Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Ra.One: This ain’t the one
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of months, it’s unlikely you’ve missed the “Ra.One” juggernaut. This superhero film has been everywhere, peering out at you from hoardings, blaring on the television, on your can of soda and pretty much in your face. It’s been non-stop marketing, persistent selling of a product you’ve been told that you have to watch.
That is how “Ra.One” the movie comes across as well. This is less of a movie and more of a product that is tailor-made to audiences looking for a Diwali movie. So everything, including the product placements, the songs, the dialogues and the story are all positioned to touch the right chords.
Unfortunately, movie-making involves a lot more than just good product placements and marketing. It needs heart, and in spite of the sci-fi theme and hi-tech technology, “Ra.One” doesn’t have heart.
Shah Rukh Khan plays Shekhar Subramaniam, a mild-mannered video game developer who hopes to build a better relationship with his son Pratik, who thinks his dad isn’t “cool enough”. When he develops a complicated video game with an “unbeatable” villain named Ra One, Subramaniam gains his son’s respect. What he doesn’t know is that Ra One has suddenly come alive, and can function as an evil villain out of virtual reality. How and why this happens, we are never told.
He sets out to get G One, or the good one, even as G One protects Shekhar’s wife and Pratik against Ra One. I won’t give any more away, but the plot line is simple enough. There are songs inserted at appropriate intervals, there are poignant moments that come after those songs, and there are also stereotypes aplenty. For example, Shekhar eats curd even with spaghetti, because he is south Indian. He also says “ayyo” a lot. But we’ll let that pass, because Indian movies more often than not stereotype their characters.
The weak link in this movie is the direction by Anubhav Sinha, your attention will waver a lot — the pace isn’t fast enough for a super-hero action flick and there are some inane dialogues that will make you laugh. Sinha tries to pack in every single element into the film, with the end result being it looks haphazard.
The USP of the film is supposed to be special effects (disclaimer here – the show I watched wasn’t in 3D, so I don’t know how that will turn out ) and if you’ve watched “The Matrix” and “X-Men”, you won’t be thrilled with the special effects. Some of them look like they were hurriedly done. Sinha would have done well to reduce the noise level and up the level of VFX. However, there are a couple of sequences, especially the one involving a speeding local train which are well done and are likely to keep you on the edge of your seats.
Also, for a villain supposed to be evil and unbeatable, Ra One is surprisingly colourless and dull, preventing you from investing any sort of emotion for him — he just leaves you cold and Arjun Rampal’s expressionless acting is partly to blame.
Of the cast, Shah Rukh Khan has obviously put his heart and soul into being G One and Shekhar, but he comes across as awkward in the scenes where he plays Shekhar. Kareena Kapoor looks drop-dead gorgeous and sheds some tears and looks wide-eyed enough when required to. It is Armaan Verma, who plays Pratik, who shines through, playing his role with aplomb.
Watch this one if you are looking for tailored entertainment. There are plenty of songs, fight sequences and drama. And Shah Rukh Khan. But if you are looking for a good movie, this ain’t it.