I would like to start this review with a mention of Rustom’s intriguing trailer. The trailer really quipped my interest for the film. I knew for a fact that the movie was a murder mystery more than anything else. The fact that Neeraj Pandey, the man who brought us films like A Wednesday, Baby and Special 26, was producing this film only added to my interest. However, it was being directed by Tinu Suresh Desai who made the atrocious 1920 London. That was a matter of concern which was however quickly negated by the presence of Akshay Kumar, the man who hasn’t taken a single wrong foot for a long time now.
The film declares that it is a work of fiction to start with. Even with the obvious relation to the KM Nanavati case, the film adds some mystery and added scandals to its screenplay to make it even more accessible and relatable to the entertainment seeking audiences. The director is able to maintain suspense and doesn’t give up his cards right till the end. This is something that serves the film really well. I for once was intrigued by the case and just wanted to know what was actually happening. Let’s try to find out through this review whether the film is able to keep up with its promises or not.
Rustom Pavri is a dedicated and brilliant Navy Officer who comes home early from a tour to find out his wife in an illicit relation with another man. He shoots the man and surrenders to the police. As the case begins, Rustom shocks the whole country when he pleads not-guilty of murder. As the case proceeds, the police investigator tries to uncover the true reason behind his act and also answer some of the unanswered questions about the Navy that pop up from time to time. Rustom receives unprecedented support from a media house and also the public who want him acquitted of all his charges. On the other hand, Preety, who happens to be the murdered man’s sister leaves no stone unturned to have Rustom hanged. What happens next forms the story of Rustom.
The film is intriguing and doesn’t give up its plot right till the end. There are spates of scenes where you have a feeling that Rustom might not be the patriot that everyone thinks him to be. These scenes add to the charm and mystery of the film. It’s difficult for a film to show the killer in the first fifteen minutes of its runtime and then hold on to the attention of the audiences for the rest of the narrative. Rustom successfully achieves that. Akshay Kumar plays a charming Rustom Pavri with such élan and confidence that you can’t help but fall in love with him. He is mysterious, speaks less and is rock steady in his mannerisms. The best thing about his act is to see him in that uniform.
The rest of the cast members do their parts as well. Esha Gupta, Kumud Misra, Sachin Khedekar, Ileana D’Cruz, Pavan Malhotra and Usha Nadkarni are all apt in their acts. Kumud Misra is a comic relief and he does well to make an impact. His one to one with the judge is extremely funny. However, at times you feel that his character could have been developed a tad bit more and that way his crusade for Rustom would have acquired more significance and importance. Esha Gupta is a prototype vamp of the sixties and she exudes confidence but has very limited range in terms of expressions. Pavan Malhotra is a fantastic actor and his act is in keeping with his repertoire. His one on one with Akshay Kumar’s Rustom is great to watch. Usha Nadkarni is too loud for the liking. Arjan Bajwa as the evil womanizer who has the better of Rustom’s wife is perfectly hateable.
Having said all that, Rustom still has a few major problems. The biggest of its problems is the fact that the narrative tries to make a caricature of the whole story. It makes fun way too often and in sequences that needed seriousness. The courtroom sequence, for instance, is laced with jokes and over the top comedy from Sachin Khedekar when he should have been a no-nonsense lawyer trying to nail Rustom. The film in the act of trying to keep the narrative chirpy and not letting it get darker (which it should have been) infuses a lot of comic and light moments which hit the seriousness of the story terribly and doesn’t let the film raise up to a level from where it can be respected. Also vital plot points like the one involving Akshay Kumar asking for money from the Navy, the naval corruption and why he made such a fuss of the murder are never convincingly explained. In spite of being fiction, the film needed to resolve each of the plot points properly to make an impact which it fails to do. There are loads of questions that remain unanswered and that hurts the narrative and the charm of the film immensely.
Once the mystery and the prime plot points are uncovered, the audience is forced to ask the question “was this what it was all about?” Therein lies the film’s greatest weakness. It doesn’t deliver on its promises of thrill by the time it resolves the mystery. It also takes a lot of time in the first half to get to the point. In the second half, it makes a mockery of the legal proceedings which in no way helps its cause. Last but not the least, no matter how charming Akshay’s act may be, he doesn’t sell for a Parsi. Having said all that, Rustom is still a very watchable fair. The fact that it keeps you engrossed and has a great performance from Akshay is enough to merit a view at least. If you can keep your expectations low, you may just love it.
Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)