By Shambhav Pande:
‘Raman Raghav 2.0’ The film is not a biopic of psychopath Raman Raghav, who infested the streets of Mumbai in the mid-1960s, rather, it tries to capture the psyche of the serial killer in a character called Sindhi Daalwai or Raman. In reality, very little is known about Raman Raghav’s early life. But yes, it was discovered that he was involved in stealing ever since he was a child. He had fears that people would put ‘homosexual temptations’ into his mind so that he would somehow succumb and ‘transform’ into a woman. He, also, called himself a representative of ‘kanoon’ (law). Kashyap has beautifully crafted various elements of real life into fictive screenplay.
Characterisation is typical to films of Anurag Kashyap. Robert McKee, in his classic book of screenplay titled ‘Story’, has accurately brought about the distinction between ‘characterisation’ and ‘character’. According to McKee, “Characterisation is the sum of all observable qualities of a human being. Everything knowable through careful scrutiny: age and IQ; sex and sexuality; style of speech and gesture; choices of home, car and dress; education and occupation; personality and nervosity; values and attitudes – all aspects of humanity we could know by taking notes on, someday in and someday out.” On the other hand, “Character is revealed in the choices, a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the greater the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.”
The film, highly influenced by the genre of Film Noir, has a book type screenplay divided into 8 chapters. Each chapter in the film, fills the various details in the lives of the characters, establishing the causality of an action in the movie. The film splits Raman and Raghav as two different characters, whose journeys complement each other.
While Raman is lunatic, creepy, dark and cruel, Raghav is a lecherous and spoilt junkie and misogynist, wearing the uniform of a cop upholding the law of the land. We come to know a little about Raman or Sindh Dehilvi’s character, except for the relationship he had with his sister and how he was influenced by the life of psychopath serial killer Raman Raghav. We see Raman, as an illiterate vagabond, who is too poor to even have meals and survives by eating rats on the streets. Raman’s constant interaction with the pictures of God and his claims that he converses with the almighty, gives a philosophic edge to the film. On the contrary, Raghav is a cokehead since childhood, and is under the control of a strict father who ruthlessly beats his child. The film fills enough details into the characters’ lives to help the viewer’s understand their motivations.
The dialogues of the film couldn’t personify dark humour in a better way on the screen. It has excellent timing and makes you laugh amidst the gore of the film.
‘Raman Raghav 2.0’ touches you at the sensory level. The violent scenes in the film create a spectacle as they give your mind a sudden rush of adrenaline while subsequently leaving upon the viewer, the responsibility to complete the picture of murder. The violence is actually never shown completely, instead, it gives your eyes a thrust and it ends without even showing it on screen. Therefore, the film is a great example of how image and sound can complement each other and vice versa. Indeed, the sound designer Vinit D’Souza and sound editor Jyoti Chetia, should be applauded for the excellent aural dynamics of the film. Ram Sampath’s fabulous musical skills are revealed, not only in the songs which sync well with the situations, but also the background score, which gives the film, its thrill.
As far as the images of the film are concerned, they have the characteristic Kashyap stamp on them. The photography, done by Jay Oza, largely daws from the realist school of thought, with crude and raw aesthetics and handheld camera shots, very typical to a documentary style of filming. Certain shots are beautifully framed, especially, the shot that captures Raman’s eye, which can also be seen in the trailer of the film.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who plays Raman, has given another definition to acting in this film. Indeed, it is his natural style of acting, where you can feel the character’s madness and atrocity while being able to laugh at his humour. Vicky Kaushal, who portrays Raghav, has done a fine job too, but the star of the film is definitely Siddiqui.
The film has several layers and can be read connotatively in various ways. If we do a queer reading for the film, his love for Raghav is quite obvious as he follows him, and even confesses it in the end. Raman is even ready to carry the blame of the murder which Raghav has committed. He is the only one who knows about it and asks him to kill the last witness of the murder, Ankita, who is still alive. It is interesting to trace the journeys of both the characters in the film. Raman brazenly commits crime and accepts it without any regret. Raghav, on the other hand, has stealthily killed people in a rage for the sake of drugs. But, in the end, somehow, the roles have interchanged and now we see Raghav, much like a murderer, going on his final mission of killing Ankita.
The film makes us think of the evil beast within each one of us which is bounded by our social consciousness. It makes us think of people of who find ways and means of doing unlawful acts and justify them using various defences.
The editing of the film, done by Aarti Bajaj, deserves special mention. The prologue of the film itself, hooks the viewer in the cinematic experience. The title sequence combines graphic art, photography, and music into a montage of beautiful images. The editing seems spectacular, especially in the violent scenes; however, the chase sequence could have been edited better. At times, one feels that the film is being dragged, in certain sequences; however, such small fallacies can be largely ignored.
Indeed, the darkness of the psychological thriller, like ‘Raman Raghav 2.0’, enlightens one’s mind to another dimension of creativity. It’s great that Bollywood is bringing such cinema for our audiences, making them not just viewers, but thinkers.