Monday, August 15, 2016


Once Upon A Time

The one good thing about Rustom is that Akshay Kumar is slowly moving towards playing more mature characters, and the chiseled dignity he brings to Rustom Pavri suits him, even if it means he wears a gleaming white uniform all the time—in jail too.

That’s about all—the rest of the film is a goofy version of the Nanavati case of 1959, which was played out in tawdry, tabloid-y melodrama, resulting in the abolishment of the jury system. Taking the core of the idea of a naval officer killing his wife’s lover, Desai throws sense and logic to the winds, concentrating instead on period details—how many Parsi garages must have been raided to get all those impeccable vintage cars! Still, he cannot get any degree of authenticity in the Parsi backdrop, or get actors to speak with the right accents.

What is vaguely disturbing is that even in 2016, the director cannot show a woman willingly having an affair. In the 1963 film Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke, based on the same case, the wife had her drink spiked; in Rustom, the wife Cynthia (Ileana D’Cruz) needs a convoluted build-up to fall into playboy Vikram Makhija’s (Arjan Bajwa) arms. She spends the rest of the film weeping and moaning with guilt.

Rustom Pavri shoots Vikram and calmly spends time in jail, reading and playing chess with the investing officer Vincent Lobo (Pavan Malhotra), while outside, the Parsi editor of  tabloid, Eruch Billimoria (Kumud Mishra, miscast) whips up support for a fellow Parsi and sells more papers.

The most superfluous character in the film is Vikram’s foxy sister Priti (Esha Gupta) unintentionally comic in her flapper wardrobe, long cigarette holder, red lips and moll-like demeanour.

Almost everybody in the film—except Rustom Pavri—is ridiculous in some way—either overacting, or overdressed.  The courtroom scenes with a comic prosecutor (Sachin Khedekar) and sneering judge (Anang Desai) are much too theatrical.

Desai adds another patriotic angle to the story, but at the core of the real case and this film, is the fact that people who flock outside the courtroom with pro-Pavri banners, think it is alright for man to kill a man who laid a hand on his ‘property’—in this instance, his wife—and that a cad like Vikram deserved to die. The morality remains warped—then and now.


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