How RAEES (2016) Can Avoid Being The Typical Shahrukh Khan Movie
Critically acclaimed Director Rahul Dholakia will be directing the super mega awesome star Shahrukh Khan (note hint of sarcasm) in the upcoming ‘Raees’ set to release in 2016. At first glance, ‘Raees’ is not at all like the typical movie that the “King Khan” is associated with. The final frame of the teaser trailer released earlier (my in depth breakdown can be found here) shows a hint of the actor in prosthetics and make-up to age him considerably. This may be a tiny glimpse into the lengths that Khan may go to for the role, which is that of a an alcohol smuggler/bootlegger, set against the backdrop of a very real tumultious Gujarat in 1980. Anticipation is high on ‘Raees’ being Shahrukh Khan’s return to more serious cinema that isn’t all hugs and bedroom eyes.
Given that, here are 3 ways that ‘Raees’ could avoid being the typical Shahrukh Khan movie.
Go Beyond Skin Deep
While some Bollywood actors are starting to go the distance in preparing for their roles, thanks to uber perfectionist Aamir Khan, certain actors are too afraid to break out of their comfort zone, at the risk of alienating their core demographic. Which means less ass in seats, translating into less Box Office returns. Khan is one of these actors, whose only preparation for a role goes as far as a changing hairstyle, which is still a mild variation on his existing focus group approved look, or revamping his fitness routine around which the marketing campaign of his next release will be built.
‘Raees’ however, looking like it will be the story of a the rise and fall of the smuggling career of the lead character, could be Shahrukh Khan’s chance at doing more than just superficial changes, but actually getting into the skin of his character. The teaser implies an aged look for Khan, which may not be all that flattering. It’s reminiscent of the look that Abhishek Bachchan sported for the 3rd act of Mani Ratnam’s ‘Guru’, where the actor himself gained weight to realistically portray a pot bellied, older character. If Khan chooses to follow in these footsteps and portray a character who loses his hair and gains weight as he ages, it would be a fantastically surprising departure, and may actually cause him to gain back the respect of that section of his audience who have nothing but contempt for his work now.
Skip The Hero Routine
While morality isn’t an important aspect of character development in Bollywood, with supposed heroes mercilessly murdering people left and right without consequences, ‘Raees’ would be better served by portraying the lead exactly as what he is, a criminal; at best, an anti-hero. The main character portrayed by Khan is set up in the teaser as being entreprenual with his main goal being to succeeed and make money. Let’s leave it at that. There shouldn’t be any romantisizing of this, and the characater’s flaws should be visible, and more importantly, should exist!
If Writer / Director Dholakia succumbs to the pressure of making a commercial film for a large studio, and depicts the character as a righteous ‘hero’ who can do no wrong, the film will fail in many ways. ‘Raees‘ needs to veer away from any attempts at trying to make the character noble or righteous, and explicitly showcase how far a person breaking the law to create an empire, is willing to go.
Don’t Water Down The Subject Matter (pun intended)
While the movie’s story is about bootlegging during Gujarat’s prohibiton on alcohol, ‘Raees’ is also said to deal with prostitution and illegal drug industries of the state as well. These hard hitting topics are what is really surprising about this movie, and what stands out the most considering that the family friendly Shahrukh Khan is the headlining star. The most crude and/or offensive things in a Shahrukh Khan movie are poop and gay jokes. Even the more ‘socially relevant’ films that Khan has done recently, such as religious discrimination against Muslims in ‘My Name Is Khan’ & ‘Chak De India‘, have been done so in the mildest of ways, with more emphasis on emotional drama than graphic realism. So it’s going to be interesting as hell watching him in a movie that deals with these brutally destructive social issues.
If the movie is able to depict the harshness of a state polluted by these acts, and how the main character either navigates them, or even uses them to his advantage, then ‘Raees’ can stand out as being one of Shahrukh Khan’s best films to date, returning him to the dramatic days of ‘Darr‘ and films where he didn’t center his performance around what the audience expects of him, but rather to push his limits as an actor and get out of his comfort zone.
‘Raees’ releases July 3rd, 2016.
Will ‘Raees’ be as successful as the typical SRK movie?
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