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Review: Akshay Kumar’s “Rustom” Is A Stylish Melodrama That Fails To Impress

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By Jhilmil Breckenridge:

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Ileana D’Cruz, Esha Gupta, Arjan Bajwa, Kumud Mishra, Pawan Malhotra

Director: Tinu Suresh Desai

Neeraj Pandey delivers a period drama, “Rustom” with style and melodrama. Akshay Kumar plays Rustom Pavri, the honourable Navy man to perfection, if a little hackneyed. He enters a police station in old Mumbai (Bombay as it was in 1958) and confesses to shooting an industrialist in a simple crime of passion. A true-life society scandal, this tarted up plot delivers an old story in a new guise, though why should we, in 2016, judge a cheating wife the way the film portrays, and why don’t we connect with Akshay except for the stray moment when he displays emotion?

“Rustom” is based on the infamous 1959 Nanavati case, which already had given birth to a few early films. “Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke (1963) and “Achanak (1973) were the earlier ones, although in “Achanak”, the naval officer kills both the lover and his wife. My father recalls reading the tabloids of that age and the movies, including this one, all of which, do not come close to that real life excitement of the handsome naval officer, his lonely wife, her lover, the murder and the ensuing trial. Apparently, the jury system in India was abolished after this case. “Rustom” changes the story loosely but it dilutes the already spicy story, and the film drags a bit, especially after the intermission. There, the film drags on the court scenes, with very trite performances by the judge, played by Anang Desai and the public prosecutor Lakshman Khangani (Sachin Khedekar). Usha Nadkarni as Jamnabai, the elderly maid, provides some comic relief.

Though it is a period drama, and the sets are gorgeous and well designed, it often looks like a stage performance or theatre, not like a film. The characters project their voices, unlike a movie, and often pieces in the sets, like the vintage sports car, for example, appears to just be placed in a scene, just to reinforce the period and setting. The effects are often slightly jarring, though we are left in no doubt of the era of the film.

The costumes work well. As a woman who enjoys fashion, I did enjoy the vampish appeal and clothes of Esha Gupta, her bright red lips, the long cigarette holders. Ileana D’Cruz plays the lonely wife, Cynthia, pretty, but slightly wooden. My favourite cameos were played by Kumud Mishra, playing the opportunist Billimoria, a Parsi newspaper rag owner and Pawan Malhotra as Lobo, the police investigating officer (best known for playing Hari in the old Doorsharshan soap, “Nukkad”).

Would I suggest watching this film? Only if you love Akshay, as the film announces his entries with such fanfare, the music is turned up several notches, and it almost feels like those Salman Khan films, when Bhai enters. Or if you want to analyse screenplay and the creative side, as I do. Excessively drawn out court scenes, wooden leading ladies, and a slightly predictable ending, this film fails to impress.

Three stars. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

You must be to comment.
  1. kumar vishwesh

    Kindly stop writing reviews as the people and BO collections are making you a joke. Also, it questions your capability of reviewing. In cricket, commentators are the people who had played cricket. In films, anyone can. Will you resign if the film becomes hit? BTW, it has already become. Rate as a viewer, not like a film-maker as you are not the one.

  2. Atul D. Patil

    Who has written that crap review saying Rustom is not upto expectations and it failed to impress etc etc all bakwaas? Rustom is indeed very nicely crafted movie. Nowhere in the overall execution of the script it looses its quality. Don’t go on any bullshit reviewers biased opinion. Indeed its worth watching really good movie. Only thing I felt is, the court room drama was missing Amrish Puri like strong playing advocate. But nevertheless it was all still nice. Go and watch.

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