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Film review: Rustom is guilty of wasting incredible true-life story

The film focuses on the infamous 1959 KM Nanavati murder trial that aroused public passion to the extent that the Indian government subsequently abolished jury trials.
Akshay Kumar in Rustom. Courtesy Zee Studios
Akshay Kumar in Rustom. Courtesy Zee Studios

Rustom

Director: Tinu Suresh Desai

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Ileana D’Cruz, Esha Gupta, Arjan Bajwa

Two stars

Tinu Desai’s much-anticipated Rustom is many things – but mostly it is a crushing disappointment for fans of Bollywood’s resident patriot, Akshay Kumar.

After his perfectly balanced performances in Baby and Airlift, the drudgery that accounts for most of Rustom’s run-time was a surprise.

The fact that it had a ready-made blockbuster premise – the infamous 1959 KM Nanavati murder trial that aroused public passion to the extent that the Indian government subsequently abolished jury trials – adds insult to filmmaking injury.

How do you take a story that is so explosive and an actor so well-suited to the role as Akshay Kumar and still botch things up? Tinu Desai manages just that.

Celebrated naval officer Rustom Pavri (Kumar) gets home a few days early after a six-month assignment, only to find his wife Cynthia (Ileana D’Cruz) is having an affair with Vikram Makhija (Arjan Bajwa).

Rustom puts three bullets into Vikram’s chest, killing him, and then hands himself in to police. The remainder of the film is a courtroom drama with an unnecessary twist and conspiracy theory.

Early in the film, you realise that Rustom is going to be a tacky-looking, badly lit and over-saturated film. One could perhaps overlook this visual assault if writer Vipul Rawal and director Desai had managed to capture the electric nature of the original case. That they don’t even try is what is truly unforgivable.

Almost every actor looks unconvinced about what they are doing, but they ham it up through the hysterics that the director presumably demanded.

D’Cruz’s character is vacuous, Kumar’s stoic Rustom seems more bored than composed, while Esha Gupta as a vengeful, vampy sister trying to get justice for her dead brother is embarrassing. She wears swimsuits inappropriate for the time period of the film, and thrusts her bosom at the camera, presumably to establish the shifty nature of her character.

For a film that was supposed to be about love, jealousy and revenge, Rustom has very little heart. Not worth your buck or time.

artslife@thenational.ae

Updated: August 13, 2016 04:00 AM

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