must we allow ourselves to believe that?

From the last question, I arrive at this, if a fifty-something-year-old Shah Rukh does a fantastic job at being twenty-something, should I really be nitpicking at that point?

A director's vision is really what you've to align your vision with, when you go watch any film, to be able to enjoy it. It sounds hypocritical when I say, given I ranted about Daniel Chazelle's La La Land. The writing with La La Land was my problem. The fact that the cast of La La Land couldn't make me believe that they were that pained at the idea of losing each other and thus, travelled back in memories to revisit what could have happened, is the failure of the film. Not the problem of aligning your vision with that of the director's. 

It's something I've been saying for a while, if you're trying to be critical of the film/art object, find a reason to be/do so. If you're upset at their writing, please make that visible. 

Most part of the audience I've met have come back and said, "Shah Rukh looked ugly. He's old ugh. Why can't he act like his age?"

Frankly, Shah Rukh looks smouldering hot in the film. If anything, the gangster genre is really suiting him in his fifties. He is looking a fucking hero at what he does. Art, is not supposed to be good looking, twenty something, petite femme holding out a wine glass in an utterly non-instagrammable frame. Art is supposed to shock you, upset you, hurt you- affect you. The affect of art is really the fucking point of it.

If a film is doing all that, will you go ahead and diss it or obsess over his wrinkles and chapped lips?

The other grouch of dealing with people is answering on behalf of those who are watching the film on a big screen. Sure, these people are better than the lot who do not watch/consume and criticize, yet, watching a cam rip and saying it's a shit film, will only make you a fool. If you're expecting to be affected by the killer writing and moody cinematography, you have GOT TO watch the fucking film in the theatre. Nobody can explain to you how good a shot looks when you watch it on cinemascope and not on your cheap replacement to 13 inch MacBook Pro. I say this because there are films, which deserve to be seen only on a cinemascope screen. It should be criminal to watch some films on laptop. Probably Raees is one of them. 

I am aware that most of my arguments are loosely tied and that I am saying this to justify one way traffic of arguments. However what you need to know is that Red Chillies Entertainment is not paying me to make this any better, and it's not funny, when you come out and say Salman bhai is better than Shah Rukh even when he ages. Because fuck you. You're hurt in the head if you think so. Go learn theatre or something. 

You Might Also Like


Hos in Different Area Codes


Stalker Count