27 November, 2020

Everybody Loves R.A.W. Material

A past rarity in Bollywood, the spy thriller has arrived in times of hyper-nationalism

Secret’s out
A still from Naam Shabana (2017)
Everybody Loves R.A.W. Material

Some film titles can be real misnomers. Romeo Akbar Walter (RAW) is not the Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) of our times. Unlike Manmohan Desai’s fun-filled tribute to India’s syncretic culture through his pet lost-and-found formula, John Abraham’s latest is a spy thriller based on true events dating back to the Bangladesh war, where he plays an undercover agent sent on a secret mission to Pakistan by the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). No prizes for guessing that the 46-year-old actor plays a master of disguises with three distinct names in the movie. If it sounds uncannily familiar and gives a sense of déjà vu, blame it on Raazi, Alia Bhatt’s 2018 blockbuster, which had a similar plot line.

Faceless heroes buried in the yellow pages of history are the new flavour in B-town. A number of movies with narratives woven around the derring-do of an undercover agent deployed on a covert mission inside a hostile territory or against the enemy within, have unfolded on celluloid in recent times. The huge success of last...



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