‘Rajdhani Express’ review: An existential view of our society
There are movies that teach, like ‘3 Idiots’. There are movies that make a call for action, like ‘Rang De Basanti’. There are movies that show the so-called reality, like ‘Chakravyuh’. And then there’s ‘Rajdhani Express’, a movie that does all of that without getting all loud-and-shouty about it.
Crisp editing, strong compelling shots and an intriguing narrative have you gripped right from the start as the story follows a loosely non-linear timeline, with flashbacks of the past and memories of the protagonist Keshav, played by tennis ace Leander Paes, woven in seamlessly.
The story is simply what happens when four people, from different backgrounds and walks of life, share a first class compartment in the Rajdhani Express, traveling from Delhi to Mumbai.
First up, there’s the wonderfully Bengali PC Bannerjee, played by the fabulously talented Priyanshu Chatterjee. The philosophy-reading, light-hearted, rum-drinking Bong provides the movie’s comic relief as well as the most poignant dialogues and none of it seems out of place.
Then there’s Munish, played by Sudhanshu Pandey, a tall, fair and handsome man from the world of fashion, too vain for the streets, disdainful of the lower class and terribly posh. If Bannerjee represents an average middle class man, Munish definitely is the snobbish upper class.
There’s also the promiscuous Bollywood-aspiring, morally-unsound item-number performing Sunita, played by the unconvincing Puja Bose. She has the glamour and show of the upper middle class, aspiring towards the higher class but morals of one willing to do anything to get what she wants. While the character may have been intriguing and well-built, Puja Bose’s acting is a serious impediment, with her range of expressions being limited to an excruciatingly narrow repertoire of emotions.
The fourth, and most important, character is Keshav, played by debutante Leander Paes. The story is essentially about him, even as it holds a message that goes far beyond who he is. He represents the lower class and has an enigmatic intrigue about him. The movie shuttles back-and-forth, revolving around his present and past. Lee does well for his first movie and does justice to the fascinating character that is Keshav. One tends to even forget that it’s the tennis ace playing the role which is helpful as well.
Much of the movie features just these four characters and is perhaps a subtle indication of the interaction between the classes in India. Strong dialogues and a neat background score help the movie move along at a steady and convenient pace, while the lack of distractions like unnecessary songs or meaningless sub-plots help keep it on track.
There are others too though: Gulshan Grover plays the Ticket Checker Satyam Sharma and he’s excellent as ever. As is Minister Indrale, played by Ishrat Ali, the Marathi politician playing the intricate games that politics in India has become notorious for. Jimmy Shergill as the strong but fallible Deputy Commissioner Yadav is brilliant, portraying a difficult blend of command and vulnerability with various degrees of excellence.
Mukesh Rishi as inspector Dogra, Achint Kaur as a no-nonsense woman reporter and Shilpa Shukla as another cop are all very good too.
The editing by Chirag Jain is crisp and snappy and helps keep that edge through the movie. The use of different video filters for flashbacks works very well as the nostalgic flashbacks are a delightful combination of glossed out colours and sweet, tuneful music and songs, giving Keshav’s memories a rightfully soothing feel. Mohan Verma deserves special praise for some great cinematography. And due credit to Ashok Kohli for writing a compelling script and then translating it into an equally competent movie.
There are, of course, flaws too. Some of the actresses are unconvincing and there are times when the explanations given to create a situation aren’t perfectly in tune with the world of logic. The plot-line, furthermore, seems to move along in a vaguely random manner.
But as the movie unfolds, it becomes increasingly clear that while the story is being narrated, the focus is on society on the whole and the general public’s role in it. The story skirts carefully around the ‘preaching’ line and prefers to force the viewer to think. There’s no explicit call for action, no cry for justice or demand for change made, but as the final credits roll, there is a strangely stirring urge to change our entire system and care about what’s happening in India today.
“Public ke haalath ke zimmedaar public khud hai (the public is responsible for the mess it’s in)” says a pragmatic DY Yadav as the climax draws closer, wrapping the idea in a quick by-the-way line.
