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.”