Produced by Ritesh Sidhwani, Farhan Akhtar and Gauri Khan, Raees is directed by Rahul Dholakia who is best known for his National Film Award winning film, Parzania (Heaven & Hell On Earth) - 2005. It is said that Raees is based on the life of Abdul Latif( as per Wikipedia he was an associate of Dawood Ibrahim and the main culprit in supplying RDX used in 1993 Mumbai blasts), however, the film has a disclaimer that it is a work of fiction.
In addition to the above, Raees according to me borrows from two Bollywood superhits: Agneepath and Vaastav.
The pre-interval portion of Raees becoming a bootlegger is clearly inspired by Agneepath where a small boy who is given shelter by local goons grows to become their competitor. He eventually kills all of them to become the undisputed don.
Post interval portion has traces of Vaastav where the golden hearted Robinhood cum don runs into trouble with politicians but it is too late before he realizes that he has made some grave mistakes.
What works well?
As expected this is a one man show. ShahRukh sizzles from the word go. He charms his fans in every single frame. He looks great in his wide glasses and is mind-blowing in the action sequences. You also get to see the actor behind the star in some of the post interval emotional scenes. Mahira Khan has limited scope but she does well as ShahRukh's love interest. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub is first rate as ShahRukh's childhood friend. This is another good performance from the actor after Tanu Weds Manu Returns. Raees would not have been the film it is without Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Nawazuddin matches SRK in every frame and returns fire with fire. Atul Kulkarni and Narendra Jha have played their part well, they add the required spice to the proceedings.
Direction is good, music is decent and dialogues are excellent. Length of the movie is about 2 Hours 22 minutes and the pace is decent.
What could have been better?
Like most movies Raees fails to keep up the pace and excitement in the second half. There is no novelty in the local don cum Robinhood concept, it is a thing of the past which has been shown umpteen times. After a while it seems like a drag. If you remove SRK the star and Nawazuddin the actor then Raees is reduced to just another movie of Bollywood with no major USP.
To summarize, you may want to stay away if you are tired of watching the blazing guns and violence but it is a must watch if you are a die-hard fan of SRK or Nawazuddin.