Reviews

Rustom

by P Sinha

 Posted on 12-Aug-2016 10:11 PM


K. M. Nanavati vs. State of Maharashtra was a case that had an immense impact on India – it was perhaps the first time when media played a decisive role in mobilizing public opinion. The tabloid Blitz successfully made it a war between an upright, moral and patriotic officer with middle class values and the depraved upper echelons of Bombay. This case also ended the jury system in India for good. The legal wrangling following the murder also polarized the Parsi and Sindhi communities. Sindhis supported Mamie Ahuja, sister of Prem Ahuja who was murdered. Ram Jethmalani, a Sindhi, was the advisor for prosecution. Russy Karanjia (editor of Blitz) threw his lot after fellow Parsi Nanavati and his defense lawyer Karl Khandavala was also a Parsi. Not many know that when Nanavati was pardoned, in an effort to appease Sindhi community, a Sindhi trader, Bhai Pratap, was also released.

 

                                                      rustom

                                                              By Zee Studio, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49620159

Director Tinu Desai has attempted to recreate the Bombay of 1960s. It feels like his Bombay is based on nostalgia rather than reality. The Bombay in the film is too opulent and sanitized to be real. Akshay is Rustom Pavri, a bright young naval officer madly in love with his wife Cynthia (Illeana D’Cruz). Rustom is away on sea and upon his return, finds his wife indulging in an affair with their wealthy friend, Vikram Makhija (Arjan Bajwa). Rustom is shattered, and in a rage pumps three bullets into Vikram, killing him. Public opinion rallies in Rustom’s support, in no less measure helped by Erach Billimoria (Kumud Chaudhary), who uses this opportunity to drive sales of his publication, printing all the gossip that he can gather on the case. Post murder, the story shifts to the courtroom where Rustom defends himself. There is also a twist in the tale with the murder having undertones of blackmail and treason to it.

Rustom is without any question Akshay Kumar’s showcase and the star does not disappoint. He is understated, deceptive and endearing. His Rustom connects easily with the audience. This film will add another feather in Akshay’s getting-crowded-fast cap. Irrespective of how the film is reviewed, Akshay’s performance will be lauded. He is one actor who is successful playing both sides of the aisle, the mass entertainers as well as the intelligent films.

The weakest link perhaps, is the screenplay. There is already so much drama in the real story, it did not need additional elements of fiction. In trying to add further intrigue, the makers actually blunt the impact of the film. This film could have been an opportunity to compare and contrast the two characters and what they meant for Cynthia. Perhaps one provided the safe humdrum of a naval life while the other sucked her in the fast life of Bombay’s rich and famous. The film could have explored the complexity of a relationship where husband is gone away for long while the lonely wife is surrounded by well-heeled attractive people. Aren’t the circumstances conducive for giving in to temptations? Perhaps Rustom was a flawed man who could not digest his woman preferring someone else over him? Such a treatment may have reduced the protagonist’s heroism but would have made it so much more believable and interesting.  Instead we have a man who can do no wrong and a leading lady who is ever so remorseful and in pain for letting her husband down. Rustom sticks to the black vs. white template that went out of vogue more than a decade back. Vikram Makhija’s character gets worse treatment. He is not just a womanizer but a corrupt traitor who dabbles in shady deals. He deserves to die, you see.

As far as performances are concerned, Illeana is required to shed copious tears and look pretty that she does adeptly. Esha Gupta as Vikram Makhija’s sister is good as the arrogant and mean socialite. Pawan Malhotra once again proves his mettle as the police inspector. Sachin Khedekar as the prosecutor and Usha Nadkarni as the domestic help are on melodrama overdrive.

Aided by Akshay’s solid performance, Rustom is still a onetime watch. With better handling, it could have been memorable.


Rating : 3/5

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Ileana D''Cruz, Arjan Bajwa, Esha Gupta, Usha Nadkarni, Sachin Khedekar, Kumud Mishra, Pawan Malhotra

Director: Tinu Suresh Desai


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