“Change” is a word that carries a lot of weight. It is a movement which takes a lot of time.
5 years ago, Cineman productions brought one such change in the Gujarati film industry. Actually, they rediscovered the film industry.
First came the witty “Kevi Rite Jaish” and then came the blockbuster “Bey Yaar”. And all of a sudden, as if all the doors of a dam were opened, there arrived a flood of films – ranging from downright horrible to just about average. Every film would proclaim itself to be “An Urban Gujarati film” and would ultimately be filled with mediocrity.
“Wrong Side Raju” brings an end to this mediocrity. As I walk down the steps of the theatre after watching the movie, I am filled with satisfaction and pride that we are slowly but surely getting there.
The film has a strong storyline, loosely based on the infamous hit and run case of Ahmedabad of 2013.
Raju Bambani is a driver cum bootlegger who unfortunately gets involved in a hit and run case. The police arrest him and now he has to prove himself innocent. He is the driver of well known lawyer cum businessman Amitabh Shah whose spoilt son was actually the real culprit of the accident.
Can Raju save himself? Will he find love in the French girl he befriends? And most importantly, will the truth ever come out?
This film is directed by debutante director Mikhil Musale and produced jointly by Cineman Productions (Abhishek and Nayan Jain) and Phantom films.
In his very first film, Mikhil excels. He adopts an indirect and unconventional style of narration and that works very well. The accident scene is shown very nicely and that lamp post falling scene is a beautifully done and significant scene.
The first half is spent in establishing the sequence of events that led to the accident. There are flashbacks, there is intermittent humor, and there is some very good acting. By the time it was intermission, the movie had me gripped, but just about.
Post interval, things change for the better. The plot becomes more and more engaging. There are some wonderful scenes which keep you hooked, until the unexpected suspense in the climax. Now that was very brilliantly done, Mr. Director! It changed the entire mood of the film, and gave the film the much needed impact.
The film is very well shot. Ahmedabad is captured beautifully.
There are a couple of scenes which standout among the rest – for example, the alcohol drinking scene in the police station, the navratri sequence, the entire courtroom sequence, and the scene involving Amitabh shah and Raju involving Rs 15 lakhs.
The performances are the USP of the film. As Raju, Pratik Gandhi wins your heart. He is so very natural. He doesn’t act. He just behaves and responds to different situations just like we normal people do. That is why his act looks so honest, real and convincing.
As the wealthy businessman, Asif Basra delivers a flawless performance. With a mix of gujarati, hindi and English dialogues, he convincingly plays his role.
As “Saily madam”, Kimberley Louisa McBeath is good. She never seems out of place.
The three investigating officers are true gems. As the lead officer, Jayesh More is superb. So is Alok Gagdekar who plays the role of the other officer. You might remember him from Bajrangi Bhaiijaan. (He was the one who was on the bus when salman khan narrates this flashback.)
The third police officer who plays the role of a constable brings the necessary dose of humor. His dialogue delivery is too good. (POTIYU!)
As the lawyer, Hetal Puniwala does a very fine job. So does Kenneth Desai who is top notch as always.
As Tanmay Shah, Kavi Shastri is okay. Someone much better could have been cast instead of him.
Secondly, the script is developed well. Writers Niren Bhatt, Karan Vyas and Musale himself do a good job. The editing however could have been crispier.
I will come straight to the point. Just because this is a Gujarati movie doesn’t mean I will unnecessarily praise it. The film has its share of flaws and is definitely not a perfect one.
Firstly, the editing needed more work. The film could have been 20 minutes shorter.
Secondly, the entire plot of the climax needed more development. At some point, you feel as if they wrapped it up conveniently in the end and too hurriedly.
Thirdly, they have used a lot of English in the film, which will not be understood by everyone. For us, it is not an issue, but people will flock with their families to see this movie, and there will be quite a large section who would have preferred subtitles in those scenes.
Also, I agree that sponsors are an integral part of a film, but here it is overdone. R.Balki does that a lot in his films. It is always a major turn off.
However good the film is, the music is undoubtedly the BEST thing about the film.
Sachin Jigar do a fantabulous job and their music only makes the film better. Satrangi re and the garba song look and sound so bloody good. This is their best work since “Happy Ending” for me.
For a full music review of the album, click HERE
“WRONG SIDE RAJU” is definitely not a perfect film. But it is very very near to perfection. Gone are the days of those tacky gujju movies. This movie proves that with a strong script, good music and good acting, any film in any language will do well. It is indeed heartening to see such high quality stuff in Gujarati cinema.
Also, I have always felt that we never support our own regional films. Look at the Telegu, Tamil, Kannada, Bengali and Marathi film industry. These industries flourish because people from those states take interest in these films. We need to do that too. If “Sairat” can make a hundred crores, our movies definitely can. Both “Bey Yaar” and “Kevi rite jaish” had that potential; and so does “Wrong side raju”.
Kudos to the entire team of “WSR”. I thoroughly enjoyed it. You people have set up new standards for our film industry, and it is indeed great that Phantom backed this project.
We are getting there! Slowly, steadily, but surely!
MY RATINGS – 3.5 / 5