Planet Bollywood
Raghu Romeo
Producer: Rajat Kapoor
Director: Rajat Kapoor
Starring: Vijay Raaz, Sadiya Sidiqqui, Saurabh Shukla, Maria Goretti
Music: Pritam Chakraborty
Lyrics: Sanjeev Sharma
Genre: Comedy
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Approximate Running Time: 100 mins
Film Released on: 17 June 2004
Reviewed by: Vijay Venkataramanan  - Rating: 9.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 410 viewers)
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Raghu (Vijay Raaz), a shy, introvert, good-for-nothing dance-bar waiter is insanely obsessed with Neetaji (Maria Goretti). The only problem is, Neetaji is not real. She is a Hindi soap opera character played by Reshma. Thrown out of his job at the bar, Raghu joins Mario (Saurabh Shukla) as his driver. Mario is a contract killer, a piece of information our dear hero obviously does not realize despite being involved in an attempt with him to kill Reshma. When Raghu does realize the problem at hand, he takes it upon as his life’s mission to save Neetaji/Reshma from Mario. And so the laugh riot explodes and India welcomes its film industry’s freshest storyteller – writer/director Rajat Kapoor.

“Raghu Romeo” is a striking comedy because Kapoor stays away from resorting to slapstick clichés. Grounded in reality, he makes us laugh at his characters’ points of view of their circumstances, as opposed to making a laughing stock of the characters themselves. As a result, we are fascinated by the way Raghu thinks and enjoy every bit of the time that we see the world through his eyes. A lesser writer/director would have very calmly portrayed Raghu as a bumbling, imbalanced, fool. But Kapoor’s Raghu is no fool. He has a legitimate reason to justify his viewpoint of each and everything. The only problem is, when it comes to Neetaji, Raghu somehow can’t seem to draw the line between fiction and reality.

That oscillation between fiction and reality is precisely what Vijay Raaz utilizes to strengthen his stellar performance. Immaculately cast, Raaz’s innocent comic timing is right on the money. The scene towards the end where Raghu breaks down watching the finale of Neetaji’s serial will hurl you into splits. Saurabh Shukla, whose cracking dialogues are responsible for most of the laughs, also hits all the right notes through his performance as “Brother” Mario. Sadiya Siddiqui as the bar-dancer in love with Raghu, and Maria Goretti as the spoilt, television celebrity are just perfect.

However, “Raghu Romeo” is certainly not a perfect film. It has its share of flaws such as the sudden emergence of songs that are funny initially, but proceed to decelerate the pace of the narrative. But because of the strength of Kapoor’s material, and the heart that this film has, you cannot help but overlook those flaws. Rajat Kapoor’s direction is as strong as his screenplay. His shot selections put together by editor Suresh Pai are skillfully juxtaposed against each other, veering between the audience’s and Raghu’s viewpoints, subtly accentuating the humor in their situations. Ditto for Rafey Mahmood’s camerawork that cleverly captures the characters’ claustrophobic aura.

“Raghu Romeo” has everything we like to see in a solid comedy. With laughs aplenty, the movie is at heart, a quadrangle love story. The difference in this love story is that its characters are real people in extremely funny situations. It may not be a mainstream film but it entertains more than many mainstream comedies have even come close to doing. It doesn’t try to preach or be satirical. It simply makes you feel and laugh. Don’t wait for the DVD, run with your friends to the nearest theater and laugh it out before this small film is forced to give in to the string of Bollywood biggies arriving in the coming weeks.

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