I can’t decide what I enjoyed more. Rowdy Rathore the film or the experience of watching it all! Let’s begin by talking about the film. Rowdy Rathore is all that Akshay Kumar has been itching to do. An actor who started off being the original ‘khiladi’ in the 90’s packed a formidable and commendable punch busting villains and dens, meandered into comedy somewhere. And really that tag remained with him for far too long. So while his contemporaries (read: Salman Khan, Ajay Devgn and now even Saif Ali Khan with Agent Vinod) have moved to hardcore dhishoom-dhishoom can Akshay be far behind?
Without giving away too much of the plot, let’s say we have seen parts of Rowdy Rathore before. In Singham, Dabangg and yes even in Prabhu Deva’s previous, Wanted. The premise of a country side gangster being bashed up by a fearless, irreverent cop / hero is not new, but Akshay brings in a sense of déjà vu in this one. The plot of the film and its execution fails at several places but the screenplay more or less makes up for it. The classic one-liners will live on, ‘Don’t angry me” for instance finds a place on the hand painted poster of the film which in itself is making a brilliant comeback into the industry. The first half of the film follows Shiva as he pursues his Paro (which I felt was reminiscent of Bhansali’s fixation for Devdas) and regales us with his mastered comic timing, and con man acts. It is however his brief second avatar Vikram Rathore with his moustache twirling, masala punches and no nonsense cop act that holds promise and the one that I preferred. The second half marries the two characters and we get what is a mish-mash of the two called ‘Rowdy Rathore’.
The rustic, ‘rowdy’ and loutish gangster is enough to make you fear him from your core. But then one cannot fail to notice our cinema’s love for the ultimate rural dakoo Gabbar Singh. Really, its time our story tellers move beyond the Sholay fixation and create another baddie that would make our children live in fear! The comparisons between Amjad Khan and Supreeth Reddy are too obvious so much so that the director’s portrayal of his villain as Devgarh’s Ravana among rocky cliffs and high stones is as ominous as Ramgarh’s antagonist. The action sequences are perfect, and carry the south brand of power packed punches, slow-moed for effect and style. The rural hinterland particularly Bihar with its rogue gangsters makes for a threatening location, and somewhere it is a welcome relief from the brand sporting, globe trotting characters and storylines.
The heroine, is well, trying to only be a heroine. Sonakshi looks pretty, and the buxom beauty from Patna has precious little to do than just flutter her made up eyes, flaunt her midriff, and though there are a few precious lines that she punches at the villain’s face at the climax, there is hardly anything new. Her character reminded me of Rajjo in Dabangg, but then that’s because she hardly does anything new. Sonakshi has pretty eyes, I wish she’d use them more except for frown and smile.
Sajid Wajid’s music is apt. Chinta-ta-ta is the new Dhinka Chika and the dances carry the Prabhu Deva style of dancing. Except of course for Chammak Challo that carries Bhansali’s taste and Saroj Khan’s signature.
The fault lines lie open too. For instance, the double role formula is hardly used as an advantage. In fact it is undermined quite like the Amitabh Bachchan – SRK versions of Don. But somewhere, in a masala fillum like this one, I wanted to see two Akshays pack some hardcore punches. The plot in itself is predictable and I wish there was a surprise somewhere. It’s interesting to note that while Sanjay Leela Bhansali the director / film maker is all about craft and intellect, he chose something as entertaining a potboiler as Rowdy Rathore for his production house. I find this schism between the director and producer in him as very, very interesting. Somewhere it goes on to show that every producer needs a certain kind of cinema to fuel the stories that he wants to make as a director.
I watched the film in a multiplex in a small town of India. And truly going by the colourful comments, whistles and loud cheers I knew Rowdy Rathore will be a blockbuster of a movie. Beside me was seated a middle aged man who was watching it for the second time on the first day of the show!! So there…in an age when blockbuster collections mean more, this tried and tested formula will get the moolah and filled theatres.