After the massive debacle of Bombay Velvet, (which was an attempt to go mainstream!), director Anurag Kashyap reportedly went through a phase of anger and depression. For his next film he goes back to his comfort zone. Kashyap, as a director and a producer, has always been most comfortable depicting a wild, weird, warped world; and in Raman Raghav 2.0 he does go back to that theme by delving into a serial killer’s crazy mind.
A disclaimer informs us in the beginning that the movie is not about the real life serial killer Raman Raghav, who dominated headlines in the late 1960s and died in 1995, after spending many years behind the bars.
The killer (who is named Raman here!) is penned by Kashyap and his co-writer Vasan Bala and they go all out to make him pure evil. He is a man raised in squalor who has no qualms about morals; who mercilessly smashes his victims with an iron rod and proudly accepts his crimes. Nawazuddin Siddiqui brings that well-etched dark character into life. The scarred face, the cool cunning eyes; the total lack of remorse; the predator prowl and the frighteningly casual attitude….Siddiqui once again proves that he is a real chameleon who can change colors at will according to the character.
Kashyap sure knows how to tell grim and gory stories of sick characters in sordid settings. Drugs, sex, violence, abuse, incest, murder….his by now standard arsenal of themes is all there. The first half of the film which deals mainly with Raman’s story is gripping. The realistic feel and good supporting cast are assets.
It is the second half of the film and the parallel plot-line, which badly falls apart. This incoherent, pretentious plot focusses on Raghav, the cop who is investigating Raman’s serial murders. The writers instead of keeping it a ‘cop chases a criminal’ kind of a simple story, try to give it moral complexity by showing Raghav as a severely flawed police officer, who is perpetually high on drugs, a man who shares uneasy relationship with his abusive father and who is himself abusive to the girl-friend. This vain attempt to show the cop and the killer as two sides of the same coin proves to be the film’s main undoing, as does Masaan-fame Vicky Kaushal’s listless performance as Raghav.
This flawed film about flawed characters stands out for one reason alone and that is Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s chilling portrayal. Watch it only for him and that too, if you have the stomach for Kashyap’s kind of dark cinema!