When I saw the trailers for Rustom and Mohenjo Daro, my first thought was: which one am I going to watch first? In light of the saying, “Better late than never”, I finally got a chance to catch Rustom at the movies. Judging from past filmography (Special 26, A Wednesday) of ace director Neeraj Pandey, who has produced this venture, Rustom is an Akshay Kumar movie not to be missed.
Based on the K.M. Nanavati case from 1959, Rustom follows the story of Rustom Pavri (Akshay Kumar), a commanding naval officer in the Indian army accused of shooting and killing Vikram Makhija (Arjan Bajwa) after discovering his illicit relationship with his wife Cynthia (Ileana D’Cruz). What results is the thrill of discovering the facts and uncovering the mystery behind Rustom’s actions and his entanglements with naval politics.
As a drama-thriller, Rustom has many strengths to its credit, once of which is the excellent direction by Tinu Suresh Desai. In particular, the police investigation scenes with each of the involved individuals – cutting back and forth in one take between the witness and investigating officer – were filmed beautifully and creatively. Cinematography by Santosh Thundiyil also added to the film’s overall presentation, and the elegant long-shots of naval ships in the waters enhanced the 1950s vibe of this period flick.
It is of crucial importance that a crime-thriller have a solid storyline with unexpected plot twists and intriguing character development along the way. The plot thickens, making way for suspense throughout the film. Unfortunately, the songs feel unnecessary and detract from the pace of the story; the film could have been edited to be more succinct without picturizing all the romantic melodies. Despite the fact that Rustom revolves around criminal case proceedings, the newspaper drama and comedy interspersed during the courtroom scenes added light humor to an otherwise serious premise.
Coming to the performances, needless to say, Akshay Kumar fits the role of Rustom Pavri very well. Viewers see not the actor but a commanding naval officer grappling to uncover the boundaries between truth and deception, justice and injustice, and defending the country and saving his family. Ileana D’Cruz is an actress who selects somewhat unconventional roles in the film industry, and this time too she carries herself very well as the ideal wife of an elite naval officer. Her portrayal of Cynthia as (simultaneously) an independent sexually liberated woman and a lonely, remorseful wife embraces many facets of femininity and humanhood. Esha Gupta slays onscreen as Preeti Makhija, the victim’s rich and powerful sister willing to do anything to avenge the death of her brother.
Final Verdict: Rustom is an absolute must-watch if you enjoy crime-thrillers. Definitely not appropriate for children so leave the kids at home for this one. Though it’s a bit of a long movie, the court proceedings and consistent discovery of new facts and details keeps you on the edge of your seat.