STORY: 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. The Commander surrenders himself to the Police immediately and admits to have killed Vikram but pleads ‘not guilty’ in court. Is he convicted or acquitted?
Though the climax has been smartly fictionalised, this courtroom play is essentially based on the real life of Naval officer K M Nanavati, who in 1959, shot and killed his wife’s lover. The successive trial was one of India’s most thrilling court cases.
Coming to the film, Rustom has a cracker of a beginning. Without wasting any time, the director comes straight to the point. He takes us rapidly during the circumstances in which Rustom shoots Vikram and the trial begins.
Akshay Kumar is the strength of character of Rustom. The Khiladi renders one of the most understated performances of his career, proving yet again that he can play a range of unlike roles with aplomb. The plot is interesting if not engaging.
However, Rustom lacks the uncomforting tension exuded by well made courtroom dramas like A Few Good Men (1992). It is not the gripping thriller one expects it to be, given the contentious case it’s based on. It tries to unfold like a whodunnit, and falters in its implementation.
Tinu Suresh Desai’s melodramatic direction struggles to maintain momentum. It lacks subtlety and is reminiscent of a languid Television daily soap, replete with a jarring background score, cliched dialogues and mandatory close-up shots of every character at regular intervals. While Ileana is perfectly cast, Esha Gupta’s inappropriate outfits and over-the-top acting evokes laughter. Arjan Bajwa plays a rich Sindhi guy here, just the way he played a rich Parsi guy in Guru. The art direction is mediocre as well.
To cut to the chase, despite its multiple flaws, Rustom can be watched for Akshay Kumar, whose action/comic radiance often overshadows his acting prowess. He reminds you to value the honest officers who serve our country with dignity and valour. He makes you want to support the man who maybe did the right thing the wrong way.