In one of the scenes of "Raabta", liquor tycoon Zakir Merchant (Jim Sarbh) tells his love interest - Saira (Kriti Sanon), "Jab tak samajh nahi aata… be my guest." I am sure the audience too will take him seriously and stoically gape at the screen.
With badly etched, one-dimensional characters, "Raabta" is portrayed as an epic love story with reincarnation et al.
Shiv (Sushant Singh Rajput) is a gregarious and charming banker who only has "how to hook a girl" on his mind. Accompanied by his best friend essayed by Varun Sharma, he goes to Budapest for work, where in due course he meets a chocolatier Saira. There is instant chemistry between the two and they are hooked for life.
But then life is not so easy, the convoluted plot goes through formulaic tropes of an oft-seen romance, till Zakir Merchant enters their lives and turns it topsy-turvy, drawing them into the web of their previous life, some 800 years ago.
The problem with "Raabta" is the plot. The film looks like two distinct films put together on the editing table. The first half of the film is devoted to the contemporary period and most of the second half has the period drama.
Also, apart from the plot the direction is tacky. At one instance, marooned on an islet, while escaping from Zakir's men, Shiv lands up offering bottled water to Saira. How he gets the bottled water, leaves the audience scratching their heads?
Apart from this, during the first half, the fast paced lifestyle of Shiv coupled with the meandering plot reveals nothing, making the viewing tedious. And by the beginning of the second half the plot is so predictable that you long to get it wound up soon.
Sushant Singh Rajput is earnest, but inconsistent in his delivery. He is despicable yet charming as Shiv and exudes charisma as Jilaan. Similarly, Kriti Sanon as Saira and Saiba is endearing but fragile and confused. Together, their on-screen chemistry lacks depth.
Jim Sarbh, who was earlier seen as the terrorist in the film "Neerja" is a misfit, as the once prince and now Zakir Merchant. Understated and ordinary in his approach, he propels the narrative convincingly, but unfortunately as an antagonist he is not menacing. He disappoints and this is not his fault.
Varun Sharma, as Shiv's friend is stereotyped and unimpressive. With heavily loaded prosthetics, Rajkummar Rao as the ancient tribal head, is a waste of resource.
The songs do not add much to the narrative but they are a pleasant break from the monotonous twisted plot. This is evident especially during the performance rendered by Deepika Padukone.
With brilliant production values, the film is all gloss and fluff.
However, 'Raabta', which means connection, fails to connect with its audience.
IANS rating: **