Bringing back a more than fifty years old ‘trend changing’ famous case of 1959, RUSTOM is a cunningly made film that purposefully exploits the controversial proceedings and tries to please its majority of unconcerned or unaware viewers turning it into a comic one.
Surprisingly a much better attempt by director Tinu Suresh Desai post his forgettable 1920 LONDON, the film has been written (screenplay, story and dialogues) by Vipul K. Rawal and together the writer-director present a completely Bollywoodish interpretation targeting the galleries, instead of any praiseworthy, brave or enlightening film about our judicial past. Further working on the present Hit image of Akshay Kumar, they also spice it up with a deliberately added ‘Patriotic Angle’ too, which actually looks foolish and spoils the entire spirit of the film taking it far away from a thought provoking case of infidelity, raising many important questions of ‘Gender Bias’ in our society.
Sharing my thoughts while watching the film in the theatre, at first I was in a good mood of appreciating RUSTOM till interval, as the first half sensibly represents the real life inspired incidents re-discovering a ‘landmark case’ of the late 50s focusing on its key characters. Yes, the director takes too long to establish relationships in this very first hour that could have been avoided. Yet the film does have some engaging moments to offer (before interval) and it doesn’t really disappoint despite the extra length.
However what happens post intermission as a court room drama simply reduces the film to a silly or rather dumb presentation of the case, where instead of exploring the emotional state of its various characters, the director desperately tries to win over the viewers with all cheap tactics turning the opposition lawyer (Sachin Khedekar), the witness (Usha Nadkarni), the newspaper editor (Kumud Sharma) and even the honorable judge (Anang Desai) into mere comedians with dialogues specially written to simply please the masses.
As a result a worth contemplating case gets sacrificed for a forcibly added heroism, a pointless angle of corruption and an unrelated spirit of patriotism just thrown in to encash the timely release and nothing else. In fact a few insertions are so illogical and hilarious dealing with the corrupt officers, that you wonder how the writers actually got those approved, like the 5 crore transfer in the Swiss account (deposited for what?), confirmation of which is even given by passing over a Receipt making it completely official.
In specific words, the second half completely shattered my excitement to watch a good film and within minutes I forgot all I could appreciate in its first half. But at the same time, I also noticed people in the theater enjoying the film as An Entertaining Courtroom Comedy instead of An Intense Crime Drama to be precise. And I really have no idea why Neeraj Pandey allowed such a mindless twist given to a sensitive track in a film that was doing just fine before the intermission focusing on the right elements.
Coming to the technical department, the art director tries too hard to present the gone era that looks lousy and highly artificial except the eye-catching costumes. The cinematography and background score keeps adding to this ‘Plastic Feel’ of the film throughout and the editor makes no effort to make it sharp and crisp right till the end. Wisely not including the songs just for the sake of it, the soundtrack does have a couple of above average numbers used in the beginning, but again its not anything highly melodious or compelling to take back home.
Continuing with his ‘intelligently chosen’ image of a new-age ‘Bharat Kumar’, Akshay yet again delivers an impressive ‘no smiling’ performance in RUSTOM playing a Naval Officer for the first time. But despite presenting him in a pleasing navy uniform defending his own case in the court, the film doesn’t prove to be any patriotic project at all giving you a clear picture. So this ‘patriotism feel’ is all forced and unreal, unlike his last attempts as HOLIDAY, BABY and AIRLIFT stressing on this major feature. Besides, his character also has nothing to do with the Parsi community in the film other than the name given.
Among the rest, Ileana D'Cruz as Akshay’s wife is decent and so is Arjan Bajwa playing the victim playboy. Esha Gupta gets loud in almost her every single scene as the vamp and Kumud Sharma looks like a comedian in the role of a clever, opportunist newspaper editor interested in only his ‘copies sold’. However the one person who truly lifts up the film in the first half is none other than the ever dependable Pavan Malhotra, shining bright as the clever, investigating officer Inspector Lobo. And how I wish RUSTOM was made focusing on the clash between Akshay and Pavan alone woven around the infamous case.
In short, what we get to see in the tediously long RUSTOM is a strong potential base of a ‘significant court case’ converted into a comedy, making no effort to enlighten the viewers about how it became a reason for ‘the landmark change’ in the judicial system of our country ‘abolishing the jury system’. As a matter of fact the way a jury is horribly presented like a bunch of idiots in the film clearly reveals that the producer/director actually had NO intentions to make any ‘important film’ and just wished to deliver another decently earning ‘Casual public pleasing’ movie using this specific case.
Having said that, the other bitter truth about RUSTOM remains that in spite of mocking at the crucial court case of the past, the film still might get liked by a majority of viewers who actually don’t know anything about the particular case and may be are not interested in it too due to their own reasons.
Consequently where it may not work for the section well aware of the controversial case, the film might successfully be a fine one time watch for others due to its typical filmy second half playing to the masses …….. pointing towards our social irony.
Nevertheless ending on a distinctive note, for a moment just think about the case and try to assume that,
What if it was the lady serving the county in one of our defense forces in the place of the husband?
A wife who picks up the gun and shoots the other woman thrice, having affair with her husband living alone while she was on duty serving the nation for a few months or may be years.
Now in such a case, will the lady be also looked upon as a strong positive personality doing the right thing as RUSTOM or she will be treated as a WITCH....... (wished to write the other word you very well know).
Just give it a thought and accept the cruel reality of our ‘gender biased’ society always thinking from a male's perspective.
Rating : 2.5 / 5
Note: Addressing the repetitive issue of ‘Unfair increase in ticket price by the Multiplexes’.
Though my site and write-ups might be too small in front of the big runners and my voice raised against this MULTIPLEX MAFIA also might not get heard or reach anywhere.
But what nobody can stop me from is deducting ONE STAR from every such film that takes ‘we the viewers’ for granted (in revolt). So a star goes from the rating of RUSTOM too since every big actor, director, production house and exhibitor is equally contributing in this sheer exploitation and willfully ignoring the issue over the last couple of years.
Final Rating : 2.5 – 1 = 1.5 / 5
Remembering Ajanta Art’s movie made in 1963.
The class act of Ashok Kumar and Moti Lal as the two lawyers in YEH RAASTE HAIN PYAR KE remains untouched and enjoyable even today when RUSTOM re-visits the same case after five long decades so irresponsibly.
Incidentally this write-up written in May 2014 also formed a chapter of my book DID YOU KNOW (Vol.1) published in Sep-Oct. 2014, much before RUSTOM was probably even conceived.
The book has 51 chapters of such interesting information about our Hindi Cinema and is available at all reputed online portals (Indian and International), links of which can be found at this single publisher’s page mentioned below:
Hope it proves to be a good read worthy of both your time and money spent with