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Last Updated 06.04.2020 | 8:52 PM IST
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Subhash K Jha speaks about Rowdy Rathore

Rowdy Rathore

Somewhere in the second-half of this frenetic action-comedy when the 'rowdy' Shiva takes the place of his lookalike slain cop in a mofussil town of Bihar, an engrossed member of the audience piped in to say, 'We don't need super-heroes who can fly in the air. We need them down here on this godforsaken earth to fight the scum of the earth."


Rowdy Rathore moves…no, races on the premise that heroes are made by circumstances, not design. That's how the street-smart Shiva ends up in a town run by garish goons, where homes, humans and hopes are burnt in effigies mocking human rights.


Rowdy Rathore is an old fashioned Good Versus Evil comedy-action-drama with paisa-vasool written in every frame. Prabhu Deva who earlier directed Salman Khan's cop-on-a-rampage saga Wanted puts Akshay on the same page. To his credit Akshay manages to create his own world in that Salman-space. Never letting go of that twinkle in his eye Akshay sinks his crooked teeth into the meaty double role with the warmth affection and relish of a dinner guest who knows all the yummy dishes on the table have been cooked only for him.


Akshay goes for the sumptuous meal with the hunger of a man who may not see tomorrow. It's high-octane performance full of warmth with and fury, never over-the-top even when all hell breaks loose. The fights are ferocious but never gut-churning. You can watch the bloodshed with the kids. They'd know, Uncle Akshay is going to win.


The thing about Rowdy Rathore is it never takes itself seriously. The cop and his double won't kow-tow to the powers-that-be. Ironically the film grandly bows its head to the Great Bollywood Formula. The dialogues are bombastic bordering on the corny nevertheless fun in their intended ideological inferences. A profound reverence for every trick in the book of filmic formulas sees the accelerated narration to its breathless finale. Even when the going gets gory there is a tongue-in-cheek humour in the violence.


It's not the arrogant aggression of Salman Khan in Dabangg or Wanted. In Rowdy Rathore Akshay creates a new language of heroic aggression. He is goofy, wonky, clumsy and oafish. He has no respect for the rules of the office. But his character loves doing what he does, because a man has got to do what he has to do, and really someone has to do the dirty job of cleaning up the mess we've created. Metal rods from rickety machines are wrenched out and used to teach the anti-socials a lesson. The ouch is never unwelcome. Akshay creates a 'no wince' situation.


Rowdy Rathore
Whether its wooing the girl from Patna Sonakshi Sinha (nice touch, that) all over the streets of Mumabai and right into a wedding venue, or in the second-half taking on the vile villainy of a self-appointed devta of diabolism named Baapji (Nasser) who is so uncouth unwashed and unmannered that he is downright funny in his obscene rowdyism, the heroic hijinks of Rathore and his bawdy-double celebrates the mayhem and machismo of the action genre without letting the gore become a bore.


The generous splash of colour and music (Sajid-Wajid at their peppy pinnacle) pitches the film at a massy level without toppling over into a revolting rowdyism.


Formulistic cinema has never been celebrated with more gusto. There are two heroes fighting the fiends. There's a little girl who wins over the children-hating rowdy-hero and soon has him eating out of her hands, literally. There are cops who watch impotently as anarchy reigns supreme and then clap lustfully when the cop-hero teaches the villains a lesson or two in social etiquettes.


Rumbustiously redefining rowdyism Rowdy Rathore revives the ear of Eastmancolour cinema in the 1960 and 70s when movies were crazily colourful and rollicking fun, when you knew the villains would get their cacophonic comeuppance because…well, there is the hero and this is a movie. And all's well in the world where the wicked are wished away by hectic heroism.


Pulling out all stops to give us a thaali with the full meal plus pickles, chutney and papad director Prabhu Deva succeeds in putting a dizzying spin into Akshay's double-role act. Twirling his moustache in Rajputana pride, romancing the spirited small-town chick or beating up 23 goons with one weapon (self-determination) Akshay Kumar delivers a performance that makes you want to jump out of your seat, clapping whistling and cheering in appreciation.


Superheroes, like I said earlier, don't need to fly across the air. They just need to come down to earth and give the common man a helping hand. While the fights are brilliantly conceived and executed, it's Akshay's courtship with Sonakshi that had me giggling nonstop. If he is outrageously coy in his wooing act Sonakshi Sinha gives him tit for tat, matching steps with her far more experienced co-star, never letting the age difference daunt her.


Rowdy Rathore
The rest of the cast only has to stand around to extol and cheer our down-to-earth super-hero cop as he goes about the business of vanquishing vileness. All the while, the narration never loses its tempo, warmth or humour. Sajid-Wajid's masala melodies confer a collage of colourful montages to the actioner, speed breaking the satirical sanguinary saga without allowing the breakneck narration to lose its momentum. The choreography ensures that the dances merge with seamless élan into the action.


Rowdy Rathore is quite a gravity-defying feat. It often finds the villains being hurled into the air. But the narration manages to keep its feet on the ground. Really, Akshay as the angry cop is more entertaining than intimidating. No one is allowed to mess with the cop and his streetwise doppelganger. Because if you 'angry' this Rowdy he might return in a sequel.


Which isn't such a daunting prospect. Better a hero with a weak command over the English than the other heroes who 'think' in English and speak their lines as though the words were written for them on a teleprinter. Rathore doesn't need prompting to need the right thing. He knows.


Three cheers for producer Sanjay Leela Bhansali for coming out of his comfort zone to celebrate the spirit of Hindi commercial cinema at its dizziest and craziest.

More Pages: Rowdy Rathore Box Office Collection , Rowdy Rathore Movie Review

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