An air of unabashed, if generally harmless, imbecility pervades Rowdy Rathore. With very little substance to play around with, the film spreads itself dangerously thin. But even when it teeters on the brink of snapping point, it hurtles along like an armoured vehicle on four flat tyres. It makes much din but covers little ground.
Let?s hand it to director Prabhu Deva. He throws every trick that he knows in the book into this predictable remix of a Telugu hit ? song, dance, crass humour, romance, thunderous action and a fearless supercop out to outsmart a bunch of murderous marauders.
It?s the good old unstoppable all-or-nothing approach. Prabhu Deva obviously has no faith in any form of subtlety. He goes the whole hog and revels in unbridled excess every step of the way.
Actually, for a film of this kind, a cross between Dabangg and Singham with stray traces of Agneepath, over-the-top methods are par for the course. Some of them do pass muster.
Rowdy Rathore is a shrill action flick designed to help Akshay Kumar return to his hit-making ways. Accept that obvious intent and you might actually end up enjoying certain parts of the film against your own better counsel. Isn?t that the effect that many a Bollywood potboiler of the 1980s would have on us?
Yes, Rowdy Rathore employs narrative elements that hark back to a bygone era of Bollywood potboilers: two men who look like each other without any apparent reason, a bunch of baddies that snarl and snap at the slightest provocation and indulge in rape and pillage with abandon, and the good old back-from-the-dead revenge seeker who goes back dispensing rough-and-ready justice.
The only surprise that the film springs is in the opening credits: SLB, maker of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Devdas, is one of the producers of this no-holds-barred entertainer designed for easy mass consumption.
The first half of the film ambles through an hour and a bit of mostly insignificant narrative detail, including the circumstances in which the male protagonist, a small-time Mumbai conman Shiva (Akshay Kumar), meets and falls in love with Paro (Sonakshi Sinha), a pretty girl from Patna who is in town for a wedding.
It is only in the second half that Rowdy Rathore gets down to serious business as the action moves to a hamlet called Devgarh where a rural tyrant, Baapji (Tamil character actor Nasser), calls the shots. Cops shiver in front of him and his lecherous men, and a minister dances to his tune. The villagers are mere lambs to the slaughter.
Away from this hell-hole, Shiva is taken by surprise when a little girl mistakes him for her father. After with a life-threatening attack on him by a gang of goons, he decides to get to the bottom of things. He discovers that the girl?s father was actually a random doppelganger, a lookalike police officer who is eventually killed before the crook?s eyes by the rustic gang.
Shiva assumes the garb of the dead policeman, transforms into a violent rabble-rouser and goes all out to avenge the murder.
The film?s romantic track is mere window-dressing ? it offers the director a pretext to stage a couple of song and dance set pieces that only serve to slow down the film?s pace.
You know what is coming next ? the hero?s beloved and the dead cop?s daughter are abducted by the villains and the policeman who is masquerading as one takes the law into his own hands and sends the bad guys scurrying for cover.
The thing about a film like Rowdy Rathore is that it lets the viewer stay a step ahead of the action, which is a perfect recipe for an instant connect with the masses.
Riddled with an array of loud, lame and specious contrivances, Rowdy Rathore plays out pretty much like a comic-book fantasy rendered in the form of a live-action film. Go for it if you must, but don?t expect the earth from it.