A film with a cheesy title is often going to be met with scorn and apprehension. Rocky Handsome has been widely promoted in mainstream media with a barrage of social media advertising to go along with it. Yet, there appears to be an impenitent ignorance among the public concerning this flick. Is it because John Abraham is perceived as an overgrown halfwit? Is it because Shruti Hassan’s overemphasized lips are having the opposite effect of what was intended? Or is it because Rocky Handsome is a legit, unadulterated action film?  Maybe, it’s down to all these factors.

A thriller by genre, Rocky Handsome has enough action to satiate your appetite. But queerly, it leaves you asking for more. John is irrefutably adamantine as Rocky/Kabir Ahlawat. A stoic man with a tragic past, Kabir lives in isolation. The only person in the whole wide world who seems to give a damn about him is his pesky neighbor, a seven year girl dealing with mommy issues. These broken individuals connect over meals and banter, building a bond which seems fragile at the start. Their relationship becomes increasingly tensile as Kabir takes on the drug/organ trafficking mafia in order to save the girl from a ghastly fate. A nuance of self-redemption is woven into the plot through this act of salvation, which isn’t adequately exploited.

Kabir ploughs through the baddies with unrestrained defiance. The climax scene in particular is sickeningly difficult to watch, as Kabir tears into flesh and bone with a pair of knives in an almost artistic manner. The absence of action sequences in the first half might surprise you. A spate of the same in the second half is likely to throw you off your seat.

Nishikant Kamat has not opted for old-school dishoom-dishoom. On the contrary, the action is stylishly choreographed, especially the hand-to-hand combat scenes. You have never seen anything like this in Hindi cinema before.

The plot is unquestionably weak. There are several situations which seem blatantly concocted for convenience. The casting, apart from John and the kid, appears off and is largely laughable. The villains are diabolically hysterical, perhaps in attempt to instill fear in the audience. All they really manage to do is come across as being unintentionally hilarious. The less-than appealing songs further induce irritation upon the viewer. There are as many as two item songs in the film, one of which unnecessarily disrupts a gripping fight scene in the washroom of a club.

Standing tall amidst this carnage is a strong and silent John Abraham. As a producer and as an actor, he is probably aware that the rest of the film adds cosmetic value to what is essentially an invitation to indulge in some of the fanciest action we are likely to see this year. This is John’s best work till date and dare I say, Kamat’s best work as well. A master copycat, Kamat has given us some thrilling entertainers in Force and Drishyam. Rocky Handsome deservedly should be considered of the same ilk.

Rating: 3/5


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