Movie review: RUSTOM-
by Hiba Usmani.
The key to a good movie, as well as everything else in life, is moderation. A movie that is too serious or too humorous or too ridiculous will leave audiences feeling jilted and unhinged from reality. The purpose of movies is to leave the audience relaxed and entertained, not overwhelmed and anxious. The rule of moderation clearly went over the head of the people behind the creation of Rustom.
Based on a real-life case about a sensational murder, Rustom doesn’t realise that spicing up an already spicy plot is recipe for a disaster.
Rustom Pavri (Akshay Kumar), an honourable officer of the Indian Navy shoots his friend Vikram (Arjan Bajwa) to death after discovering that his wife Cynthia (Ileana D’Cruz) had an affair with the rich businessman. He immediately surrenders himself to the police, but when the trial comes around, he pleads not guilty.
Similar to other law-enforcement movies, Rustom revolves round will-he or won’t-he puzzle. Vikram’s sister (Esha Gupta) was always aware of the affair, but didn’t think it was anything wrong. She doesn’t leave any stone unturned to prove Rustom guilty.
Rustom doesn’t play around: we are not bored by extensive scenes about how Rustom and Cynthia fall in love and how she eventually destroys the sanctity of their marriage. Rather, it jumps right into the crux of the movie with the events leading up to the murder so that the audience may enjoy watching the fallout rather than wait for the event they know is coming.
The movie is based on a real-life story that shook the country of India to its core. A decorated officer committing a crime, a sordid affair, and the involvement of influential parties with the case were enough reason to let the case grace headlines for weeks.
The case revolved around some of the most openly-flawed humans in existence: a soldier, trained to protect people, allowing his ego to overcome his sense of duty and dignity; a woman who in the attempt to gain some much-needed attention eventually destroying her marriage and family; and a womanizing man who will not even take into account the dignity and feelings of his own friend before committing a crime.
The real-life characters are three-dimensional, but the written ones are surely not. The film is quick to paint Cynthia as the villain in the story, completely ignoring how her lapse in judgement and weakness allowed her to make a mistake of a much lower calibre than the mistake made by her husband.
Rustom is painted as the undeniable hero, with his entry in the film positioning him as a man of honour, dignity, and patriotism.
How could one possibly convict such an upstanding man when his only crime was to rid the world of a greedy, corrupt, and undignified villain?
The movie’s inability to develop realistic characters is something that clearly affected the performances of the actors. Nevertheless, they do their best and Akshay Kumar shines the brightest. Despite being one of his underrated roles, Kumar proves once again (after Airlift) that he should not be confined to ‘Khiladi’ roles when his skills extend much further than that.
The only time the audience manages to connect with Rustom is when they see the pain and desolation in his eyes.
Like their characters, the other actors are one-dimensional and only just manage to muster some emotions and expressions.
The real case was fraught with tension: from the armed forces community siding with the killer to the Sindhi community siding with the victim to the general population tired with the special treatment influential people received, the case had the potential to bring the country into a full-fledged violent brawl. The movie, on the other hand, could barely create enough friction to frizz up hair on a humid day let alone electrify and intrigue an audience.
To summarise, this film is only for those die-hard Askhay Kumar fans who watch films solely to support their favourite actor than actually sit down and enjoy an interesting movie regardless. Considering the publicity behind it, the movie is sadly disappointing.