When watching an Anurag Kashyap film, you know you’ve signed up for a gory, criminal and sinful world. With his latest directorial venture, however, you are not prepared for the gruesome details and shocking twists in the narrative. Ugly, one of Kashyap’s best films till date, is the only other movie that shocks with the stomach-churning cruelty of life. Raman Raghav 2.0 betters that. The film is not about how life treats human beings – it is pure Satan in the form of humans – our protagonists take sadistic pleasure out of hurting others brutally.
Raman Raghav 2.0 is a film that’s divided into eight ‘chapters’ that explore the coiled, psychotic workings of a serial killer’s mind. The good news is that this film is better than Kashyap’s last directorial venture, Bombay Velvet. Fans of Kashyap will rejoice at this, while those a little more level-headed will take note of the fact that ‘better than Bombay Velvet’ doesn’t really raise the bar very high.
On the whole, though RAMAN RAGHAV 2.0 promises to be an edgy thriller, the film fails to deliver. It is only Nawazuddin's brilliant performance that helps you sit through this 140 mins long film.
There are some mesmeric bits in here, which belong to Siddiqui. But those are not enough. Without those crucial elements, the film is rendered atmospheric yet hollow, and we are turned into cringing voyeurs, into reluctant participants, without redemption.
Raman Raghav 2.0 showcases Siddiqui at his creepiest best, where he walks around the streets of Mumbai with a wheel changing wrench and later just an iron rod as his murder weapons, portraying a copycat serial killer. And that is true in Raman Raghav 2.0. Just as Haneke scared the hell out of us in Funny Games, without really showing the killings, Kashyap also leaves the brutality of the murders to our imagination, using a strong sound design, and then showing traces of blood on the floor, or dripping from the metal rods that Raman uses. But emotionally we feel empty. We cannot empathise with the killer, but his victims barely have time to grow on us. If we start to care for them at all -- and Subhash's Lakshmi does show her warm human side -- Kashyap pulls us away from the scenario as soon as he can.