Some questions arise after Raabta has been seen, chief amongst which is one that comes up every time Bollywood tries, and fails, to do a cracking romance. Why is Bollywood incapable of pulling off a full-length film with a pair of lovers connecting, pulling apart, coming together?
Sometimes, in the pursuit of true love, a life-time can be too little. Here we spend two and a half hours with Shiv (Sushant Singh Rajput), Saira (Kriti Sanon) and Zak (Jim Sarbh), and it seems endless, simply because after a nice start, the film goes downhill shockingly rapidly. And stays there.
For the purpose of the record, we note that the trio—both Shiv and Zak are vying for the affections of the pretty Saira — are given Budapest as a scenic playground. The city is used well, and there are enough sparks between Shiv, banker and incorrigible flirt, and Saira, baker and maker of delicious pastry, to keep us engaged.
And then the film takes a backward leap into the past, and it’s all south from there on. There’s only a glancing plot-point resemblance to SS Rajamouli’s ‘Magadheera’: the rest is all clunky computer graphics and waterfalls and growling-warriors-spouting-pidgin and one of our best actors (Rajkummar Rao) hidden under layers of latex. Rajput has moments he makes the most of, but suavity is not one of his strengths. Sanon is a surprise, having made clear strides since we saw her last, but a little more depth in the way she was written would have been welcome. Ditto with the thinly-conceived-villain-of-the-piece Sarbh, who is totally over-the-top.
And that brings us back to the questions. Why does the plot, which has no trouble stitching scenes in which Rajput and Sanon display credible chemistry– good to see the heady attraction between girl and guy leading to a logical combust–suddenly slide? Where does the focus go?
As you sit there wondering when all of it—involving a ‘dhumketu tara’ which will be near the earth after 800 years, underwater jugglery, and borrowed flashes from various films– will end, it comes to you l: this is no rom com. It is just a big rom con.