It isn’t easy, making a movie about a serial killer. The maker has to walk the fine line between judgment and deification, whilst refraining from the cheap thrill of titillating the audience with the graphic details. However, serial killers do make for a fascinating subject, no matter how many movies have been made in the past on them, because it is always interesting to get a glimpse into the psyche of somebody who kills without remorse, without any compunction and without any emotion. Raman Raghav was one of India’s most vicious and deranged serial killers. Therefore when a filmmaker like Anurag Kashyap decides to make a movie about a serial killer inspired to kill by the tale of Raman Raghav, and casts Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the part, it is safe to say that the audience is in for something deeply dark and disturbing. But does the final product ultimately deliver on the promise?
Ramana (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is a deranged serial killer, who roams the streets of Mumbai hunting for his next victim. He is a remorseless killer, and has no specific pattern, but kills at random for the sheer pleasure of it. Raghavan (Vicky Kaushal) is a cop grappling with his own inner demons stemming from a drug addiction and a strained relationship with his father. When Raghavan chances upon a series of murders carried out by Ramana, the killer ends up developing a strange fascination for the cop, leading to a cat and mouse relationship between the two, with the hunt taking a toll on Raghavan’s sanity and his rather skewed sense of morality.
Very few directors can capture the dark side of the Maximum City, the way Anurag Kashyap does. Aided by Jay Oza’s top notch cinematography and razor sharp editing by Aarti Bajaj, every grimy bit of Bombay is on display here. But beyond this, there is absolutely nothing in the movie that ends up staying with you as you walk out of the theatre. The movie ends up being nothing more than a pointless exercise in shock value. Anurag Kashyap and Vasan Bala have written a story that aims at being an unrelenting look at the dark side of humanity, but somehow that just doesn’t come through. And that shows through the entire movie where instead of being filled with dread and anticipating Ramana’s next move, the audience ends up shuttling between boredom, disgust and at times, mild amusement.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui just goes from strength to strength in each movie, and it is a testimonial to his talent, that he can make even the most underwritten part seem fleshed out, be it the recent Te3n or this. He is the only reason that the audience manages to get to the end. Vicky Kaushal however suffers the most from an underdeveloped character, and somehow, the inner conflict that he seems to be going through doesn’t really register an impact. Except for one brilliant scene where he loses his temper rather violently with his father, his performance comes off as that of a headless chicken fluttering around. Sobhita Dhulipala makes a rather passable debut as Raghavan’s masochistic girlfriend, but there isn’t much to be said about her performance.
To sum it all up, Raman Raghav 2.0 is to Anurag Kashyap, what Dilwale was to Rohit Shetty, an attempt to coast through with mediocre writing, by casting top notch performers. But sadly, it just isn’t enough.