In one scene, the RAW chief played by Jackie Shroff tells John Abraham’s Romeo about how RAW functions and he says they will never communicate with their agent in the normal manner and the dialogues will be always indirect through metaphors and other means. But what happens after that in RAW – Romeo Akbar Walter is pretty much opposite of that and the decoding of dialogues starts to feel so cheesy. RAW is one movie where the production design and cinematography have tried the best to make it look like a sophisticated spy film, but the film written by director Robbie Grewal is way too loud to have an emotional impact and thus falls flat.
Romeo Ali is the main protagonist. His father was a late army officer and the guy at one point gets recruited in RAW. It was the time prior to the 1971 war and Romeo was sent as a spy to Pakistan in the disguise of Akbar Ali. Akbar Ali’s spy works and the hurdles he had to pass in that are what the movie Romeo Akbar Walter RAW showing us.
RAW may work for a kid who might be seeing a spy thriller for the first time. Because most of the tricks in Robbie Grewal’s kitty are outdated. And some are even silly, like the way Romeo got recruited. The twists and smartness Robbie wants to add to the tale and the character just doesn’t blend in. You could easily sense the planning that will get revealed later. And if you want to make a suspenseful thriller like this, don’t make a trailer that oozes with patriotism. Dullness in the treatment made me feel that they wasted an opportunity to make a thriller that can go into the headspace of the main character.
John Abraham’s inability to have a wide range of emotions is a blessing in disguise here. Because the movie wants him to be in an emotional space where he won’t look vulnerable at all. The only other expression John shows on screen is a loud scream and we all know he is pretty used to that. Jackie Shroff as the calm RAW chief was in his elements. Raghubir Yadav delivers an earnest performance. Sikander Kher was fine. Anil George was that typical Pakistan terror leader. Mouni Roy hardly has anything to do here.
Robbie Grewal doesn’t have many original ideas to make the package look attractive. This is a story that needed nuances and subtexts to give an emotional hangover to the viewer. But Robbie plays it for the gallery by spoon feeding the audience. There is a trajectory that we will guess even when the film sort of deviates from the usual track and Robbie fails there as a writer and director in making those portions look compelling or surprising. The cinematography by Tapan Tushar Babu is really good and the texture of the visuals really helps the movie in getting into that mood of the 70’s. Music is an unnecessary entity here.
Flawed writing and the template patriotic formula makes RAW Romeo Akbar Walter a tedious experience. The core idea of the film is indeed an exciting story about one man’s sacrifice. But the familiarity and cheesiness in the screenplay makes it an underwhelming movie with a lot of commercial compromises.
The familiarity and cheesiness in the screenplay make RAW Romeo Akbar Walter an underwhelming movie with a lot of commercial compromises.