Anurag Kashyap’s flair for churning out unconventional cinematic pieces is something that warrants appreciation. Raman Raghav 2.0 is certainly not a film that you could expect out of a run-of-the-mill filmmaker. The director (who has also co-written the screenplay along with Vasan Bala) is known for not making compromises in the name of ‘commercial cinema’ and with RR 2.0, he simply reinstates this verity.
The film is divided into different chapters that delve deep into the state of mind of the hunter and the hunted. The pacing of the first half is pitch-perfect and the director succeeds in [metaphorically] grabbing the viewers by the throat and pasting them on a wall, subjecting them to the murderous and drug-infested backdrop of the central characters Ramanna (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and Raghavan (played by Vicky Kaushal) respectively. The noticeable factor in Kashyap’s films is the subtle maintenance of tone. He never attempts to overrun genres simply for the sake of it. The undercurrent of dark humor is not forced at all. You barely know the characters that Ramanna murders (most of the time, except for his sister’s family) as he picks them mostly on a random basis. The viewer is never handed out an option to feel exceptionally grim just because a murder took place. We know that they are going to continue because Ramanna is Ramanna. Nawazuddin makes sure Ramanna stays in our minds for quite a long time. The scar on his head, the earrings, the sunglasses (which he procures midway through the film), the shabby garments that he wears, his wry smile, pretty much everything is on-point. Said to be based on a real-life serial killer, Nawaz coerces us to buy into his outlandish perspectives with ease.
The surprise element here is Vicky Kaushal’s character Raghavan. He is no super-cop. He is a drug-addict who treats his woman badly, and is almost disowned by his father (which is portrayed through an incident). There is barely anything that he clings himself onto, except for his steady intake of cocaine. The character sketch is comparatively hazy in the beginning but the scenes in the latter half shed ample light on his psyche. Kaushal maintains a deadpan expression throughout, which is pretty much all that is required of him. He is revealed to be an insomniac as well, and wears sunglasses all the time, even in the middle of the night, to conceal his sleeplessness and lethargy. Sobhita Dhulipala in a de-glam avatar plays her part sublimely. In fact, hers is the only character in the film that sanctions a bit of empathy.
Musical score by Ram Sampath complements the mood of the film pretty well and the songs are not mere gap-fillers. They convey the internal turmoil of the characters rather deviously. “Qatl-e-Aam”, “Behooda” and “Paani Ka Rasta” are all decently rendered. The film mostly shuttles between the slums and lowly neighborhoods of Mumbai. The guerrilla-styled cinematography is reasonably delightful and takes the viewer on a roller-coaster ride, with deliberate slacking in pace at certain occasions. The stand-out scene IMO would be the one where Ramanna elucidates how Raghavan is his soul-mate, and how the two are going to be inseparable. Pure stroke of genius!
Kashyap is righteously back-to-form with Raman Raghav 2.0 and as a viewer, I sincerely hope he continues to make the world, and not just Bollywood, perceive his work.
***1/2 stars out of five
Watch the trailer here: