Prabhu Deva tends to direct a film pretty much like he choreographs a song. He packs both, from end to end, with a frenzied flurry of brisk hand and feet movements and a surfeit of high-decibel musical clatter.
The astoundingly lithe dance steps that he conjures up tend to flummox the eyes; the attendant sounds unleash a non-stop assault on the eardrums. The two together (and singly as well), have clearly outlived their utility.
R… Rajkumar is incontrovertible proof that Prabhu Dheva has been hit by the law of diminishing returns.
A violent action film that has been designed to give Shahid Kapoor a tough-guy makeover, R… Rajkumar is weighed down by just the kind of music-and-machismo formula that worked for Wanted and Rowdy Rathore, but has now lost its edge.
The lead actor here possesses neither the in-your-face insouciance of Salman Khan nor the earthy swagger of Akshay Kumar. He labours very hard indeed to fit the bill. The effort shows to such an extent that his one-man demolition squad act never manages to break free and acquire a life of its own.
Saddled with a scratchy screenplay that goes round in circles, Shahid Kapoor ends up looking more moronic than macho.
He is cast as a young man, the Romeo Rajkumar of the title, who kicks up a lot of meaningless heat and dust no matter what he is up to, be it pyaar-pyaar or maar-maar, the two things that, in his words, define his life.
The cinematic vehicle that he rides is cast in the mould of just another typical Prabhu Dheva musical set piece: an exercise replete with flashy, overly high-spirited bodily sleights and disorienting dissonance that, in the end, adds up to no more than a slapdash effort that is aimed solely at pleasing the masses.
Does R… Rajkumar achieve its avowed end? Depends entirely on what one expects from a mass entertainer.
From this critic’s point of view, watching this film is like being trapped, for all of two-and-a-half excruciating hours, in a torture chamber with no escape channel in sight.
It is a dreadfully painful and numbingly grotesque drama that could put one off Bollywood action flicks for a while.
The screenplay, whatever little there is of it, is mangled heap of nonsense. Logic and good taste are given a wide berth all the way through. The film also takes limp shots at raising some laughs by way of the rustic villain’s attempts to learn Queen’s English and pick up ‘modern’ ways.
The success of an action film hinges to a large extent on the how well the male protagonist is etched out and how emotionally pressing his cause is.
Romeo Rajkumar has no coherent back story. He appears from nowhere and begins to mess with two rival opium growers in a village called Dhartipur. He joins the gang of one of the two baddies, Shivraj (Sonu Sood), and falls in love with the comely niece of the other, Parmar (Ashish Vidyarthi).
Romeo Rajkumar sings, dances and fights his way through all the mayhem that ensues. The drama all ends in a bizarre, overlong climax that is as mindless as the rest of the film.
The song-and-dance routines are tiresome, and so are the over-the-top action sequences in which stuntmen of all shapes and sizes either stand by and scurry about waiting dutifully to be beaten to pulp by the hero.
The action director is particularly fond of having ply board tables and beer bottles smashed on human heads. Worst of all is the charaterisation of the sketchily defined heroine, Chanda (Sonakshi Sinha), who is treated by the men around her like a piece of worthless chattel.
The hero keeps making passes at her until she gives in to his amorous advances. The villain, too, covets her. And her evil uncle pushes her around. A helpless pawn in a male world, she grins and bears it.
Sonakshi Sinha plays the poor little rich girl with all the conviction at her command.
Truth be told, she is about the only bright spot in this distressingly dismal film, but nothing that the lady is allowed to do is good enough to prevent R… Rajkumar from disintegrating into the massive mess that it turns out to be.
The hero calls his lady love Lollypop. But expect no sweet delights. For the film, on its part, is pure poppycock. The only place that it should be heading to is the cleaners.