Rustom: Lacks cohesiveness

Film: Rustom
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Ileana Dcruz, Esha Gupta, Arjan Bajwa. Anang Desai, Kumud Mishra, Kanwaljeet,
Director: Tinu Suresh Desai

The 1959 Nanavati murder case that had Mumbai’s sedate Parsi community in a lather, comes back to haunt us in this disappointingly trite, unpardonably obscure return-to-the-past that focuses more on comedic courtroom shenanigans and desultory intrigue for its puerile attachments.

The basic storyline is the same as what transpired in real life way back in the late 50’s when naval officer K.M.Nanavati returned home unexpectedly to find his beloved wife in a tryst with another man and in a fit of anger shoots dead her paramour. In this film, similar to what was shown in the early 70’s production, Sunil Dutt, Leela Naidu starrer ‘Yeh Raaste hain Pyaar Ke,’ the naval officer, celebrated Captain Rustom Pavri (Akshay Kumar) who returns home from a brief stint on INS Mysore, to find his lovely wife Cynthia (Ileana D’cruz) in an adulterous relationship, shoots off three rounds into the heart of her paramour, Sindhi businessman Vikram Makhija (Arjan Bajwa) and then goes right off to the police Inspector Lobo (Pawan Malhotra) owing up to the murder. That’s the simple part really and more-or-less matches up to the true life scenario.

Thereafter the script takes a detour from the original story bringing in make-believe intrigue and ill-fitting suspense in order to make this courtroom drama more than just a human story of love, lust, betrayal and revenge. The post interval session basically primes itself on comedic courtroom moments that play out in bizarre fashion with cutaways to Parsis holding placards and voicing their support for the man in the lock-up.

Some of the placards ‘I want to have your baby’ and ‘Marry me Rustom’ seemed way too out-of-place to be from that early era of the Bombay Presidency. The accused decides to put up his own defence against a public prosecutor(Sachin Khedekar) who is in truck with the victim’s sister Priti (Esha Gupta).The case, presided by Judge (Anang Desai) and a 9 member jury with one solitary woman representative, takes rather haywire, illogical and prejudicial  twists and turns  before assimilating towards a conclusion that appears to have been plucked out of a Madhatter’s ball. The war between two communities and the underhand dealings involved doesn’t get fleshed out satisfactorily.

Throughout the narrative we are treated to a dashing (though aging) Akshay Kumar in full naval regalia, in a rather starchy, expressionless and enigmatic avatar which actually goes against the scenario envisaged by the director. In fact he wears out his costume (never seeking a change) all through his stint on board ship, his crime of passion, his incarceration and courtroom theatrics). It’s as though the director was trying his best to wring out all that jingoistic patriotic fervour from the recurring presence of a mere costume. Ileana D’cruz and Esha Gupta are no better. They too seem outfitted in artifice and lacking in flesh and blood emotionalism. Esha Gupta’s costumes appear to have been 70’s designer cast-offs- such is the inappropriateness of her attire and impeccably primed look.

The screenplay lacks cohesiveness, camerawork can’t hide the crumbliness of this endeavour and the Director doesn’t have a clue as to how to construct a validating judicial trial without making it look unviable. Even the music is forgettable here. The uncharitable, ridiculously envisaged and most often unintentional humour may attract the frontbenchers but that’s all the attachment one is going to get here.

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Free Press Journal