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Rautu Ka Raaz Review: A hill-station mystery that hits the right note

By Binged Bureau - Jun 28, 2024 @ 04:06 pm
3 / 5
Rating
3 / 5
Skin N Swear
Ideal watch for audiences of all age groups
Drama, Mystery, Crime

What Is the Story About?

Deepak Singh Negi is a largely forthright, partly laidback cop, deputed in Rautu, a village in Uttarakhand where a murder case hasn’t been registered for over 15 years. However, the mysterious death of a middle-aged school warden springs his team into action. As they seek answers, they uncover its connection to a dubious land deal, an illegitimate affair and a missing girl.

Performances?

Most police procedural dramas in mainstream cinema create an unnecessary sense of urgency as if the cop is navigating a ‘life and death’ situation. The protagonist generally doesn’t have an identity beyond work. Time and again, storytellers have employed the same trope in the genre, without acknowledging that such cases could be mundanity at best for the police force.

Rautu Ka Raaz, as a hill-station mystery, stands out among the pack because it is enjoyably laidback, casual and still focused in its narration. Negi is a sincere, inexpressive cop, healing from the wounds of his past. When he is informed about the death of a school warden, he wants to settle the case at the earliest, though revelations in a forensic report prompt him to wake up from his slumber.

The progress in the case is depicted through two elderly men who discuss everything under the sun over a bench every day. A soon-to-be married couple in the police force wants to get over the case, take leave, and do the ‘needful’. Another cop seeks to build a roof over his head and Negi himself isn’t in good terms with his parents – it has been a decade since he’s returned to his village.

Beyond its investigative angle, the director paints an intriguing portrait of the hill station ambience, throwing on light its conservatism, the touristy issues, the secret love affairs and how no one’s ever in a hurry to go about their work. Work doesn’t define the personality of the film’s characters. There’s a cool, laidback style to the investigation without custodial torture or bombastic dialogues.

Much to the credit of Nawazuddin Siddiqui, there’s wry humour to the cop’s characterisation – Negi definitely has a funny bone, even if he buries that dimension to his persona in public. While Negi expects the case to be another day at work, he views it as an opportunity to redeem himself. The resolution to the film is surprisingly humanistic, it’s his way of ensuring a better tomorrow.

Various dimensions of the case are uncovered through a gripping screenplay with adequate complexity and suspense. The director’s attempt to address the case from a psychological tangent lends it a novelty. From a creepy school founder to a mysterious principal to a depressed visually challenged boy and corrupt bureaucrats, several characters with varied motives add juice to the narrative.

While Rautu Ka Raaz is undoubtedly a great pick for ZEE5 for a direct-to-OTT release, it makes sense for the industry to release such films for the big-screen and offer a progressive, sensible alternative for theatre-going crowds. Invest two hours of your day into the film and you won’t be disappointed. Anand Surapur is a directorial talent who is here to stay.

Analysis

While it’s the umpteenth time that Nawazuddin Siddiqui is playing an investigative cop on screen, his dogged portrayal of Deepak Negi, a lonely, laidback and forthright professional gives it a refreshing exterior with adequate traces of vulnerability. As a lackadaisical subordinate who means well, Rajesh Kumar easily steps into the shoes of Naresh Dimri.

Atul Tiwari is perfectly cast for the notorious founder of a school for the visually challenged. As someone who loses his temper conveniently to being a sweet-talking negotiator who keeps his emotions under check, various layers to his performance bring authenticity to the role. Narayani Shastri, Samridhi Chandola and others deliver the goods in brief yet impactful parts.

Music and Other Departments?

Both the songs in the film – Sneha Khanwalker’s O Re Piya and Shafqat Amanat Ali’s Batiyan are used at poignant situations with a strong context, enhancing their impact further. Cinematographer Sayak Bhattacharya captures the beauty and mystery of hill stations with the credibility of an insider.

Anand Surapur, Shariq Patel’s writing is a breath of fresh air, lending a humanistic dimension to a done-to-death genre. Manish Jaitly and Anand do a fine job of ensuring a taut, gripping narrative that never loses its steam.

Highlights?

Refreshing writing in a mainstream genre

Commendable performances

Impressive technical finesse, attention to detail

Drawbacks?

Leisurely pacing

Absence of a stronger context to the ending

Did I Enjoy It?

Yes

Will You Recommend It?

Yes

Rautu Ka Raaz Review by Binged Bureau

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