Rowdy Rathore

Actors: Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Nassar
Genre: Action-Comedy
Rating: 4/5

It’s not so much about herd culture as much it is about make hay while the sun shines. Dabangg and Singham, respectively, had for a protagonist, a moustache-bearing police officer with overbearing mannerisms, always involved in hyperbolic action sequences, interested in a small-town girl, and stood against village chieftain/mafia playing the main villain. The rest of the story in either films (and many more such to come) could be about frequent bouts between our hero and the baddies, hero playing hard to get for the girl, hero taking rap from higher-ups such as politicians, senior officials, etc. So making hay while sun shines (B and C class centers mainly, seems like), is Rowdy Rathore along same lines as above, except there is a look-alike angle to the plot. Originally made in Telugu as Vikramarkudu, the storyline has been easily adapted for the Hindi-speaking audiences. In short, the story centers around a Mumbai based thug (Shiva) who falls in love with Paro (Sonakshi), and in parallel finds himself in the eye of a storm – one that is trying to devour Shiva’s lookalike, the heroic Vikram Rathore, a bad-ass cop vying to bring down a corrupt village goon, MLA Babjee (Nasser). You can imagine the rest of the plot when I tell you that the onus of setting things right back in the village falls on Shiva’s shoulders.

PERFORMANCES:
This movie demanded the lead actor to have a mix of acting talents – action, comic timing, youthfulness, emotion, anger, bravado, and hamming, yes. There could not have been a better choice than Akshay as no one else currently can showcase all the above (esp the last one) and so easily. While twirling the moustache and delivering a punchline like “Jo mai bolta hoon..” multi-times can fall flat on the face, Akshay pulls it off well. While portraying a caricature like Shiva is something he has done more often in the recent past, what’s commendable is being able to switch mannerisms from those of Shiva to those of Rathore and back, and also how Shiva does a Rathore. This film being a direct adaptation of a Telugu masala film, you find Akshay on the screen in every single frame, trying to build a demi-god stature of him one scene after another. I particularly liked how he was able to pull off coloured jeans all through the film – colours like red and yellow, that is.  Although Prabhu Deva is the choreographer, Akshay is not seen doing any scintillating dance moves, but no prizes for guessing that Akshay has two left feet.

Sonakshi as a girl from Patna, has a short role, and mainly appears in song sequences. But it’s mighty commendable how confidently she now shares screen space with a seasoned actor like Akshay. As Paro, Sonakshi could well have just been her real self. In a movie where practically all types of sub-genres converged, she has made sure her presence was acknowledged and liked although hers wasn’t a performance-oriented role. Also, nothing Sonakshi does is overboard or is  detrimental to the script. Nassar as Baabji, a (typical) corrupt and gavaar MLA from a Bihari village does his part so well that you want to slap him the next possible instant he is in front of you. Although Nassar has done few Hindi films, he’s only played the good guy. Clad in khadi baniyan and dhoti, chewing tobacco, and passing lewd comments, Nasser  stands out as a villain you’d love to hate. His best is the scene in which Yashpal Sharma’s wife has been abducted and held hostage at his home to sleep with his son, and Yashpal, knowing so, only begs for Baabji’s assistance in finding his “missing” wife  – and this scene takes Baabji’s vileness further. There are not many shades to his role but the consistency with which he has delivered speaks about the depth of his acting experience.

DIRECTION, SCREENPLAY & CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Armed with experience from down south, Director Prabhu Deva knew exactly which elements would work in this masala film and which ones wouldn’t. The plot does not exude brilliance, but what keeps the audience hooked is the interplay of sub-genres that don’t last more than few scenes. So really, this film is not for folks wanting to get absorbed into the movie, which is not very plausible but also is logically absurd at times. Even if I choose to ignore all story-based flaws, I wonder why Shiva was chosen as guardian of Rathore’s kid. Just because he was a look-alike of Rathore? Two, why did  Rathore (struck on the head in a procession) leave to Mumbai with his kid? Three, even if Shiva later chose to seek vengeance for Rathore, how was it so easy for him to become part of the Police force? Questions like these are better left unasked if you wish to be entertained. The direction is overall commendable as Prabhu stitches all the elements together to keep the flow entertaining at all times.

While entertainment is one side of the coin, relevance is the other side, and this responsibility was owned by Screenwriter Shiraz Ahmed. The screenplay is very engaging and there are no dull moments in the film. The first half is interspersed with adequate amount of suspenseful scenes keeping the audience engaged and making them expect a parallel storyline to commence. Scenes in the second half are more or less in a an expected order and format, by when the audience’s expectations are set, and there is more focus on credibly bridging Shiva’s goal to the climax – credit to Shiraz again. Cinematography by Santosh Thundiyil is the most southern-cinema element of Rowdy Rathore. So many common denominators – the moustache, and focus on the girl’s navel, the locales where the songs are shot like temples, fields and dams, use of background dancers, the hyper-angry facial expressions, the gory action sequences, the bomb blasts – are all captured via Santosh’s lens just as they must be for a plot like this. Prabhu Deva’s choreography is pretty visible in songs such as Jintata jita jita, and esp in Dhadang Dhadang with the use of 3 dancer couples in the far background matching moves with Akshay and Sonakshi. Credit again to Santosh for capturing such art beautifully.

WHY 4/5:
Management Guru Peter Drucker said “There is only one valid definition of a business purpose – to create a customer”. If Wanted, Singham, Dabangg created a customer who likes the new masala (loves it?), why would you not sell him/her a product like Rowdy Rathore? That said, the plusses are Akshay Kumar, the double-role which let him showcase much more, Prabhu Deva’s Direction, Shiraz’s cinematography.

The bad: Unwanted action sequences could have been eliminated. More logical bridging of Shiva and Rathore’s lives, more logical leap of faith by Vijay into Rathore’s life.

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