Shahrukh Summer Discussion Post: Let’s Fix Raees!

Well, this is a fruitful source of discussion! So many Shahrukh movies that are almost perfect, but not quite.

Raees! Such great performances at the center of it, and such a great character idea, and yet it just does not work. Here are some ideas of what might have made it better.

Action Scenes: (I think this was originally Emily’s idea) We’ve got gritty fights like the one in the goat market, and then we’ve got that Parkour stuff during Muharram which just doesn’t fit, and the crazy leaping around with guns in the “Leila” fight. Get rid of the big spectacular over the top stunt sequences, keep it small and what you could believe a tough smart guy from the streets could manage. Or maybe cut all the action scenes, even the real looking ones?

Romance: Just cut it, cut the whole thing. Maybe one scene of him having an arranged marriage meeting, then have the marriage and baby in the background for the rest of the film. Yes it’s cute, but it’s a distraction. Alternatively, integrate it a heck of a lot more. Make her a real part of the criminal empire. What do you think?

More politics: He runs for office to get out of jail, and it is never really discussed. That’s a big thing! I personally want more on that. Is it just me?

Less Losing it All For Charity: The whole plan of building a new neighborhood was weird to begin with, then the random losing all their money because they spent it on food, it all just makes no sense. I say, tie it back with my last point, have his rival politicians do something simple and that’s why he lost the money.

What do you think? What would you change? Or is it perfect already?

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14 thoughts on “Shahrukh Summer Discussion Post: Let’s Fix Raees!

  1. I agree about the fight scenes. Those should have been realistic and there should only have been dancing when the characters would really dance. Leave Mahima thigh. I LOVE her.

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    • But would you keep her in the exact same way? I kind of want to cut Zaalima and instead give them more dialogue love scenes. And I want more backstory on them, I wouldn’t mind seeing a spitfire little girl in the childhood flashback, establishing that she has always been in the neighborhood and part of his life.

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  2. I may be the rare person who actually loves this movie just the way it is.

    I have come to accept over the top action in almost every last Hindi movie. It just seems to go with the territory. Anyway, almost no fight scenes in Hollywood or Bollywood are truly realistic. Where is the pain? Where are the missed punches? Where will 2 guys just overcome a single hero, never mind a whole crowd of them?

    Mahira seemed like a real part of his life, to me. A love, a wife, a partner who fits in where a woman in this culture can be helpful and recedes into the background were she cannot. When he is in jail, she knows enough to handle it all and to get him out.
    And yes, they love and respect each other. Almost refreshing to think back to after the travesty of Kabir Singh.

    An the cat and mouse with Nawaazudin was so enjoyable.

    I am clearly in the minority, though.

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    • Nope, not just you. I also thought the movie was fine as it was. At the end of the day, I want to be entertained but not in the brainless Salman Khan way. Removing Mahira or the romantic angle would have made it relentless in its action/drama scenes. Putting in the item song with Sunny Leone gives us 5 minutes to breathe and it really is a great song. I liked that it was a commercial movie but also told a story about what minorities go through and how marginalized a community can be away from the mainstream. It was fun but also had something complicated to say without giving puerile lectures the way those pathetic social issue movies do.
      I thought it was a great way to combine some art movie sensibilities with the commercial aspects that make a movie watchable and entertaining and not a complete disaster at the box office due to it. They still managed to do some tough things like letting Raees die at the end even though the movie would have been a much bigger hit if he escaped heroically at the end in some way.

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      • Yes! All of what you say! And it was not just that he died, but the moral ambiguity that both Shah Rukh and Nawaazidin fall prey to, that neither can escape, in the end. Very arthouse poetic.

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  3. Let’s see. I didn’t want this to be Scarface, like a really bad guy, power corrupts tale. Or even Sacred Games, though that was Nawazuddin more in his element. I liked how the Raees character is introduced coming out of a place where you hustle to make money, it’s just business, and you fight because you have to if you don’t want to get squashed. I wanted Mahira to have a meatier part. I didn’t like the whole bombing thing as a reason he had to give himself up and be killed. And I really like good fight scenes, I’m just sick of rooftop chases and flying ropes. (No one can jump up and kick a dude with both their feet without falling on their behind. No one can hang from one hand with their body angled sideways. Jackie Chan was doing that stuff 20 years ago, let’s step it up a notch.) This movie wanted grit. Have Raees be a crazy badass fighter like he is in the slaughterhouse scene, but don’t try to make him fly.

