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SRK plays a gangster in Raees
SRK plays a gangster in #Raees

As soon as Shah Rukh Khan came up with the trailer of his muchawaited film Raees, the whole nation went  gaga over it. And it had to be so. The very proof of the same is that it came out on December 7 and in just 20 hours the Raees trailer has crossed 10.5 million record breaking views on Youtube. Thus this SRK film’s trailer has become the fastest to do so, ever in the history of Indian cinema.

The gripping trailer has successfully topped the list by surpassing the trailer of Sultan which had raked in 100K likes in 42 hours, Dangal in 8 hours 48 minutes, Shivaay in 23 hours and MS Dhoni: The Untold Story in 12 hours. Following the unveiling of the two and a half minute trailer, the hashtag #RaeesTrailer was trending on social media all day, as fans and critics shared their excitement about the film.

Ever since Shah Rukh Khan unveiled the first look of Raees — with his character’s punchline “Baniye ka dimaag aur miyanbhai ki daring” — the Rahul Dholakia directed film has been drummed up a lot of curiosity among fans. Raees — a coproduction of Shah Rukh’s own Red Chillies and Farhan AkhtarRitesh Sidhwani’s Excel Entertainment — hasn’t had a smooth going.

First, its original release date — Eid 2016 — had to be set aside, to avoid a clash with Salman Khan’s Sultan. Then, the new date chosen for Raees’ release — Republic Day 2017 — was found to be in direct conflict with Hrithik Roshan’s Kaabil. Even as these issues weighed Raees down, a bigger storm was brewing.

As antiPakistan sentiment simmered in India after the Uri attacks in September that left several of our military personnel dead, there were calls to boycott all artistes from across the border. Raees was among the films struck really hard (the other film was Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, which had a cameo by Fawad Khan) as it marked the Bollywood debut of Pakistani actress Mahira Khan.

The storm has now settled, and despite calls to replace Mahira, she still continues to be Shah Rukh’s love interest in the film (although reports say her role has indeed been trimmed considerably, in order to avoid backlash).

The Raees trailer itself has been highly anticipated — initially it was believed that it would release on Shah Rukh Khan’s 51st birthday in November; then reports stated it would be attached to Gauri Shinde’s Dear Zindagi.

Then, a week back, it was announced that instead of January 26, Hrithik Roshan’s Kaabil will release on January 25 from the 6pm evening shows. Nobody knew that Shah Rukh Khan and the Raees team are also planning a full fledged release on January 25 right from the morning shows.

The Raees trailer was launched and the makers finally announced that it will hit screens on January 25 as well. We spoke to Rakesh Roshan too who had then informed that he had no clue about the new release date that the Raees team had planned.

But the film is already creating a buzz, mostly about the main character.

As per reports, SRK’s role was inspired by Abdul Latif. During the ‘80s, Latif ran a flourishing bootlegging business in the Popatiyawad area of Gujarat and rose to become a don. It is said that he worked in gambling dens, serving liquor, from a very young age. This may have had something to do with his getting into the bootlegging business later in life.

As his profile rose, so did the scale and scope of his illegal business interests. It is reported that Latif was involved in hawala, land deals and contract killings. The charge of receiving smuggled arms in India, through the villages on the western coast of Gujarat, has also been laid at his door.

He was also said to be a close associate of Dawood Ibrahim — which led to him being considered a prime suspect in the 1993 Mumbai blasts.

At the same time, numerous stories are also in circulation about Latif’s altruistic deeds. Robin Hoodesque anecdotes about the don, claim he helped underprivileged Muslim youth get jobs, and provided the poor with financial and other aid.

Latif was killed in an encounter with the police in Naroda Patiya in 1997, allegedly while trying to escape (he had been incarcerated at Sabarmati Jai since 1995).