While Akshay Kumar starrer Rustom is making headlines for its successful box office collections, a meme around the discrepancies in the navy costume that Akshay wears, has been doing the rounds.
He's no stranger to conflict of accuracy, given his earlier release Airlift was also criticised for not capturing what actually happened during the Gulf War.
Costume designer Ameira Punvani’s explanation for the inaccuracy in Rustom is that it is a fictionalised account of events. She has said in interviews that she needed to show Naval Commander Rustom Pavri (Akshay Kumar) as a heavy weight, a decorated officer and so she festooned him with medals.
Because subtlety is not the tongue the movie speaks. And whom could the makers turn to for researched, period appropriate costumes? Bhanu Athaiya? Niharika Bhasin? Arjun Bhasin?
Journalist Sandeep Unnithan pointed out the erroes in the medals and details of the Indian Naval uniform in the widely shared social media post.
A Captain in the Navy confirms this, saying, “The Nelson Ring (a symbol inherited as a Common Wealth armed force) on the epaulets is facing the wrong direction. Two of the medals are from the Kargil War (which took place in 1999 while the movie is set in 1959).”
Then there is the Silver Jubilee medal introduced by the Army in 1971 to celebrate India turning 25. Not to forget the nine-years service medal and the 20-years service medal, all introduced by the Armed Forces in 1972. Then there is the matter if the moustache. “Until 1971, you were not allowed to grow one without a beard,” he says.
So it was either the full set, or clean shaven. Uh-oh.
An Army officer is thanked at the start of the movie, but his inputs are invisible. Be it the changing size and type of ship the INS Mysore (from a cruiser to a destroyer), or the Mercedes Pagoda Cynthia Pavri (Ileana D’Cruz) drives — the car came into production only in 1963.
These "liberties" go on to the costumes. They’re Parsi, it’s the 50s, let’s put them all in pearls! Even if it is the unmistakable double-pearl Dior Tribales earrings introduced in 2013 by Christian Dior. Then there is the verbosity of Cynthia’s wardrobe — this was a time when clothes were tailored. Purple Pussycat, arguably Mumbai’s first fashion boutique, was not yet a hoarding on Colaba Causeway. Cynthia’s wardrobe would not have so many options, would not be as daring and certainly contain fewer ball gowns.
She’s there to look pretty. We get it. And juxtaposed against her pastel innocence is the sartorial vileness and villainy of Preeti Makhija (Esha Gupta), the likes of which have not been seen since the last Sooraj Bharjatiya opus.
You know, tiny clothes indicative of the woman with malleable morals. As imagined by your neighbourhood friendly patriarchy. Those crochet cut-outs, that constant framing of the bosom, the tattooed scarlet lips reduced Preeti into a sexual fetish.
There is no chance that you’d see her as a grieving sister or a businesswoman in an era where women were only nurses, secretaries or receptionists. No siree. Rustom is fiction, remember? Not a cinematic art form.