    How about, Mahira is the reason he’s always trying to build a straight side of the business and give back to the community. It’s not because she’s angelic and his better conscience, though, it’s because she’s trying to save him. She watched her father be destroyed by the corrupt powers that be, she knows that in the minority they’re vulnerable, and she’s savvy enough to see that if he has a plausible cover and the whole community behind him he might be safe. Raees admires her for her intelligence and ferocious spirit, he knows she’s a big part of his strength and success, that’s why he’s so in love with her. No Zaalima, though, it’s just way off tone. Yes Udi Udi Jaya, but with more layers to their relationship behind it.

    Nawazuddin can stay pretty much the same. Shah Rukh, though, he’s a bit darker in the scenes with Nawazuddin because Mahira carries the noble streak, Raees is always fighting back the temptation to settle things the gangster way. Nawazuddin sees that in him and pulls on it every time, the street fighter who wants to step up. The cat and mouse game is as much a battle of Raees against his own ingrained instincts as it is between him and the police. (But he doesn’t give in, that’s the redeeming side of his character. He’s choosing to become a better version of himself. He wants to hold on to his family and his business, he sees who he’s become to his community and how he is needed.)

    Housing project can stay but Mahira has a bigger role in making it happen. Arrest and election, OK. Maybe then the fall comes because Raees has made it big time and it turns him and his voting bloc into a target of powers too big for him to handle. (This would probably never make it into a movie if you wanted your movie to be approved and shown in theaters?) Not sure how this would play out without getting violent, maybe the city is starved of resources, all their suppliers for basic goods and services get scared off doing business with them, more people get into the black market to survive and then are painted as criminals. People start to turn against Raees. His patron sees the situation going south and teams up with the government to set Raees up as the criminal mastermind who corrupted a whole city, and one of his loyal lieutenants betrays him. Raees sees that sacrificing himself is the only way to make the pressure stop and save the city. Mahira is desperate because it’s like her father all over again and there’s nothing she can do, everything she worked so hard to build up to protect them is crumbling.

    Nawazuddin is turned into the patsy of a corrupt state. He sees what is happening but Raees has eluded him for so long that he’s convinced himself that he really is evil and killing him is the only way. Final conversation in the truck (Nawazuddin confronted with Raees’s humanity and his own venality) and desert execution. Tragic ending stays.

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    • Oh, and we can keep the final vengeance fight scene and stabbing the patron in the eye with his glasses. Since I know you were partial to that one, Margaret ).

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      • I really was! And it wasn’t a big fake leapy kind of fight scene, it was completely believable for his character.

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    • Yes! I love how you are bringing Mahira in! How about, she is the spoiled daughter of Shahrukh’s mentor, the bootlegger he worked for in the very very beginning. We see her and her mother watching while her father is taken away. And then later we hear the neighborhood talking about how they went to live with her uncle after that, but he died, and now she and her mother are back in the neighborhood. That would also add poignancy to the ending, she sees her husband taken away just as she saw her father leave. And a nice subtle statement on minority communities, the men keep being taken away leaving the women and children behind to struggle.

      I would still dump the housing project, I just think it is unrealistic. But I could see something like a community bank. Everyone puts their money in, Shahrukh promises a return on investment, it also serves as a way to launder his funds. And then he has to use part of that money for the election, and after the election people keep coming to him asking for help and he keeps dipping into the bank funds. And then one of the buildings collapses in the neighborhood, killing or injuring the people trapped inside. Shahrukh needs the money for their hospital bills and to rebuild, turns to his mentor who gives him the money no questions asked. And then turns around and tips off the politicians who use this and claim Shahrukh was paid off by dirty money to bomb his neighborhood, that’s why the building collapsed, not faulty management and supervision on the part of the government.

      That’s kind of messy, but it sort of works.

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      • I second Emily’s whole version concerning Mahira and yours concerning the ‘not-the-housing-project-but-another-communal-project-going-wrong’ because Raees got umwanted power. I also could do without an extensive parcours scene but liked the bloodiness of the Leila scene – very Raees-y. I liked the Zaalima song…and why should Raees not be able to dream???

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        • The blood in the Leila scene was fine, it was just the jumping around with guns that bothered me, because where did he learn that? If it was the same sequence, but toned down, it would be fine by me.

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          • Yes, agreed. That scene really worked from a character standpoint, but the fight choreography was a bit too much. Less jumpy, more barely in control straight through his enemies energy.

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