John Abraham’s latest nation-in-peril movie is set against the backdrop of the 1971 India-Pakistan war. Releasing nearly a year after Raazi, this one suffers from an acute hangover of the Alia Bhatt-film. It even ends with a song that seems inspired (read blatantly copied from Ae Watan…).
Romeo Akbar Walter (RAW) has a confusing structure, is supported by a blaring background score, and lacks both the smarts and the menace of being a good espionage thriller. The problem here lies with director Robbie Grewal (also director of Aloo Chaat, Mera Pehla Pehla Pyaar, and Samay), who botches his own script.
Given the twists and turns, the film comes across as a convoluted and tedious mess. For a major portion of the film, you find yourself trying to decipher where it is leading. In order to fit the sub-plots, the script is stretched to a point that you stop caring. The first part revolves around Romeo’s (Abraham) induction into the task force and imbibing the nuances of Akbar as he enters Pakistan. What could have been an interesting depiction, is reduced to a clichéd montage of training. In the second half, our super-spy hero is in pursuit of getting details of the Pakistani Army which threatens to set a bomb in a part of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
The sequence is shot so casually that it makes you wonder if walking on the streets of Pakistan while trying to gather sensitive information, is a cakewalk. The attempt to create a sense of urgency and intrigue are undermined by the lack of coherence. The film manages to pick up the pace in the second half, but by then, it is too late to salvage the situation.
The screenplay moves at a snail’s pace and is devoid of tension. The unnecessary inclusion of a love story between Romeo and Parul (Mouni Roy) makes it further lethargic. That’s not all, amidst the supposed high-tension situation, a lovemaking scene seems like a desperate attempt to titillate the audience.
Grewal tries to bank on the emotional side of Romeo as he remembers his mother. The scene is almost an ode to Darsheel Safary from Taare Zameen Par (2007). It comes across as pretentious and dreary. It seems, the director hoped to present the film as a complete package, and failed miserably. Had he stuck to the narrative of a spy, the outcome would have been very different.
Sikander Kher is the only one who has attempted to salvage the film. Jackie Shroff as the director of Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) sails by. Abraham’s deadpan expressions are a hindrance but he somehow manages to hold his ground. And Roy should stick to doing Naagin instead of a gratuitous role like this. As for RAW, YAW(n).