Anurag Kashyap’s latest film paints a vivid portrait of a serial killer. The opening title cards establish the connection with the notorious serial killer of the 1960s: Raman Raghav, who had left a trail of 41 murders behind him and immediately affirms that this movie is not about him. The story revolves around two men, the serial killer Ramanna (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and the cop Raghuvendra Singh Ubbi (Vicky Kaushal).
It is not a chess game where Ramanna and Raghuvendra try to outwit each other. Both are puppets in the hands of temper and self-interest. At a later stage in the movie, Ramanna tells as to how much he enjoys the act of killing just like he likes to eat and sleep. Raghuvendra, on the other hand, isn’t afraid to commit a crime as he is part of the system. Killings happen and they act more as points in a journey of the two men as they get closer to each other. Kashyap splits the evil into two equally insane halves and from then on, it becomes more of an attempt for each of them to be complete.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Ramanna is easily one of the most chilling portrayals of a serial killer we have seen on screen. Ramanna loves wearing sunglasses, loves observing airplanes (he keeps count of them), maintains a record of people he killed and at times, moves around wearing his sister’s earrings. His eyes sparkle when he talks about his philosophy. He nonchalantly talks about how he believes Yama, God of Death, speaks to him. That is how he gets to pick people for his acts of killing. He believes that hiding behind the cloak of law or religion to commit isn’t as pure as killing for the sake of it. He enjoys and revels in it. Vicky Kaushal excels as the reckless, drugs addicted cop, Raghuvendra Singh Ubbi. Raghuvendra is a monster courting insanity with his frequent mood swings, accentuated by loss of drugs, makes him commit heinous acts of crime. Being born and brought up in a patriarchal society, they are both victims of it. Ramanna loathes his sister. On the other hand, Raghuvendra uses women for his sexual cravings. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the women meet the meatiest of blows.
What captivates and keeps you engaged is the way the story pans out. It is divided into eight chapters, reminding one of Tarantino films. Jay Oza’s cinematography – the film is mostly shot in the slums of Mumbai along with Ram Sampath’s background score and songs (especially Behooda which has been placed well by Anurag Kashyap) make this a compelling watch and provide a wholesome cinematic experience.
There are a few scenes that shall remain in your memory for a long time. Like how Ramanna surrenders to the cops, confesses to his crimes only to be let off by the Police owing to their collective disbelief. There is an extended sequence where Ramanna prepares himself a chicken curry in between gruesome killings where Kashyap keeps you guessing whether a six-year-old boy would land up as his next victim or not. But the most riveting scene of the movie comes where a couple is slaughtered to death in a slum and Ramanna casually feeds milk to a crying baby that truly emphasises on his unpredictable nature.
Raman Raghav 2.0 is a compelling narrative, an engrossing thriller that keeps you guessing and above all, a captivating study of two characters.
An edited version of this can be found here.