Movie Review: ‘Raja Natwarlal’ by Neha Ravindran

Movie: Raja Natwarlal
Director: Kunal Deshmukh
Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Humaima Malik, Paresh Rawal, Kay Kay Menon, Deepak Tijori
Genre: Thriller

There are three things you need to know and be prepared for, before buying tickets for an Emraan Hashmi movie.
a) He has a devotional fan following who will hoot, scream and whistle for him in the movie theatre, every time he romances or kisses the heroine;
b) His lady love was signed into the movie not as a heroine but as a living-moving prop; and
c) He brings forth nothing new into the characters he is potraying.

Kunal Deshmukh teams up with Emraan Hashmi for the third time with this week’s latest release –Raja Natwarlal. For those of you who don’t know Natwarlal, he is India’s famous conman who happened to sell the Taj Mahal, Red Fort and the Parliament house (along with the sitting members) to his unsuspecting (stupid?!) targets. The movie has no connection with the ‘legend’ himself, other than a few references to his life. Raja (Emraan Hashmi)is a small-time conman along with Raghav (Deepak Tijori). The love of his life Ziya (Humaima Malik) is a bar dancer and Raja blows up all his money to see his lady-love dance for him. In his ambition to rake up more money, he convinces Raghav to partner with him for a bigger game plan. With a fool(ish) proof plan, they succeed in looting hundreds of rupees and turn crorepati over night. Only they are unaware that they had crossed paths with a multi crore sinister businessman Vardha Yadav (Kay Kay Menon). Their luck runs out as Raghav is gunned down by Vardha’s hit men and now their target is Raja. Raja must look out for his life and at the same time seek revenge for the death of his brother like partner. He seeks out an ex-conman Yogi (Paresh Rawal) and together they spin an elaborate net to con Vardha by selling him a fake cricket team.

I was at loggerheads with the film within the first few scenes itself. A well dressed stylish Emraan Hashmi fails to fit into the character of a conman who has to plan his everyday by pick pocketing or tricking people into losing their money and neither does Humaima fit the bill of a bar dancer with a polished language and a well-to-do apartment. Though Humaima barely has the script to experiment with her acting, she does a decent job with whatever has been doled out to her.

The real ‘hero’ for me in the movie was Kay Kay Menon in the negative role. A fantastic actor and a pleasure to watch, he lives upto the expectations from him. He breathes the character of Vardha Yadav to the core and is dark, enigmatic, cold but passionate, all at the same time. Paresh Rawal follows close behind, more so because he cannot but be a fine actor that he is. His character is given no space to explore the world of a con artist and though Paresh Rawal brings the best on screen, we know how much more better an actor he is. The songs in the movie can be at best described average, however the settings in Cape Town, where a good part of the movie is shot, is definitely a treat to watch.

By the end of the movie I was left wondering if conning was this easy, then every street in India would have one Natwarlal in the making. All you need is a little confidence (over if you please), hell lot of money to book all the best hotels in towns for meetings with your target and some easy-to-do tricks for getting your way through high security venues. Simple! So the next time, you plan to play a bada haath watch out for bollywood’s outlandish con movies. Raja Natwarlal joins the league of ‘mass entertaining’ movies where reality and cinema take shelter under the same banner called masala movie. Watch it if that’s all you care for, but if your heart awaits better features, well then television is your only rescue for the weekend.

My Verdict: **

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