Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Nasser
Storyline: A compulsive thief takes the place of a cop to avenge his doppelganger
Bottomline: Laugh at it a little, laugh with it a little but the Rowdy has the last laugh
It’s as rowdy as it gets in Bollywood in this faithful remake of the Telugu film Vikramakudu (Siruthai in Tamil) where Akshay gets his licence to misbehave, fool around and have some fun, pretty much like Salman Khan did in Wanted or Ajay Devgn did in Singham.
To be fair, Prabhudeva does treat it like a comic book to make the implausible seem all the more larger than life. It’s the kind of a film where the man and the girl fall in love at first sight. So what if he’s a thief, he’s honest enough to tell her he’s one.
This action entertainer is the gratification of every male fantasy – where the hero gets to channel his inner Shakti Kapoor than the well-behaved Amol Palekar. Rowdy Rathore is unabashedly male escapist entertainment that reinforces the age-old belief in Indian cinema that the hero is a God and the villains who harass the innocent are the modern day manifestations of ‘asuras’.
Only that the hero though called Shiva is more Krishna is his traits: mischief, flirtation and smarts.
The revelry in the film works best when Akshay has to play the over-the-top Rowdy in purple pants. It’s the sentimental scenes that really stick out like a sore thumb in this longish, disjointed narrative that has many random sequences thrown in, especially in the second half, with blatant disregard for logic or continuity. Equally random are the song placements or the excuses for them to unfold.
Rowdy Rathore plays out like a spoof for most of its running time and those are the fun bits. The length and the melodrama, especially indulgent shots of obnoxious caricatures for villains makes you feel like you’ve been at the receiving end of Shiva’s ‘Chinta Ta Ta’ drill… You will figure out what that means the hard way when you watch the film.
The film wears the kitsch-as-entertainment badge on its heart to unleash the cheesiest, corniest and campiest of cliches. And this celebration of non-stop nonsense is somewhat watchable only because Akshay Kumar makes for a rambunctious Rowdy. Now, if only he didn’t take playing the cop all that seriously.
While people used to the masala movies of Vijay (he also makes a cameo appearance in a song) or any of the action heroes down South may not find anything new in the plot or the treatment, the audience that celebrated the other Hindi remakes of South Indian films may just enjoy this pretty much the same way people in the West enjoy Hindi cinema. As a colourful, riotous, musical you are actually laughing at more often than with but don’t mind only because you are getting entertained by the ridiculousness of it all.
Just like Hollywood seems to embrace Bollywood for colour, Bollywood seems to be embracing the South for spice. And kitsch.
(This review originally appeared here.)