Rowdy Rathore is the kind of movie that’s made by people with a cash register in place of their brain. Because no legitimate reason, other than financial gain, can justify why this movie was made – it has no story or plot whatsoever, the characters are entirely forgettable, and it’s so long and loud and silly that the laughs dry up early on. That the film has such impressive pedigree – it’s produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, directed by Prabhudeva, and stars Akshay Kumar – is both baffling and shameful.
The premise is a familiar one: a small-time crook, Shiva (Akshay Kumar), feels obliged to step into the shoes of his doppelganger, a lookalike cop named Vikram Rathore, when the fearless officer dies trying to rescue a village from its despotic gang-lord.
Remade from a super-hit Telugu film, but with no attempt to tailor its aesthetics or its sensibility for a new audience, Rowdy Rathore is packed with brutal action scenes shot in slo-mo, low-brow humor, and regressive drama. The problem isn’t that the film is merely mindless, but that it revels in making you squirm uncomfortably. In one scene, after his wife has been kidnapped and raped by the villain’s son, a helpless police officer accompanied by his little kids begs for her release, only to watch the rapist tell his father that he isn’t done with the woman yet, and will return her to her husband in two days.
The heroine, and Shiva’s love interest, a buxom Sonakshi Sinha, seems to exist in this film only to have her midriff repeatedly pinched by Akshay Kumar, and he refers to her on at least three occasions as “mera maal”.
At 2 hours and 20 minutes, Rowdy Rathore is excruciatingly long. The one-liners have little impact and make no sense, and the action has a been-there-seen-that feel to it. A few jokes work because Akshay Kumar does goofy well, but this film doesn’t have half the energy of Prabhudeva’s last directorial outing in Hindi, the Salman Khan starrer Wanted.
Aside from a few moments of inspired lunacy from the film’s leading man – who can do this part in his sleep (and probably did!) – Rowdy Rathore comes off as nothing more than a cheap attempt to rob moviegoers of their money! I’d have bet Sanjay Leela Bhansali has no idea what he’s produced, except that the film’s outtakes reveal that he did in fact visit the set, and hence more than likely knew exactly what film he was making!
I’m going with a generous one out of five for Rowdy Rathore. Surely there’s a better way to spend a lazy weekend!