Raabta (2017): Movie Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Raabta, directed by Dinesh Vijan, stars Sushant Singh Rajput, Kriti Sanon and Jim Sarbh are in the lead roles. The romantic thriller that’s co-produced by Bhushan Kumar, Homi Adajania, and Vijan himself. Raabta is the latest chapter in Bollywood’s long tradition of reincarnation tales such as Milan (1967), Mehbooba (1976), Karz (1980), Karan Arjun (1995), and Om Shanti Om (2007). Raabta features a cameo appearance from the Nation Award-winning actor Rajkummar Rao who plays the part of a 324-year-old soothsayer.

Raabta has been in news for months now, long before its trailer was released, with reports of a burgeoning affair between Sushant Singh Rajput and Kriti Sanon doing rounds in the gossip columns. Raabta got engulfed in a major controversy following the launch of its trailer with the makers of the Telugu film Magadheera pressing plagiarism charges against the film. However, the charges were later withdrawn after an out-of-court settlement was reached between the two parties.  Raabta features an item number performed by Deepika Padukone who has previously worked in Adajania’s films like Cocktail and Finding Fanny.

Raabta can best be described as a bizarre cinematic mishmash. And that’s mainly because the movie has both commercial and experimental elements. But that’s quite expected with the likes of Adajania and Vijan on board. Raabta is an ambitious venture and no wonder the project was marred by production delays. Let’s first look at the movie’s plus points. The movie’s production value appears to be reasonably high and deservedly so. The Budapest scenes are well shot and go really well with the movie’s modern feel. Also, the editing is quite neat, ensuring that the two stories—both the present day as well as the reincarnation one—are well tied together.

The first half of Raabta has all the makings of a solid rom-com. Yes, it makes for an alluring boy meets girl story. The guy is a flirtatious Punjabi banker (though, we never really get to see him at work) working in Budapest, Hungary. And we have a pretty but rather reserved girl of Indian origin running a confectionary shop in Budapest. They meet and it is love at first sight. Well, almost! The girl keeps having these weird dreams but is unable to ravel the mystery behind them. She, however, begins to feel better once she starts seeing him.

Remember, these are modern Indians living in a European country. So they sleep together even before getting committed to one another. We soon find out that the girl already has a boyfriend. But the guy is determined and he succeeds in winning her over. Wait, before you start guessing what’s coming next.  Rest assured, there are no parent issues here. After all, this is not the ‘90s and the days of DDLJ are long gone. This is more like a rehash of the Tamasha and Befikre.     

But unlike those two films we have a reincarnation angle here. As you would have guessed it by now, the two were lovers in their previous lives (centuries ago) as well but someone prevented them from consummating their love and so they are reborn to unite once again. But there is a twist in the tale. For the villain from their earlier lives too has returned. And, he is stronger than ever. The movie’s second half takes us back in time as we get to witness what had actually happened centuries ago to these three individuals.

The flashback scenes look lavish and succeed in giving a nice period touch. They seem somewhat by inspired by the Baahubali saga. But the problem here is with conviction. Most viewers would find it a bit difficult to digest. The contrast between the two tales is quite stark and although the editing does a good job of weaving them together one wonders how much of it would get accepted. Instead of the clichéd reincarnation angle, this could very well have been two parallel stories, more like Love Aaj Aur Kal.

Sushant Singh Rajput is a talented actor and here he seems to have a done a Ranveer Singh better than Ranveer Singh himself. In the period scenes he exudes a different intensity all together, playing the part of a ferocious warrior transfixed by a woman’s earthy beauty. As for Kriti Sanon, she looks prettier than ever and may remind some of a young Raveena Tandon. One of the strong points of Raabta is Jim Sarbh’s performance (remember the cranky terrorist in Neerja?). He is an actor to watch out for. While Raabta has its moments it doesn’t really offer anything that we haven’t already seen. Also, beyond a point, it gets too difficult to digest.

Rating: 5/10

A version of this review was first published in Wittyfeed.

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