Film Review: Rowdy Rathore

Directed by: Prabhudeva

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha

All pictures courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com

Akshay Kumar and I have a troubled history together. All was going well until 2009 and the London premiere for Chandni Chowk To China, my first ever red carpet premiere and I was on cloud 9. Till I saw the film – and came crashing down to earth. Fast forward to the release of Patiala House which coincided with my 100th film review – and once again. La Kumar did not deliver the goods, thus spoiling my landmark post. So when it came to Rowdy Rathore, my expectations could not have been lower – well, I actually wasn’t expecting anything except a wasted two hours and a couple of decent songs.

And that is a concise summary of Rowdy Rathore (RR). This film has a great deal going for it – the songs and the choreography are very good; worked on and executed to a high standard and justifying the ticket price. Similarly, the editing and cinematography are very good, providing RR with an appropriate look and feel as well as a few crazy shots in the action sequences. I also liked some of the darker aspects of the story – for instance, Shiva’s reluctant parenting or the lawlessness and brutality of a town far removed from the metros.

Image courtesy of: http://www.youtube.com

But sadly, in what is a cut and paste comment from most of my reviews, the script is a mess, trying to be part Singh Is Kinng, part Dabangg, part Singham. The trouble is all these films were very clear in their direction and more frugal in their approach with a less is more maxim – RR is all over the place and too excessive, which works on the odd occasion but generally fails to harness the momentum it creates. I also thought it was a lazier remake than most – whilst Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn made Chulbul Pandey and Bajirao Singham respectively their own, Akshay isn’t given the tools to become at one with the role – whilst Rathore is definitely the stronger and darker role, the script clumsily muddles through making each persona distinctive so that the second half after the flashback is rowdy for the wrong reasons.

Akshay Kumar doesn’t make things any better with his performance – his Shiva feels more like a reappropriated patriotic Punjabi that he plays every other film and though he does the masala scenes well, it does feel all too familiar and failed to win me over. I thought Akshay was better as Rathore and was actually challenged for the first time – for instance, the scene where Rathore confesses he is scared of being killed but does his job regardless or when one of his officers is stripped by the villain’s son – these are moments where RR relies on performance and whilst Akshay doesn’t hit the mark (intensity – what’s that then?), he does seem to suddenly show sparks of acting potential but then can’t power above the  limitations of the script as perhaps Ajay or Salman are able to do. Thankfully, Sonakshi fares better employing my beloved less is more maxim in a spirited performance that matches Akshay step for step but sadly, she is not given much to do. However, she still shows lots of promise and does herself no disservice here.

Sadly then, aside from the songs, RR really didn’t do it for me and is amongst the weaker contingent of Southern remakes that are currently in vogue. But RR also shows that simply remaking a hit film is not enough – it has to be made relevant to the audience watching it and then needs a great deal of refinement in the final product to make an entertaining film. I seem to be obsessed with the idea of editing but had I got my hands on RR, a good 40 minutes would be chopped off to make for a slicker and stronger film.

Despite my not liking it, I have to say RR is worth a one time watch, either in a packed cinema or with lots of people as it is not difficult to follow and probably elicits the intended rowdy response in that environment. I was lucky to have the cinema to myself and whilst I was distracted, I wasn’t fully involved as I was when I saw Don 2 in the same cinema on my own. Essentially, RR is a must for all Akshay fans and a maybe for the rest of us.

Meanwhile,  Akshay and I continue our tumultuous relationship – as I await his reinvention and reconciliation with me through his work, it seems he carries on oblivious to the potential he has – c’mon Akshay, if not for me, do it for the sake of the Punjabi brotherhood!

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