“We all have some experience of a feeling, that comes over us occasionally, of what we are saying and doing having been said and done before, in a remote time – of our having been surrounded, dim ages ago, by the same faces, objects, and circumstances.”

-Charles DickensĀ 

Hindi Cinema’s idee fixe about reincarnation has resurfaced with Dinesh Vijan’s directorial debut, Raabta. We have made myriads of movies on this motif- The mesmerizing Madhumati, the pleasurable Karz, the amusing Om Shanti Om, the schmaltzy Karan Arjun and the gargantuan misadventure Prem.

But the one film Raabta arrives nearest to, is the Amrita Rao-Arya Babbar starer Ab Ke Baras, a lurid cinematic encounter that has, over the years, left the door ajar for kitsch. Rao, who portrayed the role of a clamorous teenage, had some unexplainable visions about a temple. The woman in this film, Saira (Kriti Sanon), meanwhile, has constant nightmares of drowning in an ocean. Sanon’s soliloquy in her prefatory scene showcases her shame of being petrified of water. Pat comes the quip- “Fattu hoon par fatakka bhi to hoon.” Later, we discover she actually communicates with her deceased parents.

The hero, Shiv (Sushant Singh Rajput), on the other hand, is a Ranveer Singhisque sort of a lover boy. Wearing his heart on his sleeves, he’s charming, chatty and unabashedly calls himself a crowd-puller. The two meet, only twice, and have smooched, had sex and the boy hilariously breaks her up with her boyfriend. Performed with flexibility and spontaneity, Rajput shines in this particular scene and raises a very plausible question- “Long drive par khaali sadken dekhne ka Kya fayda, yeh long drives nahin, long walks waali hai.” At this moment, you’re reminded of a scene in Hum Tum, where Saif asks Rani how much time does it take to know each other, to which she replies- “Sometimes, it takes a lifetime, sometimes, a moment is enough.”

Before leaving in a crestfallen state, her boyfriend asks her-“Main chala gaya to is love story mein Kya conflict reh jaayega ? Surprise, surprise. Enter the multi-millionaire liquor baron, Zakir Merchant (Jim Sarbh), who’s acting oscillates between menacing and amusing.

Where the triumvirate shines, it’s in the ancient era, where the two actors play warriors and the female lead is a princess. Anil Mehta’s picturesque landscapes and waterfalls add more drama and euphoria to the action sequences, and it’s helped that both Rajput and Sarbh display an absorbing and compelling turn as the combatants hell bent on winning the princess’ heart. We don’t really witness many montages of their unrequited romance in this period, as the tale tragically ends in subterfuge.

It’s in the modern time, where Sanon and Sushant portray some electric and energetic chemistry. Helped by some hummable music, both the actors are consistently watchable, particularly Kriti Sanon, who was utterly wasted in the Rohit Shetty dud, Dilwale.

Raabta is an old wine in a new, no, very new and a very exorbitant bottle, that has costed about 70 crores. Now time to witness whether people would relish this wine or just whine.

For me, it largely worked, thanks to an uninhibited performance by Rajput.