Why I Felt ‘Raman Raghav 2.0’ Was More a Love Story Than a Thriller

Whenever Anurag Kashyap’s Raman Raghav 2.0 is discussed, the focus always remains on the gruesome violence and uncomfortable scenes that steal the sleep of your nights. The focus lies only on the fact that it is a tale about two (horrible or interesting as you prefer to say) people and their respective psyche.

However, I feel that beyond all that gore, Raman Raghav is a fascinating love story.

The first meeting or the boy-meets-boy scene of Ramanna (played by Nawazuddin Siddique) and Raghavan (played by Vicky Kaushal) takes place when Raghavan goes to Chacha to get drugs and commits his first murder. Raman was hiding there and was allured by the sight of Raghavan killing the man. Ramanna seemed to always know that this man was to be “his” Raghavan and, throughout the film, made it his obsessive goal to “win” Raghavan. In one scene, Ramanna says that he has got his Raghavan but that Raghavan did not know that he was, indeed, Raman’s Raghavan. At the end of the film Ramanna even says, “From that moment [when Ramanna saw Raghavan killing for the first time] I fell in love with you at first sight.”

In another scene, when Simmy (played by Sobhita Dhulipala) and Raghavan have sex, Ramanna is seen watching them from a nearby terrace. I notice jealousy in Ramanna’s binocularesque eyes. Rammana is possessive about Raghavan and is not comfortable to see him with someone else. Rammanna says, “You are looking for it in this woman…but you won’t get it”. I feel that the unstated and deep sexual attraction that Ramanna has for Raghavan makes the relationship between these characters interesting.

Also read: Lesbian Subtext In Bollywood, as Seen Through a Queer Eye

In Indian movies and web shows, we have seen the exploration of homosexuality like LOEV (2015), Aligarh (2015), and Made in Heaven (2019) but the same theme in a psychological neo-noir thriller captured my attention. I was reminded of Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (1951), where the viewer sees an unstated sexual attraction between Guy (played by Farley Granger) and Bruno (played by Robert Walker) on screen. I found the play in Bruno’s behaviour which comes laden with homoerotic undertones a particular victory by Walker, who is masterful in this depiction.

A still from ‘Strangers on a Train’.

Roger Ebert, in his review of Strangers on a Train wrote, “It is this sense of two flawed characters – one evil, one weak, with an unstated sexual tension – that makes the movie intriguing and halfway plausible, and helps explain how Bruno could come so close to carrying out his plan.” Similarly, Raman Raghav 2.0 is a psychological thriller about two flawed characters-one evil (Ramanna) and one weak (Raghavan). In my reading, they too operate under an unstated sexual tension.

As the movie progresses, Ramanna’s love for Raghavan is visibly more explicit. When Ramanna and Simmy meet for the first time in the shopping mall, he does not attack her. Instead, he gives her a card which has Ramanna and Raghavan’s photos spliced and pasted together, to make it seem as if they are one person.

During a final interrogation scene Raghavan realises that Ramanna knows exactly how Raghavan killed Simmy and was still going to take the blame on his behalf.

He asks him, “Why did you come here?”

Ramanna replies, “To look you in the eye”.

In the final scenes, Ramanna’s love for Raghavan and his burning jealousy dominates the film. It seems to me as if beyond all violence, it is this love story between two (horrible or interesting as you prefer to say) characters that prevails.

I also found it interesting that Kashyap made such a canny insertion of this subtext in a film which already pushes the boundaries of our conception of what is moral and immoral.

A lot of people just go to watch films that feed into their pre-existing ideas and ideologies. In a country like India where people are so obsessed with cinema, it can play an important role to break harmful stereotypes and the importance of Raman Raghav 2.0 lies in the fact that it tries to do so by exploring homosexuality so freely.

The film is fascinating to me.

Ayan Dawn lives in Kolkata and recently graduated from the Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira in English.

Featured image: A still from Raman Raghav 2.0.