|The ApunKaChoice movie review of Rowdy Rathore. A rip-roaring Akshay Kumar rescues a raggedy Rowdy Rathore from the clutches of banality with his sheer punch power and hilarity. But for him the film is reduced to a mishmash of Bollywood stereotypes surrounding a supercop and a bunch of shabby goons led by a decidedly repulsive, saliva-driveling, spit-spraying antagonist (Nasser).
It’s a faceoff we’ve seen by dozen in Bollywood ever since Salman Khan restarted the rat-race of slambang actioners with runaway hits like Wanted, Dabangg and Bodyguard. It’s a genre where the hero singlehandedly decimates scores of overfed goons, mouths punchy oneliners to elicit roars of approval from starstruck fans, and in between also gets to shake his shanks with his pretty ladylove, with a signature dance step thrown in. So predictability is one thing we have to be content with while watching Rowdy Rathore. That granted, we are also expected to chuck out any hope for a gripping plot, with subtle twists, turns, red-herrings or open strands that all tie up neatly as the film wraps up. Nah! If you expect all that, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
Rowdy Rathore is the elevation of the Bollywood stereotype to the rowdiest crest. It’s loud, ostentatious, gaudy, banal, and repeatedly teeters on the brink of imbecility, but then Akshay Kumar, the comedian, comes to the party and rescues the film just when the wheels threaten to come off. Credit to him, the film isn’t the disaster it could have been. And credit to him, it might even turn out to be a money-spinner.
Shiva (Akshay Kumar) is a street-smart conman and a petty thief in Mumbai. He falls for a pretty damsel Priya (Sonakshi Sinha) and vows to mend his ways when he’s encumbered with the responsibility of looking after a six-year-old girl who calls him ‘papa’. Truth is that the girl’s real father Inspector Vikram Rathore (Akshay again) is a cop presumed dead by his enemies in Devgarh, Bihar, until an empty coffin is hauled up. The goons, led by Bapaji (Nasser), rule, ravage and rape Devgarh and they don’t want the status quo to change, not the least by the man they thought bumped off.
The rest of the story is about how the goons take on Vikram Rathore, and how his lookalike Shiva, a mute spectator at first, joins the cop’s cause to free Devgarh of the evil Bapaji’s iron fist.
The story, you see, is nothing to write home about and you feel none the wiser to see the story unravel and conclude exactly as anticipated. Which brings the spotlight down to the execution, to how well can director Prabhu Deva tell the story which’s not just staggeringly predictable but also a remake of a 2006 Telugu blockbuster Vikramarkudu. There too, Prabhu Deva disappoints, save for the sequences involving Shiva, the conman.
One can’t help but smile to see Shiva’s sleight of hand at work: how he nicks mobile phones off people, and no sooner than the guy realizes he’s been robbed, the phone’s sold off and the money safely pocketed. Shiva’s home, particularly, is a sight to behold. Nothing in it is not stolen. The BMC park benches, telephone booths, a donation box, road dividers, buffers, flower pots, car chassis, and, even a metal detector gate -- it has it all.
It’s in these hilarious moments that the film’s graph slopes upward, but the gut-wrenching action sequences just before and after the interval, though not badly filmed, do get on one’s nerves. Half way into the second half, Akshay comes to the party when he, as the rapscallion and rowdy Rathore takes on the might of Bapaji and his goliath of a brother.
Rowdy Rathore is Akshay Kumar’s show all the way. Sonakshi Sinha doesn’t get much scope for performance and Nasser is every bit vile he’s supposed to be. The film’s music is a mixed bag, but you’ll enjoy watching ‘Chinta Ta Ta Chita’, particularly a leg-breaking cameo by Prabhu Deva. Alas, he’s not half as good with direction.
But no sweat, as long as Akshay Kumar the comedian is on song, this new raging rapscallion of a Rathore is strongly welcome.
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5