...bites the bullet

MUMBAI: The tendency of filmmakers from the North and other Hindi speaking regions is to opt for a subject with a local flavour typical to their home turf. Tigmanshu Dhulia does just that. In Bullett Raja he creates an oft-seen UP drama about guns and goons and politician puppeteers. This is the region where either the other person is your enemy or he is a prospective backstabber. Like in all such films, the educated youth is unable to find jobs so they take to guns and join the underworld.  Not long ago, such films fitted in a slot described as B Grade films, and also enjoyed the patronage of masses; the gentry were usually oblivious of such fare. What worked for such films was that their budgets were sensible. Now when big bucks are spent, the cast and promotion had better guarantee an initial to secure the investment and guard a lot of reputations.

Saif is Raja Mishra, a Brahmin from Lucknow looking for a decent job when he gets into trouble with a bunch of goons. He fights his way through while on the run. He spots a baraat and blends in with the crowd, landing up at Sharat Saxena’s house where he meets and befriends Jimmy Shergill. The occasion is Saxena’s daughter’s wedding, an excuse for the performance of something like a mujra performed by Mahie Gill, through which Shergill and Saif clink glasses of alcohol and strengthening their friendship further. 

Producer: Rahul Mittra, Nitin Tej Ahuja, Tigmanshu Dhulia.

Director: Tagmanshu Dhulia.

Cast: : Saif Ali Khan, SonakshiSinha, Vidyut Jamwal,
Jimmy Sheirgill, Gulshan Grover, Raj Babbar, Mahie
Gill (sp App), Chunky Pandey, Ravi Kissen, Vishwajeet Pradhan,
Sharat Saxena, Vipin Sharma.

Mahie Gill notices Saif ogling her and is game for a fling. As the pair move towards the woods for some privacy, Saif eavesdrops on a conspiracy to raid the Saxena house by surprise and kill everybody present. The conspirer is Chunky Pandey, who has been brought up by Saxena as one of his own. He has now joined Saxena’s rival, Vishwajeet Pradhan.

Saif feels he owes allegiance to the Saxena household and to Shergill for the shelter he got there. He rushes to alert them. The Saxena clan is ready for the gunfight; Saif and Shergill form a formidable team as they shoot one raider after the other while also covering each other. The fight gets over and Saxena is impressed by the duo’s heroics and Saif’s in particular since he had nothing to do with the family. Saxena asks them to join his gang where he will be rewarded well as against a job outside. Their desires to stay within law and find a job notwithstanding, both finally give in and take to guns for Saxena. They take refuge in jail while things blow over, where they meet a very influential prisoner, Vipin Sharma, who is always on one of his multiple cell phones.He is a fixer and wheeler-dealer for local politicians, Raj Babbar being a prime one.

Babbar is the most powerful politician in the region and on Vipin’s suggestion he takes Saif and Shergill under his wing. Now they shoot for him. Babbar asks them to attend a fundraising pre-election conference headed by Gulshan Grover, who is described as Kuber, the Lord of Wealth. The duo rubs Grover the wrong way and he in turn insults and humiliates them. The pair decide to take revenge. They barge into a hotel room where Grover has planned a casting couch session for a film he is financing. The aspirant is Sonakshi Sinha who is offering to kiss Grover on the cheek because that is as far as she will go when the duo arrive. They kidnap Grover and later release him for five crore rupees.

A bit late in the film but it is time for some romantic light moments between Saif and Sonakshi. Luckily, both take no time to say ‘I Love You’ to each other with Gill as a bystander. In celebration, they fly to Mumbai, sing a song and return to base and back to business. A very angry Grover is waiting for them as he wants revenge for what they did to him. Grover has also sought the services of Ravi Kissen, a sharpshooter who can shoot somebody dead from 100 yards. They catch Shergill alone with Sonakshi in the house. It is time for Shergill to die so that Saif can justify the title Bullett Raja as well as find the motive to wipe out all enemies. The second half is left to Saif to carry on his shoulders.

But Saif can’t carry on a film that has no story, only people planning and plotting against others. To liven up things, Vidyut Jamwal is introduced in the story. Jamwal has already proved his prowess in martial arts with his earlier outing on the big screen and here, in measured doses, it is fun to watch him in action. He and Saif also plan and plot but only for the sake of creating an opening for the sequel!

UP-Bihar background with totally local issues and flavour don’t appeal. Even an interesting film like Sehar had not worked. They offer nothing novel in their local bahubalis and gun wielding goons. Bullett Raja lacks romance, emotion, music and drama. It becomes monotonous as somebody or the other is trigger happy at all times. If this was Dhulia’s idea of a full-fledged commercial film, he is about half a century behind. The trick now is to cater to a mixed audience of multiplexes, single screen, overseas and satellite. If first two are drawn, a film is safe and rest is assured. Dhulia’s creative touch is missing here. Music fails to prop up the film. Photography is good. The film can be trimmed a little. Despite so many enmities, the dialogue is uninspiring; real fights are provoked by cutting edge dialogue and keep the audience along. The film was somewhat interesting till Saif and Shergill operate as a pair but loses steam thereafter except when Jamwal makes an entry.

Saif looks very un-UP like but he does okay. Shergill brightens up the goings on while he is around. Jamwal is good in a brief role. While Babbar, Grover, Saxena, Pradhan and Ravi Kisan stay true to their respective images, Pandey is a misfit. Vipin Sharma is sincere as ever. Sonakshi Sinha is ready to burst at seams and contributes nothing to the film.

Bullet Raja has had a weak opening, failing to manage a draw even at single screens. It faces poor prospects at the box office.

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