Happy Raees Week! Let’s talk about Ram-Jaane, Shahrukh’s Last Gangster Role

Is that his last gangster role?  It feels like it is anyway.  Not counting Don, where he is more a kind of globalized loner gangster, and less a gritty street fighter gangster.  Which is what he plays here.  Very very poorly.  This is not a good movie.

(Disclaimer: This isn’t a “real” review, just a brief post thinking about how this film might relate to the upcoming film, and giving you some background that might be helpful.  Also, since it’s not a “real” review, assume the whole thing might be filled with SPOILERS)

 

Such a stupid movie!  It’s Angels With Dirty Faces, but with some crazy stylish touches to hide the heartbreak.  In the original, the big emotional relationship was supposed to be between Jimmy Cagney and Pat O’Brien’s saintly priest.  But in this one, it ends up being more between Shahrukh and Juhi Chawla, and even more heartbreaking there.

Also, it has one of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE stupid movie moments.  It is right at the end of this song, which is plenty stupid on it’s own.  What with the 1960s Batman themed restaurant, in which there is space for about 3 tables for paying customers and about 30 dancing girls.  How is this a business plan?????

 

The song cuts off just as the “bad guy” grabs his gun, so you miss seeing Shahrukh’s response.  Which is to RIP THE WIG OFF THE DANCING GIRL NEXT TO HIM AND TAKE OUT THE GUN HE HAD HIDDEN ON TOP OF HER HEAD!!!!!

HOW IS THIS A PLAN?!?!?!?  What if she didn’t happen to be dancing next to him when the guns came out?  Had he hidden guns on top of every dancing girl in the chorus?  What if they all turned on him with his own guns?  Or, did they not know there was a gun on top of their heads?  The one dancing girl looked awfully surprised when he ripped off the wig, like she didn’t even know it wasn’t her real hair, let alone that there was a gun underneath it.

The rest of the film is at about this same quality level.  The only thing that really makes it work is Shahrukh’s complete commitment to this bonkers character.  He goes from crying out his grief when his gangster mentor is killed, to flirting with little puppy eyes with his childhood crush Juhi, to putting on a tough guy face and facing down the cops.

And Juhi.  Juhi also makes it work.  She isn’t even supposed to be in love with Shahrukh, but she is supposed to love him.  And her love shines through the film.  Especially in the moments when it gets all soapy because she is pretending to love him just to reform him and he has to pretend to be horrible and irreformable in order to scare her off and back into the arms of the man she really loves (some actor who was completely forgettable).

One thing that is kind of interesting is that “good” in this case is completely outside of the social order.  The cops are bad, the official orphanage where Shahrukh was raised is bad, the gangsters are bad too.  The only people who are “good” are Shahrukh’s childhood friend Boring Actor and Juhi.

And the new orphans.  These are the “Angels with dirty faces” from the original.  In the original, the fight is for the souls of the future generation, between the enticing charming gangster and the noble priest orphanage guy.  But in this one, the battle is over Shahrukh’s soul itself.

He is never irredeemable.  In fact, he comes pretty close to being redeemed.  That’s what makes it a tragedy.  To see how he has to force himself to be “the bad guy” in order for everyone else to be happy.  To take on all the sins of the society so that others can live without sin.

And in the end, for his sacrifice to be complete, no one can even know what he has down, why he did it, who he was and what his live meant.  Thus the title “Ram-Jaane”.  Well, okay, the title is because that is what he said when he was little and asked what his name was.  But also because his whole story is secret and his tragedies and triumphs are known only to God.

 

It’s a very specific kind of gangster movie, one in which the gangster is tragic because the world thinks he is just a gangster and can’t see what else he can be.  And I suspect that might be the tone to Raees as well.  That we get to see Shahrukh the lover, Shahrukh the wise and just leader, Shahrukh the fearless warrior.  But the world at large will only see him as the irredeemable smuggler who terrorizes Gujarat.

On the other hand, if Shahrukh wears a shirt, it’s got to be better than Ram-Jaane.  I know, that seems opposite to my usual policy.  But that’s only because you haven’t seen Ram-Jaane yet.  His character’s fashion statement is to wear a suit with no shirt.  WHY?  And this is back when Shahrukh really wasn’t comfortable shirtless!  It didn’t feel like “hey!  Look at my abs!”, but more like “I’m kind of chilly and goose-pimply but I’ll try to get through this because the director is making me.”

