Half a star
I had a choice: it was either Bullett Raja or R…Rajkumar. I chose the first but only because the trailer showed some signs of comic relief and also because I don’t particularly like Shahid Kapoor. I rushed in two minutes late, right into Mahie Gill’s dharakta chest and the spectacularly meaningless song “Don’t Touch My Body”. (Her actions certainly suggest otherwise.) Jumping into the perversion, crotch-first, are Saif Ali Khan and Jimmy Shergill, along with 10 other shark-eyed men. After the premature and tasteless song break, director Tigmanshu Dhulia begins the story.
In order to escape a bunch of goons who are chasing him for some unknown reason, Raja Misra (Saif Ali Khan), our unemployed hero, gate-crashes a wedding. At the party, Raja befriends Rudra (Jimmy Shergill) a seeda saada postman. When the party suddenly turns into a bloody gunfight between local landowners, they are forced to team up and kill a dozen men. (You know, NBD.) And so begins a deep Amitabh-Dharmendra friendship, and the two eventually become accidental gangsters for the good of the people.
Never mind the abruptness and unlikelihood of this transformation into fearless bhais. The Bullet bike–riding men start raising hell in Lucknow, and their “street-cleaning” reputation gets them the backing of powerful state minister Ram Babu Shukla (Raj Babbar). Becoming Shukla’s right hand men gives them even more of a power-rush, and that rubs some people the wrong way. During one of their adventures, Raja meets Mitali (Sonakshi Sinha), a wannabe actress who comes to a hotel room to meet a shady film producer. After the boys rescue her and threaten the financier, Bajaj (Gulshan Grover), Mitali happily moves into the home of Raja and Rudra,–because, you know, that is the absolute right thing to do–shelving her Bollywood dream to fry lucchis for their goony pals. The rest of the movie sees Raja and Rudra go up against their now arch nemesis Bajaj in a series of over-dramatised chases and un-shocking twists.
Bullett Raja’s script is similar to many other Uttar Pradesh–based gangster films, which makes it predictable. First and foremost is its use of a clichéd storyline—commoners turned into Robin Hood–esque hooligans. Plus Dhulia makes it a point to ruralise everything—thick dialects (remember Misra without the ‘h’), extra crisp kurtas, glorified tobacco chewing, and generous doses of open fields, opium poppies in this case. The other thing that bothered me was the romance aspect. Dhulia introduces a sketchily written eye-candy role that is without substance and aptly uses Sonakshi Sinha for the job. Sinha’s roles since her debut in Dabangg are just baffling. Film after film, she plays the same bimbo with no real dialogues. You’d think she would have mastered the damsel in distress character by now, but she still can’t act even if her life depended on it. Even among the veterans, the acting is unimpressive. Khan does his usual barrel-chested, mediocre schtick, but gets good support from Shergill.
The unnecessary animosity and bloodshed among people who try to govern the state from the other side of the law is very predictable. With Bullett Raja, Dhulia seems to have exploited all aspects of static Bollywood formulas from good-bad heroes, devilish villains, damsels in distress, and corrupt government across UP.
The verdict: a total waste of 138 minutes. —REENA KARIM