Several years back, director Sridhar Raghavan had made a docufiction on Raman Raghav, a serial killer who had terrorized the residents of Mumbai in the ’60s. Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Raman Raghav 2.0’, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vicky Kaushal in principal roles, is not based on the life of the criminal. This is something the makers put across right from the onset of the film. Well, that got the audience intrigued as, they had stepped into the theatre expecting the contrary.
Raghavendra Singh Ubbi (Vicky Kaushal) is a cop who cannot do without drugs. One day, a man called Ramanna (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) comes to the police station and confesses killing several people for no or trivial reasons. Raghavendra and a bunch of officers interrogate him and come to the conclusion that no man in his right sense would come to the police and confess kiiling a bunch of people even when there is no proof or evidence against him. They consider his confession to be a bluff and lock him up in a deserted house. After escaping from the clutches of the police, Ramanna goes on a killing spree. Sooner than later, Raghavendra realises that these murders have been committed by Ramanna and sets out to get him. While Raghavendra and the police force is on the lookout for him, Ramanna puts across his message that Raghavendra and him are similar people and that he expects Raghavendra to vary forward his legacy of murdering people for no reason.
The film’s central theme, like that of ‘Badlapur’, in which the lines between good and evil merge into one another is different here. In ‘Badlapur’, the ‘hero’ is projected as a good person in the beginning and as the film progresses, circumstances lead him towards losing his goodness. In this film, however, Raghavendra is far from being a noble human being or an honest, well-intentioned cop. He is a drug addict who physically abuses his girlfriend and murders a man whimsically. You do see some good in him as he chases a criminal relentlessly, takes genuine interest in the case he takes up and at times, is cordial towards his girlfriend. But, right from the beginning he gives one an inkling of him treading a darker path.
The central theme, coupled with the chase between Ramanna and the cops, makes the film riveting. What brings it down is the length which does not befit the narrative. Even though the sequence involving Ramanna and his sister’s family subtly touches upon issues like child sex abuse, seems overlong. And, what was the need to show him killing people again and again? After establishing his character and the heinous way in which he murders people, the director should have moved onto exploring plot points. The film has an interesting theme and an engaging screenplay but does not bring anything new to this genre.
The lengths to which Nawazuddin Siddiqui goes to portray a deranged serial killer can be measured by the fact that you actually start loathing him and see him as Ramanna. After playing relatively subtle and likeable characters in ‘Masaan’ and ‘Zubaan’, Vicky Kaushal gets to play an aggressive, despicable cop here. His body language, mannerisms and performance, in general oozes haughtiness and personifies the troubled mind of Raghavendra. Sobhita Dhulipala has a smouldering presence and shows trappings of a great acting talent even in a small role. Amruta Subhash is terrific as the traumatised sister. Ashok Lokhande, Mukesh Chhabra and Vipin Mishra offer memorable turns in small roles.
Anurag Kashyap is in top form as a director. His films are marked by strong characters and milieus which bear a stamp of authenticity and we get to see them in this film. He incorporates the theme into the cat and mouse chase seamlessly. One just wishes that he, along with co-writer Vasan Bala, had derived more elements out of this theme instead of focussing too much on Ramanna’s histrionics.
The tension is the narrative is taken several notches higher by Ram Sampath’s soundtrack. The songs blend into the film without causing any disruption in it and the backround score, consisting of EDM and raga based melodies, is delectable. The film has been shot in several places in Mumbai which has not been explored before and DoP Jay Oza captures the underbelly of Mumbai rather well. Despite the inclusion of some scenes that do not help in carrying the story forward, Aarti Bajaj’s editing, for most part, is good.
‘Raman Raghav 2.0’ is not one of the best efforts by Anurag Kashyap. Yes, the film has the inventive filmmaker’s stamp on it but it is neither as path breaking as ‘Black Friday’ nor is it as enjoyable as the ‘Gangs Of Waaseypur’ films. The film deals with an interesting theme but does not offer anything which we have not come across in films belonging to this genre.
Despite not having much of a novelty value, the film still makes for a compelling watch because of some bravura performances and skillful direction.