The street-smart stubbly villain, the beautiful yet inconsequential heroine, the don-type antagonist, story set in Cape Town, backdrop of cricket, and some sly con games. Raja Natwarlal is a formula film lifting from its own formula which was Jannat. Director Kunal Deshmukh teams up with Emraan Hashmi yet again to give us a watered-down rehash.
So Raja (Emraan Hashmi) is a sadak chaap 420 who, along with a friend, loots the feared don Vardha (played campily by Kay Kay Menon).
An enraged Vardha needs these two swindlers dead. It's a matter of his reputation and an example needs to be set. But a tragedy later, it is now Raja who wants revenge. He reaches Dharamshala to meet a retired con legend Yogi (Paresh Rawal, always a delight). Together they put together a team to pull of the biggest swindle of their lives; what they refer to as "bada game".
The film, with an impressive intermission point, is pacy and full of twists in the second half. You are at the edge of your seat often, wondering whether this team will be able to pull of their audacious stunt. While you can tell the outcome on several occasions, the film does manage to throw up a few genuine surprises. The humour incorporated has you think back to films like Special Chabbis and the classic con film The Italian Job.
So far so good. Where the film falters is in insinuating incongruous melodrama and unnecessary characters. The coincidences are a bit far-fetched, even for this genre where anything goes. There are tedious repetitions like the heroine's confrontations with the nosy cops. One wishes the film had been more consistent, even in the technical department.
It appears that director Kunal Deshmukh having had experience with incorporating crime, cricket and Cape Town with Jannat, wants to stay within this prism. Jannat was a success after all; why not just repeat the formula? Even the dialogue has the same smart-alecky texture to it.
Emraan Hashmi could play this role in his sleep and he's dependably good. Humaima Malick who was impressive in the superb Pakistani film Bol, chooses to make her Bollywood debut with a role that could have been done by any actress. One wishes Bollywood gives this actress a wider range! They make for a reasonably interesting pair.
Paresh Rawal and Kay Kay Menon (in retro style clothes with sideburns) give us masterful performances that are more enjoyable than that of the lead pair's.
Of course one has reservations with the film's nonchalance when it comes to crime. It makes us side with a team that, at best, are better swindlers than the villain. After all, a con job is a con job, even if you steal from the antagonist.
So there you have it. The film will seem monotonous for the most part, save the finale where you are at the edge of your seat for a few moments. In short, if you're looking for Jannat rehashed with the crime-romance-drama combo, catch this one!
Rating: 2.5 stars