Former A-list Canadian-Indian porn star Sunny Leone, now a Bollywood starlet, sizzles with Shah Rukh Khan in this throwback to vintage vigilante Hindi blockbusters. Set in Gujarat, a ‘dry’ Indian State since prohibition was introduced in 1960, this lengthy film charts the rise of Raees (Khan), a Muslim kid who grows up to become the chief bootlegger and king mobster in the State of Gandhi’s birth. Predictably, there’s a no-nonsense honest cop (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) in hot pursuit, but he’s constantly foiled by our charming villain.
Khan continues his quest to become a proper badass action superstar, and largely succeeds. With his pumped up bod, mascara-lined eyes and confident swagger, the actor gets to kick, shoot and run over rooftops. Director Rahul Dholakia stops short of portraying Raees as a ruthless murderer – probably hindered by the immense star power of Khan, whose fans may not accept their ultimate romantic hero as a serious baddie. Instead, Raees is shown as a Robin Hood figure who cooks a mean curry for his pretty wife Aasiya (Mahira Khan) and sings love songs to her before heading out to brutally knock off his opponents.
The result is a slick and enjoyable but largely unremarkable masala flick, though it does feature an unashamedly confident and realistic portrayal of ordinary Muslim lives – still a rare thing in a mainstream Bollywood movie.