I am still struggling with how Raees ended. Although, Fida’s comment this morning suggesting it was Raees choice to end that way helped a lot. But, I don’t know, I think I still would have preferred a different ending. Not because it was sad (which it was!), but because it was not in synch with the rest of the film and the character and the situation. So, for a fun Sunday post, I am going to re-write it the way it SHOULD have been written!
In one of my reviews, I think my full SPOILER review, I talked about how it seemed to go off track after Shahrukh won his election. More specifically, it went off track when he had his conversation with Mahira at the land plot about how he would build this perfect land for their people.
Now, that was just a silly conversation! Nobody talks like that! That is the kind of talk you only have when you are doomed to be defeated in a film, like saying “My last day before retirement” or “Look at the photo of my new baby” or “we will be together and in love forever!”
(These two kids. Spent way too much time scenically kissing in front of sunsets, doomed to die)
And especially, Raees doesn’t talk like that! We saw over and over again how he likes to keep things close to the chest, to be cautious. This whole big dream, opening his heart and revealing his deepest held desires, that’s just not a thing we have seen before from this character.
Yes, he loves his wife. Yes, he wants to help his people. It’s just the big dreamy monologue I don’t buy. I found it much more believable the way this idea came up twice before, when he was joking about it with Mahira while they were courting, and when he casually insisted on getting 30% of the land he was clearing for the Minister for his own use. That’s how he has these ideas, he mentions them to people and then quietly keeps working away on them in his own head without bringing it up again. Much more believable to skip this scene and go straight to the next, when the engineer is showing him the plans and asking for the go ahead to start building.
So, that’s my first problem, setting him up for a fall like that. Moving forward, I thought the riot scene with the Yatra was brilliant, and probably the first scene they shot and biggest reason Shahrukh wanted to do the film. And the build up to it, with Nawazuddin setting him up to have to follow through on his threat, that worked for me too, the idea of these two men driving each other forward. And that leads directly into Shahrukh being elected to office, again completely reasonable.
But here is where things seriously take a turn. He is elected to office, and it is never mentioned again. The “evil” ministers put his land in the “green zone” so he can’t build, and he never takes vengeance on them. The city institutes a curfew out of nowhere, and suddenly his enormous wealth is all spent on groceries? Seriously? Groceries?
Let me suggest an alternative: no big speech to Mahira, which is clearly setting him up for a fall and bringing in a weakness that was never in his character before. Rest of the movie plays out like normal, until the moment when the minister gets a call from Delhi about riots and issues the curfew.
Cut that whole phone call! It comes completely out of nowhere and changes everything, and doesn’t work with the rest of the movie. No riots, and no curfew. Instead, keep the conflict what it was already, between the corrupt politicians and honest Raees who cares about the people. Have him get the word that the construction has been put on hold because of the “green zone” order, and have him go against it and keep building. Have him call a press conference to say that the minister is delaying progress. Have the minister order Nawazuddin to go after him, and have Nawazuddin refuse unless he gets it in writing.
Have the people join up to support Raees and stand with him against the bulldozers the minister calls up, showing how his dedication to the neighborhood has been repaid. When Nawazuddin finally arrests him, have Mahira take charge (the way we saw a little during the campaign, but not enough) and declare that she will keep the building going.
And in the end, two options: 1. Have Raees still die for his sins, when the corrupt politician arranges to have him killed, using Musa’s man (showing that Musa was always willing to dispose of Shahrukh if it would give him an advantage), but Nawazuddin quits the police in protest and threaten the minister with revealing all he knows unless the minister lets the building continue. And then Nawazuddin delivers the glasses and locket to Mahira, and fade to a statue of Raees in the square outside the hospital in present day as his son plays in front of it, with the glasses on the statue’s face just like the glasses on Gandhi back at the beginning of the film.
2. Have Raees live. He is arrested and the minister tries to blame him for everything, but Nawazuddin goes to see him in jail and gently gives him the information he needs to turn the tables. Mahira takes the info and uses it to blackmail the minister into releasing Raees and clearing his name and announcing that Raees is now head of the coalition government. Raees takes charge and calls Nawazuddin to his office and jokes about “police station chai” and how instead he has gotten used to “government chai”. And then he orders Nawazuddin, in writing, to raid all the remaining store rooms and so on and arrest Musa for it. Because Raees has brought his people so far, they no longer need the illegal trade. And he is aware that Musa has been using him all these years for his own ends. And Nawazuddin and Raees finally share that cup of chai that has been waiting all these years for them to become friends.
(Also, was anyone else constantly thinking of Andaz Apna Apna in all the chai scenes? Or was that just me?)
SEE???? Aren’t those better endings? And don’t they fit better with the first 2/3rds of the film where Nawazuddin was good and too smart to be drawn into violence, and Shahrukh was always able to find a way to wriggle out? And where Shahrukh’s ultimate goal was always to bring up his whole neighborhood with him?