Existentialism rarely translates to a good Bollywood movie, but this is one rare exception. It helps that the story seems to go nowhere in particular and it isn't a suspense thriller. And perhaps it’s the unapologetic nature of the script and the characters or perhaps it’s the way a subconscious message is delivered without someone screaming it in your face, but ‘Rajdhani Express’ works because it makes you reflect and think without really asking you to do so.
If you like to reflect and want to watch a refreshingly thought-provoking movie, go watch it.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- Hiding true colours makes you feel immoral
- Sharon Osbourne taking month long break form 'The Talk'
- Model Nicole Trunfio poses breastfeeding son in Elle cover
- 'Dil Dhadakne Do' team to promote film at IPL final
- Pamela Anderson ready to date lots of guys
- Did Vanessa Hudgens help BFF Selena to avoid her ex Justin Bieber?
- Thin models may put off more women than they inspire
- Amanda Seyfried finds Charlize Theron trustworthy
- Robert De Niro's blunt commencement speech at NYU
- Sunny Leone rubbishes being ousted from Celina's flat
- Jason Derulo 'tired of playing nice'
- 'Dil Dhadakne Do' team to promote film at IPL final
- 'Embrace of the Serpent' tops Directors' Fortnight awards
- Impressed by Salman's fandom, Stallone wants 'action' with him
- 'Poltergeist' movie review- not petrifying enough
- Rana Daggubati behind Karan Johar, Rajamouli collaboration
- 'Fukrey 2' put on hold, says director
- Cobie Smulders stars in 'Unexpected' trailer
- 'Cooties' trailer unveiled
- Seth Rogen shares new picture from 'Preacher' set
- Tate Taylor to direct 'The Girl on the Train'
- Azhar biopic not to show Salman Khan angle?
- PM Modi speaks at Golden Jubilee celebrations of poet Dinkar’s works
- Vadodara: Policemen seen dancing with bar girls
- Coal scam: Naveen Jindal, Madhu Koda and others get bail
- One year of Modi govt: Arun Jaitley addresses press conference
- DNA: IAF Mirage 2000 fighter plane lands successfully on Yamuna expressway
- Zee Media Exclusive: Kangana, Madhavan talk about their film 'Tanu Weds Manu Returns'
- DNA: Osama documents show 'Indian brother in Madinah' financed al Qaeda
- ISIS executes Syrian fighter using anti-tank rocket launcher
- DNA: Harmful chemicals found in Maggi, Nestle India still in denial mode
- Zee Media Exclusive interview with Congress leader Kamal Nath
- CM Kejriwal shortlists 39 'unwanted' IAS officers in Delhi
- Columbia student takes rape-protest mattress to graduation
- Mumbai: One injured in shootout at Film City
- Delhi: Car catches fire after crash, one dead
- DNA: Modi-led NDA govt's hits and misses in one year
- Jayalalithaa makes public appearance, meets Governor: As it happened
- Mumbai firm booked for denying Muslim MBA graduate job on religious grounds, probe ordered
- `Piku` hits jackpot, does Rs 100 crore business worldwide
- Geelani's passport application incomplete, cannot be processed: MEA
- IPL 2015, Qualifier 2: CSK vs RCB - As it happened...
- India to soon have its own space shuttle!
- Kejriwal slams notification on LG's powers, says Modi running Delhi govt through back door
- WBBSE 10th Madhyamik Results 2015: West Bengal Board (wbbse.org & wbresults.nic.in) Class 10th Madhyamik Pariksha Results 2015 to be announced on May 22
- Don't know what will happen to my career, says Ranbir Kapoor
- Tanu Weds Manu Returns movie review: Brilliant execution, superb performance!
- Manohar Parrikar meets troops at Siachen base camp
- Wbbse.org 10th Madhyamik Pariksha Results 2015: West Bengal Board (wbresults.nic.in) Class 10th, WB MP Results 2015 to be announced today shortly
- Businessman shot next to Amitabh Bachchan's shooting location in Mumbai Film City
- British tourist masturbated at in Mumbai; Indian men apologise
- West Bengal Board (wbbse.org & wbresults.nic.in) Class 10th Madhyamik Pariksha (MP) Results 2015 to be announced today at 10 AM