When friends asked me how Raman Raghav 2.0 was, I was irritated. Can one ask, "How was the movie?" for a film directed by Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino or Alejandro González Iñárritu? Similarly, Anurag Kashyap's Raman Raghav 2.0 is an experience. A superb artistic experience. 

 

A single scene, which I consider one of the best I have seen in my world cinema experience, illustrates this: 

 

Raman has just escaped from police custody and comes to meet his sister. She is terrified of him, fearing that he will destroy her serene middle-class life. Her husband disrespects Raman, who would never tolerate such an insult. What follows is a 'theatre of cruelty'. 

 

Raman ties his brother-in-law and nephew and sends his sister to buy chicken. It has been four days since he last ate, he claims, since he was not fed in the 'secret' police custody. 

 

The sister purchases the meat, unable to inform anyone in the market about what is happening in her home. Holding the lives of his sister, her husband and their child in his iron rod, Raman cooks and eats the chicken. The scene is stunning. 

 

Words fail me when I try to describe how fantastic Nawazuddin Siddiqui's acting was. But the clincher for Raman is that there in no motive in any of his killings. Usually, cinematic serial killers are shown to have an awful childhood, as some justification for their crimes. There is no such back-story here. Raman kills his victims as casually as having a cup of tea.

 

When there is no motive, there is no guilt either. He has no reason to kill someone. 

 

 

The other protagonist in the movie is assistant commissioner of police Raghav (Vicky Kaushal), who is on a mission to catch Raman. Raghav is a drug addict.   While there is no backstory as to why Raman became a serial killer, there is one for Raghav. 

 

Raghav's girlfriend, Simmy (played by a voluptuous Sobhita Dhulipala), is an intense character. Her relationship with Raghav is no greater than the relationship between Raman and his victims. 

 

Ignoring Simmy, he brings home girls and makes love to them. Being a drug addict, he is unable to perform in bed. Even Viagra does not help. He lives a life full of violence, despair and anxiety. (None of these is found in Raman.) Despite all this, Simmy loves him truly. 

 

Raghav is Raman's 'double'. This concept of 'double' differentiates this film from many other crime thrillers.  

 

“Suggested or stimulated by reflections in mirrors and water and by twins, the idea of the Double is common to many countries. It is likely that sentences such as 'A friend is another self' by Pythagoras, or the Platonic 'Know thyself' were inspired by it," are the opening lines of Jorge Luis Borges' 'The Double'. Ever since childhood, we are prescribed do's and don't's and the don't's get piled up day by day.  Am I Raman or Raghav? Godse or Gandhi? This Borgesian question is the motif of Raman Raghav.

 

Whenever a crime happens, people think that a criminal is a man sent from hell, and we act as if we are very kind human beings; or we believe we are so. But, we too are responsible for that crime. The criminal is no different from us. Our only solace is that we are not in his situation. Had we been, we would be committing that act of crime. 

 

This point is emphasised strongly by the film's shooting spots. The film is shot exquisitely in the slums, which are uninhabitable by humans. These locations constantly remind us that we could be Raman if we were born in those slums.

 

Newborns are kidnapped in India every other month. They are made to beg at traffic signals. Sometimes, their heart and kidneys are 'stolen'. One cannot imagine how violent these kids are. A 10-year-old kid, bred in such a situation, can commit any crime. Sexual crimes are just a matter of two years later. We are lucky not to be in the situation.

 

The gruesome murders in the films of directors like Michael Haneke, metamorphize into art in the hands of Anurag Kashyap. First-rate cinematography and music greatly assist this magic. The music (Ram Sampath) is in sync with the mood of the film, but being an Amit Trivedi addict, I missed him greatly.