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Rustom [2016]: Mildly entertaining, wasted opportunity.

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I enjoyed Rustom. Despite what the title of this article suggests or whatever idea you get in the end of it, I am making it clear that I liked watching it and not at all regretted the two and half hour long experience (totally unrelated, but I do regret the Mohenjo Daro experience, which I braved before Rustom by the way). But Rustom is not a good film. It is overly long, has a flawed script and seems either over-smart or terribly stupid every now and then.

The biggest problem of this movie is how it takes an interesting real life story (as inspiration) and then dumbs it down for the sake of commercial movie audience. It is a pretty common trait of several Bollywood movies these days (Airlift, starring the same leading man of Rustom, the ever-so-likeable Akshay Kumar is a great example of that) where they actually take stories with enough material to land a smart, neatly made movie but intentionally messes it up with your staple romantic track, unnecessary comedy and catchy humm-able songs which don’t really go well with the script at all. I get it, it’s for attracting a larger audience and business is important, but still can’t really accept it as a movie enthusiast.

Rustom 1

Coming back to Rustom, this is a thriller cum courtroom drama set in the sixty’s Mumbai (then Bombay) where a very honourable honest-to-god Indian navy officer finds out about his wife’s affair with an indecent man and ends up killing that man, then pleading not guilty to the court. A premise with enough meat to make an intense, engaging courtroom drama for sure, which unfortunately doesn’t happen because of the screenplay which is half-decent at most, poor editing and the routine commercialisation I have already mentioned.

What works in favour of the movie is an earnest performance from its leading man and some great performances from the character actors in the supporting cast (Pawan Malhotra, especially). Kumar has done better works before but he is great here and carries the character (and the film) very well. The ladies (Ileana D’Cruz and an extremely annoying one noted Esha Gupta) fail to match Kumar and the rest of the cast, though.

Rustom 2

Another issue I had with Rustom is, it’s a very uneven film and changes its tone in a very weird way. For example, during an interrogation scene when Malhotra’s character is questioning Kumar, an Arijit Singh song appears in the flashback and hampers the smooth proceeding. The comedy elements, are mostly forced though some of those are actually funny. In a particularly hilarious scene, the judge actually trolls the prosecution lawyer (a very loud Sachin Khedekar) for calling an “Objection” much later than he expected. I liked that scene, but then again, it doesn’t fit in a movie like this, to be honest. Another thing that doesn’t fit in is the extra-marital affair subplot, which is a fruit of lazy, clueless writing. The direction (by Tinu Suresh Deshai) is okay, but a Neeraj Pandey might have done a far better job, I am saying.

Overall, Rustom is, although watchable (and enjoyable) but ultimately a wasted opportunity. It will probably do well at the box-office thanks to its star power and great promotion, but that is about it.

PS:- I really wish Akshay Kumar starts doing films with the likes of Anurag Kashyap, Imtiaz Ali and Dibakar Banerjee.

★★½

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