Akshay Kumar has successfully carved a niche for himself in Hindi cinema, as an actor competent of marvellously mixing the pragmatic with the preposterous. His unique ability to keep the box-office buzzing with asinine releases such as ‘Singh is Bliing’ and ‘Housefull 3’ along with sensibly delivered dramas in ‘Airlift‘ and ‘Baby’ has sustained his longevity in the industry. With ‘Rustom’ though, Akshay appears to have gloriously misfired on several accounts. (Pun intended)
Pitched as a realistic drama based on the ‘Nanavati vs State of Maharashtra case’ of 1959 as a reference point, ‘Rustom’ holds more similarities to the referenced incident than its makers are willing to admit. From the ethnicities of the characters to the blatantly plagiarised line used in the promotional posters, you could run out of pages while jotting parallelisms.
Unfortunately, these numerous correspondences imply an expected sense of sincerity from the film, which refuses to show up during the tedious duration. An unnecessary sub-plot surrounding a military controversy periodically threatens to overthrow the crux of the plot, which is the cold-blooded killing of an affluent playboy by a decorated officer due to his extra-marital affair with the officer’s wayward wife. The plot, in itself, has several layers that could have been explored but serves no more than a flimsy foundation for a bunch of maddening distractions. The deliberate patriotism angle seems forced and irrelevant to the story at hand.
To make matters worse, some of the primary characters, such as Esha Gupta, Arjan Bajwa and Illeana D’Cruz are morosely one-tone. Gupta, the vengeful sister of the deceased adulterer, appears to have walked out of a salon in every frame. Her risible hairdo and attire packed with that monotonous expression make for some unintentional humour. Bajwa is given a grating background score which is slightly more detestable than his performance. Illeana is reduced to showing merely two emotions in the movie and plays what just might be the most disempowered character we have seen on screen in awhile.
Akshay is dependably genuine but displays a narrower arc of emotions than Monalisa. His pristine uniform might have arrived from the dry cleaners in practically every scene. Even though he spends his days and nights in prison, his hairstyle remains proper without a strand out of place.
At close to 150 minutes, ‘Rustom’ is a test of patience. A stronger focus on the plot minus the tangential deviations may have greatly helped in making a taut drama. Apparently, the three shots fired by the naval officer shook the nation back in 1959. This movie, though, puts the viewer in a state of coma that can’t be shaken off for hours post viewing.