Raabta: Sushant and Kriti's chemistry is the only good thing about Dinesh Vijan's debut
There is a stretch in the first half of Raabta, which manages to draw you in to the lives of the two lead characters.
Sushant Singh Rajput and Kriti Sanon play off each other beautifully, their confidence and effervescence a refreshing change from the way young, contemporary romantic relationships in Hindi cinema are usually shown. (Think Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor behaving like no young person ever, in Befikre, as a constrast)
In Raabta, though, Kriti and Sushant are the soul of the film. Despite being layered with cheese, their love story seems earnest, and the fun they seem to be having on screen is hard to look away from.
Their attraction seems to stem from how annoying they are to each other, and in that regard, the scenes are free-flowing. From the awkward silence that ensues the first time they see each other – and this is supposed to have a greater meaning in the context of the film; to this wee-over-the-top scene where Sushant ensures Kriti breaks up with her current boyfriend, the film coasts along on the power of its leads.
It’s also good to see the female character not looked at through the lens of femininity, piety and womanhood. Not to say that the gender portrayal in Raabta is perfect by any means, but Kriti’s character is certainly a step forward for young urban female characters in Hindi films.
With all of this, the first half of the film is a fun watch despite references to a comet that can be seen once in 800 years, and its cosmic influence on love stories here on earth. You’re almost hoping they forget about the comet and just show us more of Kriti and Sushant’s banter.
Alas, at some point the comet’s curse strikes upon the film.
The past life portions of the film come in, Jim Sarbh appears along with his oddly-stilted dialogue delivery, and it’s safe to say that this takes the film down with it. Reincarnation is tough to nail, particularly with audiences getting increasingly unforgiving of mediocre writing.
Consider Baar Baar Dekho, for instance. With a similar setup – a fresh, good-looking lead pair and an unconvincing attempt at moving through time to connect the dots of the story – it failed because the writing of the film and the primary hook it is based on just didn’t work for the audience.
(It didn’t help either that Katrina and Sidharth shared the chemistry of a duster and chalk.)
With Raabta, despite a certain amount of thought that has gone into the past life portions of the film, it just does not work because the writing lets it down. Writers Siddharth & Garima, who’ve previously written for Sanjay Leela Bhansali, bite off far more than they can chew with this one.
After a point, the reincarnation aspect seems almost like a joke, with no real thought being given to how these two eras must be connected to each other.
It doesn’t help either that Dinesh Vijan is a first-time director, and at some point, the scale of the enterprise seems to be too much for any of the talent of the film to handle, while the foundation of the enterprise – the script – is shaky to begin with.
What you’re left with is a squandered opportunity, as a potentially good love story quickly spirals into tedium. Kriti and Sushant succeed a few times in making you look past a lot of the (often pointless) goings-on, but there’s only so much silliness we can handle in one lifetime.