Sunday, June 26, 2016

Raman Raghav 2.0 

Psycho vs Psycho

When someone says they have watched a movie, the first question is : Did you like it? or Did you enjoy it? It is impossible to answer in the affirmative for the kind of films Anurag Kashyap makes.

Inspired by international filmmakers, he is constantly on the lookout for plots on which to hang violence, perversion and his penchant for glorifying amoral characters.  His latest Raman Raghav 2.0 is not about the notorious killer of the Sixties, who, for a few months, had driven Mumbai indoors, but a present-day psychopath, who copies the head-bashing style of killing, and has philosophical ideas on his bloodlust.

Ramanna (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) enjoys killing and, at the start of the film, tries to turn himself in, hoping for attention, but the cops don’t take him seriously.  A lot of thrillers about the hunt for serial killers are about the integrity and heroism of the cops who work on catching them; here, the officer on the case, Raghav (Vicky Kaushal) is a drug-addicted near-psychopath himself. He kills with a frightening coldness, smacks his strangely passive lover (Sobhita Dhulipala) around and treats her like dirt.  (Kashyap’s measure of irony is when two women are being mistreated by Raghav, there is a shrill debate on women’s rights going on in the background on a television.) For the sake of some pop psychology, there is a nasty dad and a mother-fixation. As for Ramanna, he was probably crazed in childhood. A horrific scene in his sister’s (Amruta Subhash) house, suggests abuse and incest.

Ramanna perceives the evil in Raghav and while the cop is trying to track him, he does a better job of stalking—to the extent of knowing what goes on in his bedroom.

Except for making Ramanna a smart aleck (he is updated on current affairs) and Raghav a brooding sadist, Kashyap and his writers do little to add any depth to the characters. The attempt is to shock and sicken—the killings are off-screen, but the splashes of blood, battered body parts and cops flinching at the gore with handkerchiefs to their noses, underline the macabre. Were it not for Kashyap’s high-profile battle with the censors, the scene of a child’s terror, his killing and a glimpse of his corpse, would probably have been cut.

Kashyap shoots on real locations in the slums and shanties of Mumbai, the camera almost gleefully zooming in on mounds of garbage and filth, challenging the viewer not to avert the eyes.

For all its swagger, excellent performances by the two leads, an effective soundtrack, brisk editing—Kashyap is unarguably a skilled filmmaker-- Raman Raghav 2.0 is just plain vile.


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