A round of applause for our everyday heroes
When asked to sign a report of an income tax raid, a witness comments that there is no use uncovering black money, if under the guise of welfare schemes, it is looted again by the very people it is confiscated from. Therein lies one of the problems of Raj Kumar Gupta’s well-meaning Raid. Everyone hates paying income tax and very few know what happens to all that black money that is recovered in periodic raids, none of which must be half as exciting as the fictional one — “based on true stories” — shown in the film. An IT raid does not have the same impact, as say a cop catching a gangster or a soldier killing the enemy. Slitting open mattresses and peering into drains to look for unaccounted wealth, does not exactly make for gripping cinema; so Gupta has tried to liven up proceedings with heavy duty dialogue between the new IT boss of Lucknow and the local politician-strongman.
Amay Patnaik (Ajay Devgn) is so honest that he is constantly transferred, and his long-suffering wife Malini (Ileana D’Cruz) is resigned to packing and setting up home every few months. The colleagues at his Lucknow posting say his enthusiasm about chasing tax evaders is like the noise a just-opened soda bottle makes. When, on an anonymous tip-off, Amay plans a raid on Rameshwar Singh’s (Saurabh Shukla) White House, they are nervous — one of them refuses to join because he is beholden to “Tauji.”
Tauji is first amused, then irritated at the officer’s gumption; his large family stands around defiantly knowing that they cannot be touched. When money, gold, jewellery and incriminating papers start raining down, Tauji displays his gangster side. It’s no spoiler, because it is in the promo, Tauji challenging Amay, “You managed to come in, how will you get out?” as his loyal hordes surround the mansion. Obviously tax-evasion does not tarnish their leader!
The film is set in 1981, the markers being Ambassador cars and rotary phones — there is very little drama and practically no suspense in an income tax raid, so the film is mostly theatrical verbal bluster. Ajay Devgn can play this scowling, upright officer in his sleep, but unlike the many cops he has portrayed, this one offers no scope for action. Shukla is a good actor, but just not menacing enough.
Gupta has stinted on the character development — you are informed that Amay is honest and Rameshwar Singh is corrupt, but nothing more about how they arrived at that point. Instead of a romantic song, the film could have given a peek into the working of the IT department and the implications of a raid. Still, the film has to be lauded for focusing on everyday heroes, because of whom, the country is probably saved from descending into total chaos.