Disclaimer: Before you scroll down to find how many stars or what numerical rating I’ve given this film, let me make it clear that I believe in descriptive reviews rather than a quantitative verdict. Some of the past Gujarati Film Review Blogs to know how I review:
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‘Wrong Side Raju’ is the first Gujarati movie of Phantom Films and the third of CineMan Productions. It is directed by Mikhil Musale. Considering the track-record of both the movie houses, the expectation from ‘Wrong Side Raju’ was sky high. CineMan has delivered two consecutive hits and Phantom Films has multiple successful films to its credit (Yes I do know about Bombay Velvet, but that is another topic for another day). The premier of this film was held on 6th September, 2016 at Mumbai and 7th September, 2016 at Ahmedabad and I watched it in the latter.
Quite often it is said that one should watch a movie with an open mind with no pre-conceived notions. Perhaps, this is what took me a long time to blog about the movie, for my mind has been in a constant conflict between my pre-film thoughts and the actual film. The story and the climax that I had thought of and predicted was way different from what it was in the film. This suspense thriller with a chutki (big one) of romance and emotions has a climax which you would have never thought of (unless you are Karan Vyas, Mikhil Musale and Niren Bhatt), and will put you in a puzzled state, and to people like me this will go on for several hours. ‘Truth is stranger than fiction’ aptly fits in here.
The film revolves around Raju (as the name suggests), played by Pratik Gandhi. Raju Bambani (full name) is a young Amdavadi chhokro who works as a driver in the day and as a bootlegger by night. On one ‘happening’ night (which was a Navratri night by the way and the quoted word is not for what ‘happens’ in the festival), Raju’s life takes a turn when his boss (and son of a rich and well-known lawyer cum builder) Tanmay Shah (played by Kavi Shastri) takes a turn in his car. This turn is the reason for all the twists and turns of the film and I emphasize that you watch this turn carefully (and not the WhatsApp messages) in the cinema hall, for all that happens is around this. Post this, there is a lot of blame-game, accusations, legal battle and hunt for the truth. Oh by the way, if you thought ‘Shaily Medam’ (played by Kimberley Louisa McBeath) is in the movie to fulfill the ‘mandatory actress requirement’, you can definitely not predict the climax. Enough said!
Sachin-Jigar have composed the music for ‘Wrong Side Raju’ and Niren Bhatt has penned down the lyrics. “Satrangi Re” sung by Arijit Singh and Dawn Cordo is my favorite of the five songs. “Amdavad Re” sung by Vishal Dadlani takes the 5th position in my list. The music is engaging and appealing and I could see a lot of people humming it.
There is no disappointment when it comes to the product. The cinematic experience is at par with Bollywood, if not more. Direction, screenplay, cinematography, dialogues – all seem perfect. Except the language of the film (and people munching on popcorns noisily), there is no reason that will make you feel that you’re watching a Gujarati film (in Gujarat). The overall experience of the movie is delightful and a total paisa-vasool!
Overall, the film is moving and a positive change in the otherwise comedy dominated regional cinema. It is of utmost importance that we explore parallel cinema and this film has successfully entered into new waters. The speed of the film (at certain instances) was a bit of turnoff, however that won’t affect its box office collection. ‘Wrong Side Raju’ will certainly hit a hat-trick for CineMan and an opening homerun for Phantom, and also raise the benchmark for Abhishek Jain‘s third directorial film, which I’m sure he’ll ace!