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Review: The Adrenalin-Pumping Gore In ‘Raman Raghav 2.0’ Is Classic Kashyap

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.

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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.

Vicky Kaushal (L) and Nawazuddin Siddiqui (R)

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.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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