John Abraham offers an endearing and effective performance
Akshay Kumar might be the popular representative of the stream of patriotic movies that have been flooding our narratives but trust John Abraham to chart his own successful tales of cinema that celebrates patriotism without the jingoism.
‘Romeo Akbar Walter’ or RAW is John’s latest film after ‘Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran’ and ‘Satyameva Jayate’, a spy flick that is likely to be compared to ‘Raazi’ and ‘The Ghazi Attack’ since the timeframe covered is based during the Indo-Pak conflict in 1971.
Romeo Ali (John) is a young Indian banker based in New Delhi who lives with an over-protective mother. Reason being, his father died serving the country and even though Romeo desires to serve the nation in similar fashion, he restrains and submits to his mother’s apprehensions. One day he is summoned by RAW Director Srikant Rai (Jackie Shroff), who tasks him as a spy in Pakistan to help retrieve vital information that can help the Indian government to tackle their enemy nation. Romeo Ali is now Akbar Malik in Pakistan and he wins the trust of highly-acclaimed Arms Dealer Isaaq Afridi (Anil George) who’s in great terms with General Zorawar (Purnendu Bhattacharya). While eavesdropping on their conversations, Akbar learns that Pakistani forces plan to strike the Badlipur region in order to counter militant activities in in East Pakistan that are being held with support from Indian forces. Will Akbar help the Indian agencies to foil the operation or not?
The story by Robbie Grewal is decent in intention but the weak screenplay tends to arouse little interest from the viewers. Also some of the plot points and character developments are never convincing. Editor Nilesh Girdhar and Subash Sahu’s sound are the biggest drawbacks of the film. At two hours and thirty minutes, the film seems to stretch to eternity and the sound design is quite deafening in certain scenes. The cinematography by Tapan Basu is claustrophobic with monotone frames dominating the visuals throughout.
In terms of performances, John and Jackie are a delight to watch. John’s portrayal of a conflicted man is earnest and the actor stays committed to his part. Jackie brings out his flamboyant self while playing the shrewd RAW chief. Actors Rajesh Shringarpure and Anil George offer competent supporting roles. Mouni Roy has barely five scenes in the entire running length of the film and her character is not given a convincing storyline. Alka Amin as John’s mother has one standalone expression throughout the film.
RAW eventually is a watch strictly for John’s fans but it does require a significant amount of patience.