Film Review: Wrong Side Raju
Director: Mikhil Musale
Cast: Pratik Gandhi, Asif Basra, Kimberley Louisa McBeath, Kavi Shastri and Hetal Puniwala
Rating: 3 stars
After the success of Kevi Rite Jaish and Bey Yaar director Abhishek Jain had a dream to take Gujarati cinema to a different level and he could accomplish that if he left the creative reins in the hands of an able associate producer and focus his energies to global audience and alter the perception of Gujarati cinema.Phantom Films combined force with CineMan Productions and the result was a three film deal of which Wrong Side Raju is the first.
Set against Gujarat’s infamous hit and run accident case occurred during Navratri festival, the story tells about a resourceful chauffeur Raju Bambani(Pratik Gandhi) employed by a real-estate developer Amitabh Shah(Asif Basra). Shah’s heir Tanmay Shah’s (Kavi Shastri) car one night crashes and kills two policemen on duty and driver Bambani is implicated of the crime.
Written by Karan Vyas and Niren Bhatt what works about Wrong Side Raju is the youthful writing, gripping narrative and Sachin Jigar’s music. The film addresses multiple issues on multiple levels like the social (rich v/s poor) the legal (truth v/s lie) and the moral (wrong v/s right) and makes you empathize with all the characters.
What doesn’t work is the length (the editing could have been sharper) and the pace (the courtroom scenes drag unnecessarily).
All the performances are praise worthy particularly Hetal Puniwala in the role of a lawyer but finally it is a toss between the very effective Asif Basra and endearing Pratik Gandhi.
This is probably the first Gujarati film that pays attention to detailed production design and does not restrict to language boundaries. Kimberley Louisa speaks English; some other characters speak Hindi while the protagonists mostly converse in Gujarati.
In the year 1965 Hindi cinema witnessed Raju/Guide on wrong side of love and committed crime of passion.
Almost 50 years later, in 2016 Gujarati cinema witnesses another Raju, again on the wrong side of law committing another crime of passion.
It is not the name or the message of the film, what appeals is the energy and the irreverence.
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