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Five years after the misfiring Ghanchakkar, a film that went round in circles with no apparent purpose, director Raj Kumar Gupta regains some of his mojo in Raid, a gripping search-and-seizure procedural boosted by its focused intensity and the commendably restrained performances from Ajay Devgn and Saurabh Shukla. It hits the right buttons consistently and, barring the largely gratuitous background songs, does not stray from its chosen course.
Inspired by “true stories” surrounding an early 1980s tax raid on a powerful Uttar Pradesh political goon, the film has contemporary resonance because the broad themes that it touches upon are undeniably as relevant today as they were four decades ago. The nation and its people may, on the surface, seem to have moved on, but, at levels that matter, the rot has only worsened in alarmingly dangerous ways.
Raid, scripted by Ritesh Shah, tells the story of an income tax deputy commissioner, Amay Patnaik (Devgn), who lands in Lucknow with his wife Malini (Ileana D’Cruz) on his 49th transfer in seven years. He wastes no time in making his presence felt in UP’s capital city. Acting on an anonymous telephonic tip-off, Patnaik, with a posse of policemen and tax officials, marches into the den of a dreaded, crooked politician Rameshwar Singh “Tauji” (Shukla) with a search-and-seizure warrant.