“Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out” – Martin Scorsese
The initially-proposed name for the film was Jai Ram Ji Ki which was later changed to Bullett Raja on Nawaab Saab, Saif Ali Khan’s suggestion. However, even that failed to trigger the entertainment bullet out of the muzzle. With much buzz around the film, it is pretty clear that the film will rake in enough moolah to cover its production cost but what it does in return is, it gives us a film that is the least-bit entertaining.
The bubble bursts as soon as the film takes off. Opening with credits, the film shows a chase between Raja Misra (Saif Ali Khan) and some goons. To hide from the troublemakers, Raja takes shelter in a passing baraat and becomes a bin bulaya baraati. Here he meets Rudra Tripathy (Jimmy Sheirgill) and soon the two hit it off. On the wedding night, Raja and Rudra save the householder from a major tragedy inflicted upon him by his own employee Lallan (Chunky Pandey). With the Jai-Veeru-esque fight that the duo put up, they become a target of the local mafia. Mafia tries to chase them down and kill them but it fails to do so. In the safety of the prison walls now, the two meet Srivastav who is a political magnate. Srivastav asks the two to become official shooters for a politician fondly called as Dada (Raj Babbar). In no time, this duo rises to become bahubalis (henchmen) of the region which certainly reminds you of a dialogue from Satya, "Criminals hum nahi banate, system banata hai,” but that’s that. The two never look back. One thing leads to another and the two get caught in a dirty political ploy and what follows is a revenge game.
The game of revenge is often played out in most of the films and so, there seems to be nothing unique that the film tries to depict. In simpler words, it is Jai-Veeru ka pyaar in a political backdrop. As the story of the film advances, it takes you places – Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata – but it leaves no picturesque imagery. Taking the characters to places also makes the story go hither-thither. Gradually, it reflects that the film’s story is perhaps loosely-scripted and would have done better, had the director stuck to a single place. What the film does is, it merely cuts the surface and fails to probe within. The story is based on two friends who are goons and a fight that’s ensued on different fronts – politics, industrialists and mafias. The depiction of bahubalis is also less appealing which reminds me of renowned film critic Roger Ebert’s quote “It’s not what a movie is about; it’s how it is about it”. Dialogues of the film were touted to be A-rated but looks like the trailer used up all the good dialogues to endorse the film. There are subtle comments on a contemporary political scenario which reminds you of regional politics but then it leaves us with a question as to why is there any need for this? The film was supposed to be about UP, right? Irrfan Khan who was initially signed for Vidyut Jamwal’s role did better by walking out of the film, be it because of the date clash or something else. The film could have done well without the presence of the Commando. Same goes for Sonakshi Sinha, whose reel name was unspoken for the longest time, which happens to be Mitali! To add to that, Sonakshi is much like any internet browser’s extension or plug-in, the system can do very well without it.
Coming to the technicalities, the initial opening frames look like tons of unedited frames have been flung at you simultaneously. Further, it lacks smooth transition. The songs look like they have been forced to be a part of the film (picture a reluctant editor and a persistent director arguing over the song insertion in the film). The film uses some Texan-style slash Kill-Bill-ish background score which piques viewer curiosity making him expect something extraordinary but what turns out is ordinary, there is not much you can expect out of the film. It is highly-predictable!
Tigmanshu Dhulia established his signature style with the success of films like – Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster, Paan Singh Tomar, Shagird, to name a few, however Bullett Raja lacks Dhulia’s style of storytelling. In a cut-throat competition to bring out the best gangster flick, (considering films of Omkara, Gangs of Wasseypur, Satya amongst the nominated films), Bullett Raja loses hands down. Saif Ali Khan was heard to have said that he was too keen on playing such a character as it would change his image; the film certainly leaves that area untouched and Saif’s dream unfulfilled. Saif can sure wait for something worth, perhaps a film like Paan Singh Tomar.
The grapevine has it that many production houses come up with Box Office flops with an intention to show losses on the balance sheets, Bullett Raja looks like an idea born out of such a thought! And for Saif, Langada Tyagi was much better than Bullett Raja aka Raja Misra!