Five minutes into the movie as a romantic song starts to play, I relax in my seat. I can already see the makings of a typical Ajay Devgn entertainer and I know I am going to walk out of the hall mildly, if not highly, satisfied. Set in the 80s, the movie is about the longest income tax raid made by the IT department of India in Lucknow and is based on true events. With Ileana D’Cruz playing the straight-outta-Barfi doting wife, Saurabh Shukla the typical cuddly anti-hero and Ajay Devgn, the strong-standing imaandar man, the movie has its basics right. Add to that a pinch of on-point comic timing and good ol’ (but not overwhelming) patriotism and voila, you've got a crowd pleaser.
The movie is crisp and tight, and doesn’t leave you yawning, but it may leave you rolling your eyes during some moments. (Spoiler alert: You’ve got a bit of Indira Gandhi in there, too.) However, it’s not your typical Airlift with a 10-minute flag raising ceremony at the end so you live through it. The story flows easily, with an appropriate soundtrack by Amit Trivedi. Even the Black Jama Hai song had the right beats to pump you up. What troubled me were the romantic songs which seemed sudden, out of place and rather unnecessary.
Ajay Devgn plays the part of Amay Patnaik quite well. Patnaik is a rule abiding Government official who kind of looks like Singham and Vijay Salgaon from Drishyam; not that I am complaining. Devgn has figured out his magic formula and it seems to be working for him quite well. So much so that now I can't imagine anyone pulling off signature Ajay Devgn straight-faced dialogues like "Subah subah main mazak nahi karta" and "Khaali haath toh main sirf apni sasural se vapis lauta tha..."
Ileana stands strong… on the sidelines. I would have liked to see more of her but I am also quick to understand that this was no Queen and the lens was rolling from the hero’s point of view. Saurabh Shukla, like always, stole the show for me. The actor's screen presence has, more often than not, left me in awe and Raid was no exception. He got the nuance of his character right - from the pride to the stupidity.
All in all, Raid doesn't disappoint and with this year's track record in movies till now, that's saying something.
POPxo rates: 3/5 stars