A Technical Accomplishment with as much Heart as Hardware – 4.0/5.0
Virtual reality bites, and it tickles too. Woohoo, computer-generated G: One (Jeevan, get it?) is so goody-good that he would happily chomp a chewing gum made of wood.
And his fi-fie-fo-fum adversary is the eponymous Ra:One (Raavan), a Frankenstein’s monster of sorts who’s as aluminium-plated as pans-`n’-pots. Daft and dotty?
Absolutely, and that’s its strength. The Anubhav Sinha-directed Ra-One revels in being a zippy, zany, zowie ride. And the upbeat news is that the special effects fandango actually works, the closest yet to international standards: in particular a spectacular turvy-topsy car chase through London’s streets, thrilling acrobatic stunts on a Mumbai local train, the collapse of Mumbai’s CST terminal, and a gothic climax that’s dot-on with its micro-chips syntax. So if you’re in a feel-thrill mood, go right ahead and chillax.At the outset, you’re somewhat overloaded with jumbo-mumbo, what with a business-suited videogame executive (Shahana Goswami, competent) lecturing an auditorium packed with Jurassic Park-aged folks about how computer age era technology is as exciting as supping on squishy egg yolks. No jokes. Enter an impressario (Dalip Tahil, an updated Gogia Pasha), who announces that if his corporation’s next video-game doesn’t sell in the market, his employees would have to become waiters in his noodle restaurant. Aaah dim sum, lose some.
That sets the heat on golliwog-haired Shekhar Subramaniam (Shah Ruk Khan, Part One) to devise a game in which evil is awesomely attractive. Jr. Subu (Moppet Silky Hair) loves the concept, for once applauding his MacDaddy, whom he had always dismissed as a nutzoid nerd. Yeah, man Daddy even eats noodles splashed with curd.Yoghurt Suey anyone?
Anyway, so a Shaitan versus Superhero game is launched at a hearty party, which would be the envy of every host from Vijay Mallya to Hugh Hefner. Ulp, then something goes terribly wrong. Like Frankenstein’s monster, Evil Robo goes on the rampage, kills sweet Subramaniam. Eeps, weep.Kid and Mommy Subramaniam (Kareena Kapoor), now, have to save themselves from the killer machine. Woe ho.
It’s after establishing the characters and clarifying the storyline (which could have become a cat’s cradle of confusion) that India’s answer to Hollywood’s superhero blockbusters, becomes truly kickass. The post-intermission reels are riveting, enhanced by the vivaciously choreographed and executed Chhamak Chhalo dance set piece.
By now, the action has moved to Mumbai (oink at points, it resembles a Chennai suburb). Mummy Subramaniam and Moppet are being protected by G-One (Shah Rukh Khan, Part 2), who’s a combo between a robo, android, humanoid, High-pod, Spiderman, and hello, even a touch of Paul Newman, thanks to a pair of oceanic blue eyes. Nice.
Next: the emotional quotient flows freely from the faucet. Robo-Goody is slowly but surely assuming human qualities, oozing love for the Chhamak Mom. Meanwhile, the Evil One has become excessively menacing (Arjun Rampal), stepping out of a cool cologne ad, to halt at a Dassera effigy burning (stylishy shot), and then take on Blue Eyes at a location straight out of a nightmare. A nail biter.
Spectacular production design, an irreverent post-modernist attitude, action interludes and the jaguar-tempo carry the enterprise forward throughout. A sporting guest appearance by Rajnikanth (whose Robot was set on the same special effects-turf), the R.D. Burman-like aalap in the background score, Vishal-Shekhar’s inspired dance- friendly songs and an approach that asserts just-go-with-the-FX flow, transport our actioner bonanzas to quite another level altogether.
On the downside, the lapses into profanities and even vulgarity are beyond your comprehension. A bunch of keys lands er..in..a woman’s bosom, Good-One places his hand on Mummy’s ditto, puns are made out of cuss words (D.K. Bose ka influence, kya?), and there are far too many references to condoms. Plus, a gay interlude at an airport security frisking is strictly ho-ho-hum.
Indeed, all these elements are as avoidable as the prologue featuring Sanjay Dutt, Priyanka Chopra and nods to Jackie Chan, not to forget a song grab from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Admittedly, the reference to three Lady Bruce Lees is a laugh-out-loud moment.
Of the cast, Arjun Rampal albeit in a brief role, is effective. Kareena Kapoor appears to be more interested in being yummy than a mummy. Child actor Armaan Verma
is impressively at ease.
Undoubtedly, the extravaganza belongs to Shah Rukh Khan. He’s ultra- high on energy and on infecting the viewer with his distinctive brand of tongue-in-chic chutzpah.
Why the four stars? you may cavil. Answer: why not? Here’s a technical accomplishment with as much heart as hardware.