Friday, August 12, 2016

review: RUSTOM

Laughter In The Courtroom.
Bahut Naainsafi Hai!

2.5 reluctant stars

Mini Review:

A fictionalised version of the famous (or the infamous?) Nanavati case where a Naval officer shot his wife’s lover should have been a brilliant courtroom drama, but ends up being ridiculous, with the director opting for cheap laughs. As Gabbar would say, 'Bahut naainsafi hai!' Akshay Kumar looks handsome in the uniform, but the mooch… the mooch…

Main Review:

Yes, the winged pencil moustache is hugely distracting. And it makes Akshay Kumar look even more morose than he is supposed to be in the movie.

That said, it should not take away anything from the original story. It is rather fascinating. A decorated Naval officer walks into the police station and confesses to shooting his wife’s lover. The case attracted huge crowds and media attention. And was landmark case because after the conclusion, the jury system in India was abolished because they saw how easily the media and emotions could affect the outcome.

What is amazing about the murder is that the story was written even before the events occurred in real life. The coincidences are distinctly odd and provident.

The story has all the elements of an exciting courtroom drama where the prosecution would need to prove - with all the evidence at hand - that the murder was planned and executed after a lot of thought, that it was ‘premeditated’. And the defense insisted that the accused was an honorable man, and the murder was a reaction and a step taken in the heat of the moment upon learning that his best friend was cuckolding him.

The information you will read on the net is so interesting that you will be forced to watch Achanak (1973 award winning film directed by Gulzar) and even Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke (1963 film starring Ashok Kumar, Sunil Dutt and Leela Naidu and directed by R. K. Nayyar).

The film claims that it is based on the Nanavati case. If only! Rustom gets all the cosmetic things right, but it lacks substance.

The costumes, the candy colors are all very reminiscent of the years just after independence. It is rather charming to see the lifestyles of the rich and famous replicated well. Arjan Bajwa, who plays the villain is made to wear the funnest of costumes: a yellow sports jacket at a club in the evening, a lurid villainous satin dressing gown when seducing the heroine. The vampish Esha Gupta gets a cigarette holder to hang on to each time she’s in the frame. She gets great looking evening gowns and skirt suits to wear. Ileana (as credited on screen) gets to wear sarees that are pretty and sheds tears all through the movie. She even gets an orange silk saree that magically dries (it’s raining!) as soon as the villainous seducer picks her up in his arms. But wait! What is an old as the hills story about clever cop asking four errant hawaldars to write down ‘which tyre of the car was punctured’ doing in the film? What’s Mumbai’s caricature ‘kaamwali bai’ doing in the movie? The stereotypical housemaid does not belong to that age! It’s like finding Thai bird chilly in you rasam, like finding curry leaves in your steak, like finding apricot in your kheer…

Then suddenly loud background music begins to grate on your nerves and stops completely when there is a ‘dialog’ to be spoken. The background music is so harsh, everyone in the audience would get down on their knees and confess to the murder. Or two. Or more…

The courtroom drama, upon which the story hinges, has a twist you can see a mile away. But you keep hoping Akshay Kumar will save the day, somehow. That is not so. Even his perfect posture, his awesome abs (even though he is wearing the uniform all through the movie) do not save the courtroom proceedings from being daft.

The lawyer prosecuting the case (Sachin Khedekar) just makes a mockery of his role, so does the editor of the tabloid (Blitz in real life, and the tabloid played a huge part in swaying people’s emotions).

And even though Pavan Verma tries his best to be the upright cop investigating the case, and Brijendra Kala his sidekick, there is no tension, no drama in the courtroom. There could have been added drama had they explained why a wife who cheated on her husband stayed by his side during the trial. But no. The silly comical treatment of what could have been stunning, tension-filled narrative fails to deliver anything but a ‘Akshay makes different films’ excuse. Law & Order on TV has better drama in one hour than this two and a half an hour long film. And the Pradeep Kumar moustache on Akshay Kumar doesn’t help.

(This post appears on nowrunning dot com)

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