Raees (Shah Rukh Khan) lives in Gujarat, a state where Prohibition is in force and gets involved in illegal liquor trade at a very young age. Along with Sadiq (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub), Raees works for a gangster Jairaj (Atul Kulkarni), who smuggles alcohol illegally by bribing the police. Raees lives by the philosophy of his mother that every occupation is good, and no religion is greater than any occupation as long as it does not cause any harm to anyone. He decides to part ways with Jairaj and start operating on his own. He meets Musabhai (Narendra Jha) in Mumbai, and with his help he starts his bootlegging business. Meanwhile, an honest police officer of the IPS cadre, J. A. Majmudar (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) gets transferred to Fatehpur, and starts a major crackdown on alcohol dealers.
Gujarat's Chief Minister and Pashabhai, a shrewd politician supports Raees for liquor and money. With his money, intelligence and tact, Raees consistently find ways to avert Majmudar and continues on with his trade. He also assists his community by offering employment to women to sew cloth bags, which he uses to smuggle alcohol and get them delivered to homes. In the meantime, Raees marries Aasiya (Mahira Khan). Due to his differences with Raees, Jairaj tries to get him killed but survives and kills Jairaj.
Raees and Aasiya have a baby son named Faizan. Raees invites CM, Pashabhai and many others to celebrate with him. Raees is then offered a project by the CM to eliminate the illegal occupants at a land and construct a housing project. Raees manages to get Majmudar transferred to control room department. However, tables turn as Majmudar starts tapping Raees' telephonic conversations. Raees assaults Pashabhai during his election campaign. The CM advises Raees to go to jail for a while for his act. While still locked up, the CM and Pasha form an alliance. To counter them, Raees decides to fight the election from jail and wins.
Meanwhile, Majmudar gets transferred back to Fatehpura. Communal riots break out in the state. Considering Raees a threat, the CM puts the housing project in green zone. Raees suddenly finds himself broke with all his money dwindled on housing project, elections and dispatching food supplies during riots.
Musabhai offers Raees by offering money for an assignment to smuggle gold. Serial bomb blasts rock North India. Police investigations lead to Raees, where the gold he smuggled, contained RDX. Raees kills Musabhai for betraying his trust and killing innocent people to incite communal riots. Majmudar orders his officers to shoot Raees at sight, but Raees brings press with him and surrenders and is well aware Majmudar would kill him. Majmudar takes him to an isolated place and shoots him.Shah Rukh Khan as Raees Alam
Mahira Khan as Aasiya Alam, Raees' wife
Nawazuddin Siddiqui as IPS Jaideep Ambalal Majmudar
Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as Sadiq, Raees' friend and confidante
Sheeba Chaddha as Amina Alam, Raees' mother
Atul Kulkarni as Jairaj Seth
Narendra Jha as Musa
Jaideep Ahlawat as Nawab, Musabhai's assistant
Uday Tikekar as Pasha Bhai
Pramod Pathak as Chief Minister of Gujarat
Utkarsh Mazumdar as Dr. Sanjanwala, Eye Specialist
Kundan Roy as Kalupor
Ashutosh Jha as Rasul
Sunil Upadhyay as Taufiq
Fareed Arif as Eijaz
Loveleen Mishra as Ratna madam, School teacher
Anil Mange as Qasim
Anurag Arora as Damla
Sanjay Gurbaxani as Commissioner
Raj Arjun as Ilyas
Bhagwan Tiwari as Inspector Devji
Shubham Chintamani as young Raees
Shubham Tukaram as young Sadiq
Sunny Leone as Guest appearance in song "Laila Main Laila"
Shooting of the film began in April 2015. The film has been shot in Mumbai, and sets were re-designed to depict Ahmedabad slums. The last schedule of the film was shot in Gujarat in January 2016. Despite protests, the film was shot in Bhuj without disruptions between January and February 2016.
The film was scheduled to be released on Eid, 6 July 2016, but was postponed to avoid box office competition with Salman Khan starrer Sultan. The film was then rescheduled to be released on 26 January 2017, India's Republic Day, which conflicted with Hrithik Roshan starrer Kaabil, but then both films were moved to 25 January 2017. Raees opened to 3500 screens worldwide.
Raees grossed ₹ 129 crore worldwide in its opening weekend. Raees grossed ₹ 271 crore worldwide at the end of its theatrical run. With a total nett collection of 128.77 crore, the film was declared as a "Semi - Hit" by the Box Office India
Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama rated the film 4 out of 5 stars and said director Dholakia "depicts the power play and the cat and mouse chase between Raees and the honest cop Jaideep with flourish and that, in my opinion, is the mainstay of the enterprise."
Nihit Bhave of The Times of India rated the film 3.5 out of 5 stars and wrote, "The movie can feel a bit long, but if you're going for a great SRK performance and some good ol' popcorn-entertainment, it might just 'raees' to the occasion."
Devarshi Ghosh of India Today rated the film 3.5 out of 5 stars and wrote, "The filmmaking is pure masala and this is one well cooked masala movie. The story is not suprprising, but Rahul Dholakia's treatment seems fresh."
Writing for The Hindu, Namrata Joshi gave the film 3 out of 5 stars and wrote, "In Raees, he (SRK) and Dholakia would rather dare than play it safe. The character, a complicated portrayal, is in line with grounding SRK in his faith, and making him rise above it."
Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV rated the film 3 out of 5 stars and commented, "Raees might be markedly unfamiliar territory, but [Dholakia] doesn't let that fact undermine the content and its context. The balance that he achieves lends the film sustained solidity."
Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express rated the film 2.5 out of 5 stars and wrote, "SRK breaks through in some moments but is stymied by florid, seen-too-many-times flourishes in Raees. It is Nawazuddin Siddiqui who really shines through."
Rohit Bhatnagar of Deccan Chronicle rated the film 2 out of 5 stars and said, "The film could have been much more thrilling and gut-wrenching."
Raghav Jaitly from Zee News rated the film 3 out of 5 stars and applauded its "powerhouse performances". He described the film "From dialogue delivery to slow motion sequences, the movie will give you goosebumps at times. If you want to witness high-octane actions, intense emotions and sincere filmmaking, then go for 'Raees'. It amalgamates Shah Rukh's charm and Rahul's intelligence."
Writing for Hindustan Times, Sarit Ray gave the film 2 out of 5 stars, saying "Raees also deserves credit for going with a principal set of Muslim protagonists, a rarity for present-day Bollywood. Nawazuddin Siddiqui has the best lines. Raees perhaps works only as an SRK showcase.", and Anupama Chopra gave the film 3 out of 5 stars, saying "The best way to enjoy Raees then is to manage expectations first. This is an uneven film. In places, you will applaud and whistle. But you might also find yourself utterly exhausted."
Sneha May Francis and Mahwash Ajaz of Dawn respectively commented, "This isn't a fine film. It's vintage Bollywood fluff, which SRK will manage to turn into box-office gold." and, "Raees is the story of neither a hero nor a villain – it is the story of a man who lived in a corrupted system with corrupted morals."
Manjusha Radhakrishnan of Gulf News gave the film 3 out of 5 stars and wrote, "While the film is engaging, what lets it down are some of the contrived and ridiculous twists in the second half. But the climax packs a punch and that misgiving — 'where is this film going?' — is erased."
Rachel Saltz of The New York Times stated that "Avoiding flabby subplots, Mr. Dholakia keeps "Raees" taut and suspenseful, even at two and a half hours, though it probably has a song too many."
There was a clearance issue by Archaeological Survey of India for shooting at Ahmedabad at the ancient mosque and tomb complex, Sarkhej Roza. In March 2016, a legal notice was sent by an alleged gangster, Abdul Latif's son, Mustak, asking how or why a film on his father's life is being made.
A few days after the 2016 Uri terror attack, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) asked for ban on films featuring Pakistani actors on the basis that the actors were not openly condemning terrorism. Raees was on their list, because cast member Mahira Khan is Pakistani. MNS put forward a condition to lift up the ban, that producers shall never cast Pakistani artistes in future and they have to give ₹5 crore as penance to the Indian Army welfare fund, but Indian Army refused to accept it by saying sacrifices should not be politicised. Later, ban was lifted without the conditions on Raees as demanded by MNS.
Farhan Akhtar, co-producer of the film said Raees will never pay, and was threatened by MNS. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra and member of the BJP and the RSS, Devendra Fadnavis said at the meeting with MNS and the producers ₹5 crore as contribution to the Indian Army welfare fund was not quoted compulsory and was never a condition for lifting ban on films featuring Pakistani actors demanded by MNS, and earlier at an event praised Shah Rukh Khan as an "icon" and a "proud Mumbaikar".
Ankita Shorey was the first choice for the female lead of the film, but Mahira Khan got the role, Shorey confirmed that the consideration was not due to the nationality. Shorey later stated that she did not speak about replacement, and did not spell part of the project phrase in her last interview regarding Raees, the actual phrase was "strongly considered for the project", the journalist who took her interview apologised for it. Farhan Akhtar clearly stated that Mahira Khan is in the film like before and nothing has been changed for her part, and the film is ready to release, he further said that if they started the whole film shooting after the terror attack then they would never have signed her depending on the present situation, and concluded by saying showing solidarity to Indian Army is up to them, and only Indian government has the authority to brief them regarding dealing with their conscience, and not by any outsiders.
A day after the release of the trailer of the film, members of the city's Shia community protested the use of religious symbols in the film and lodged a police report. The letter to the police has requested Khan to withdraw all such scenes, and intimated them about a possible peaceful protest in case the request is not met. When contacted, Shilpa Handa from the film's PR agency Spice said that they were still trying to understand the nature of the complaints.
On 11 December 2016, Shah Rukh Khan met MNS supreme Raj Thackeray to assure him that Mahira Khan won't be coming to India to promote the film. On 11 January 2017, it was reported that Shiv Sena again demanded for ban on the movie. They have threatened the cinemas' owners in Chhattisgarh not to screen the film.
Three days before the release of the film, Kailash Vijayvargiya, National General Secretary of BJP, termed Raees as "dishonest" and "anti-national" film, while termed Kaabil as "Patriotic" film, and said earlier in 2015 that Shah Rukh Khan is a defector and he also didn't react to 1993 Bombay bombings and 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The film is banned in Pakistan due to its "objectionable content" by Central Board of Film Censors, the regulatory body and censorship board of Pakistan.
Raees was promoted on various shows which includes The Kapil Sharma Show and Bigg Boss 10, and was also promoted in Dubai. Shah Rukh Khan and Sunny Leone even took a special train ride on August Kranti Rajdhani Express from Mumbai to Delhi on 23–24 January 2017 for promotions, but Farid Khan Sherani, fan of Shah Rukh Khan, also a member of Samajwadi Party died in hospital due to stampede on Vadodara railway platform when the train was leaving the station after a long halt for the promotion in front of huge crowd, many were injured too. Shah Rukh Khan later condoled for his fan's death.