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Rustom  : Truth Told Tabloid Style
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Friday, August 12, 2016
Romance
Tinu Suresh Desai
Akshay Kumar, Ileana D’Cruz, Esha Gupta, Arjan Bajwa

With a disclaimer right at the beginning that this is a work of fiction, director Tinu Suresh Desai and writer Vipul K Rawal give themselves enough room to top up the sensational Nanavati murder case of the 60s with imaginative twists.

 

Decorated naval officer Commander Rustom Pavri has docked his ship earlier than expected. But when he finds that Cynthia, the wife he adores, is in a relationship with his friend and playboy Vikram Makhija, the Commander is in the dock for murder. He has put three shots into the chest of his wife’s lover.

 

It’s an open and shut case, says the smug Sindhi prosecutor.

 

On the other hand, the well-placed in the Parsee community decide that it has to be Parsee pride before all else; we have to put our full force behind our own Rustom Pavri. A tabloid owned by a Parsee plays its part and the blitzkrieg it leashes in edition after edition has its influence on the public and the jury. The tabloid, its unabashed headlines that make its sales go skyrocketing and the editor’s interjections in court are all cleverly used as comic relief.   

 

It begins as a crime of passion committed by a husband. But it’s leisurely unravelled that the sharp, suave businessman who’s now dead had been in bed with defence personnel, metaphorically speaking, and the rot goes right up to the top. It turns the Commander from a righteous husband to an upright Naval officer giving a different colour to the case.

 

Rustom has loose ends like the Naval officer striking a 5-crore rupee deal with the corrupt which is left hanging. The defence scandal doesn’t figure in the court case. And the film is far too long at 150 minutes.   

 

But a courtroom drama after a long time holds its own appeal. And the 60s atmosphere is far more vibrantly created than it was in last year’s Bombay Velvet. It also has a sophistication that will work with nostalgic Bombayites.

 

In its favour is a crisp-looking Akshay Kumar who doesn’t have much to do by way of performance but he does come off as clever and chivalrous in turns.

 

Ileana D’Cruz looks suitably waiflike and vulnerable enough to fall for a playboy’s charms. Arjan Bajwa as Vikram Makhija is presented like a rakish Hindi film villain. Esha Gupta as Preeti Makhija pouts, sneers and rampwalks instead of looking anything like a sister in mourning. Pavan Malhotra plays a good hand as investigating officer Vincent Lobo and Anang Desai as the judge adds to the mirth in the courtroom.

 

For a refreshingly told crime story, Rustom gets a 3* rating.

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author

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