Keeping in tune with the times, Prabhudeva takes a super hit South movie, Vikramarkudu
(Telugu), that has been remade in various languages (including a Bengali version named Bikram Singha: The Lion Is Back!), and presents it to Bollywood as Rowdy Rathore. With a few changes in sensibilities, of course, given the target audience. The movie also marks the return of Akshay Kumar as an action star, after all those comedies, and will go on to become a blockbuster (or so the trade gurus predict).
Rowdy Rathore is pure masala
fare - there is an honest cop, a sleazy dictatorial villain, a small-town curvy damsel with an electrifying (for the hero) waist, a child in distress, a town/village of oppressed inhabitants, a corrupt politician, bawdy songs, an underdog, and action sequences at regular intervals.
The story begins in Mumbai, where Shiva (Akshay Kumar) and his sidekick (Paresh Ganatra) lead a carefree life in a small hovel filled with acquisitions from their robberies. Shiva hates children (a precursor to the inevitable), and would rather have a hundred black cats cross his path.
Shiva bumps into Paro (Sonakshi Sinha), from Patna, who is in the city for a wedding. An unlikely (read unbelievable) romance blossoms, interspersed with songs like Chamak Challo Chel Chabeli and Chinta Ta Ta Chita Chita (Shiva has magic fingers, and when he beats a particular rhythm, on any surface, people lose their senses). He promises Paro to give up his career as a pickpocket and thief.
Just when Shiva and Paro are all set to get serious, he is saddled with a child. He does not know how to get rid of the little girl, who insists on calling him "Papa", and Paro, convinced that he has something to hide, dumps him and goes back to Patna. Shiva's life gets more complicated with time, and he eventually finds himself in Devgarh, ruled by the tyrannical Babji (Nasser). This is where Shiva has to put things right and solve the riddle that he has become the centre of.
To give Prabhudeva credit, not once does the story fail to hold your interest, even when it becomes predictable. To quote Vidya Balan in The Dirty Picture
, "entertainment, entertainment, entertainment" is what keeps the film alive.
There is never a dull moment, except when the comedy becomes too forced - "Don't angry me", the dialogue that is plastered on most posters of the movie, sounds outlandish, especially when Shiva speaks passable English otherwise; and Shiva's speechlessness whenever he sees Paro's waistline is overdone. The script flows smoothly otherwise, and never gets complicated.
The dialogues are certain to elicit hoots and whistles, as is the action. Shiva always does what he says he will, and definitely does everything that he does not
mention. Be prepared for some gore, though, even as Akshay Kumar cuts, stabs, shoots and kicks his way through the film.
This is Akshay Kumar's movie, make no mistake. He is present in almost every frame, and he shines, especially when he gets to perform his own stunts. The moustache makes him look older, but he has definitely become a better actor over the years. He manages to carry off both the comedy and the action, with supreme confidence.
Sonakshi Sinha does not have much to do in the movie, except portray a more aggressive version of her Dabangg
role. Paresh Ganatra as the sidekick is adequate. The surprise packages are Yashpal Sharma and Gurdeep Kohli, both in police uniforms.
Nasser is apt for the role of the mega villain, although he sounds a little strange mouthing Bhojpuri dialogues. He is intimidating and lecherous, and absolutely credible. Nasser and Mushtaq Khan, who plays the former's assistant, have a great chemistry, and provide some comic relief once in a while.
Niharika Khan's costumes are obviously inspired by the original movie, with some changes for the heroine, but the actors carry off the magentas and other bright colours with élan. While the cinematography is better than average, it is the production design (very generic) that is the silent hero in the movie. None of the sets look unreal, and the location of the climax, shot in a gorgeous ravine, is going to be imprinted in your minds for a while.
With the exception of one song, the music is raunchy and loud, and the album is already a bestseller.
Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn managed to set the box office on fire when they donned police uniforms in remakes of South Indian films (Dabangg and Singham
). Akshay Kumar will do the same. The Khiladi has finally returned, and if you are a fan of the garishly loud movies of the 1990s (without those strange hairdos and costumes), then you must check him out this weekend.