 

 

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27 thoughts on “Happy Raees Week! Let’s talk about Ram-Jaane, Shahrukh’s Last Gangster Role

  1. *Fangirl alert* So glad you wrote this! I love Ram Jaane with the fire of a thousand suns, while also recognizing its multiple multiple flaws. I also think that probably only SRK and/or Juhi fans can really get into this flick. I like them so much together, but I hate the whole thing of the guy she loves (Boring Actor) asking her, knowing she’ll do it because she loves Boring Actor, to try to fall in love with Ram Jaane to save him. Ugh. But there are still moments of great chemistry between them! Also, in this movie is the scene that first gave me goose bumps watching SRK’s acting–in the jail when he complies with Boring Actor’s last request. “Crazy commitment to his character” is spot on!

    Like

    • Have you seen Angles With Dirty Faces? I haven’t, because I am a bad film student (Bad!), but I’ve read plenty of commentary and analysis of it. And that scene in the original is supposed to be one of Jimmy Cagney’s great acting triumphs, the scene that really took the film to a different level and made people sit up and notice him as an actor.

      Knowing that, I was primed for SRK to do something really special for his version, and he did not disappoint!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank u .. but pokkiri raja 😦
    i was excited to see ur blog and have read most of ur reviews. am interested in knowing wat u have to say about those good movies from India. u give a different perspective. But sadly find more posts about sharukh n silly bollywood movies getting the space. i scroll for the new posts and then feel disappointed and exit.

    However told u writing more about srk n silly bollywood stuff will get u more hits is wrong. Quality will definitely find recognition.

    Like

    • Thank you for giving me your opinion.

      Please do try the posts you skip, even if you think you won’t like them. Sure, the TGIF posts are exactly what they sound like. But, for instance, my recent post on Koffee with Karan dealt with gender issues in the industry more than gossip.

      Part of the issue is that the higher quality posts take me a lot longer to write. I have to watch the movie, and then really think about it while I write. Even if I were to stop entirely writing the “silly” posts, it wouldn’t noticeably increase the amount of “good posts” that I can put up. This post, for instance, took me about 20 minutes to write, since I wasn’t going into detail so I didn’t need to actually re-watch the film or spend a lot of time trying to find an original angle on it.

      In contrast, my post on Moondru Mudichu took me about 8 hours. That’s including watching the movie, so 3 hours of watching and 5 hours of research and writing. This morning I just finished Aval Oru Thodar Kathai, it took me a couple of days to watch, squeezing it in around work and other things, and I am sure I won’t be able to finish writing a post on it until Monday at least.

      If I got no views at all on the “silly” posts, I would stop them, and the blog would only be updated every 3 or 4 days. But since they are getting decent traffic, I figure I might as well keep throwing them up while I work on the more time-consuming pieces.

      (and if you are a long-time reader and know that I used to be able to put up a high quality post every other day or so, I’ve slowed down on that because life has picked up. If my friends stop inviting me out and my job slows down, I might be able to increase my output again. Essentially, if you want me to write more “good” posts, the problem isn’t that I am wasting time on the bad ones, it’s that I am wasting time having a social life! :))

      Like

    • Dude! Margaret puts in a lot of time and effort into this blog and I think that really needs to be respected. I’ve read a bunch of blogs on Indian movies before I found this one and Margaret is the only that posts multiple posts everyday. She enjoys writing about SRK and bollywood movies, so those are more frequently seen topics but she does watch and post on many different types of movies. Plus she does listen to her readers suggestions, so give her some suggestions if you want her opinion on a specific movie.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I watched about half of Ram Jaane last night. It is fairly dire, lol, and I wasn’t really paying a lot of attention to it.
    1. I would like to know how that gun didn’t fall off her head while she was dancing, lol.
    2. What was the point of the lips superimposed on the sea at the end of whatever-song?
    3. Perhaps the costume budget didn’t stretch to shirts for SRK.
    4. His suit looked pretty fresh as he stepped out of jail after however many years he was locked away.

    Do I carry on with the movie?

    Like

    • I’m not going to say the movie gets “better”, but it stays at the same level of ridiculous through out. So if you found yourself enjoying the “wait, why isn’t he ever wearing a shirt?” lunacy, then keep going! If you find yourself just incapable of getting past it, stop. Never gonna improve.

      In terms of the lips superimposed on the sea, do you think it might be because they just made a mistake in the editing lab and no one cared enough to fix it?

      On Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 4:31 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

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  13. I have to say that I have been laughing my…head…off out loud while reading your description of RamJaane, which I happen to love (only for the ending where he nobly dies so that his young acolytes will follow the path of boring boring boring actor instead of his).

    I completely missed the gun under the wig thing which just goes to show how unobservant I can be! Lucky for boring boring boring Juhi she seems to be the only girl in town or she’d never get a date! Except with boring actor.

    Love the shirtless thing~it’s so funny & odd how these days a sighting of SRK shirtless can bring women of all ages to their knees (uh-oh~way too naughty an image) I mean to speechless-ness …but young SRK not so much! Aging like a very fine vintage!

    Like

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