While Rustom was undoubtedly the more anticipated of the two releases to hit theatres this Friday, 12 August, reviews suggest that it certainly won't come off well — in terms of quality — against Mohenjo Daro (the Hrithik Roshan film has been praised by early reviews for its action sequences, cinematography and leading man's performance).
Most reviewers have been fairly critical of not just Rustom's plot and execution, but also its performances.
"Unabashedly tacky and unintentionally hilarious, though it does have its moments"
This is what Scroll's Nandini Ramnath has to say. She adds:
"Rustom’s recreation of an iconic trial echoes the narrative style of the lesser films of the period in which the actual crime occurred — it throws out the facts in favour of a simplistic and crowd-pleasing solution, glosses over its hero’s criminal behaviour, and paints its characters in black and white."
And of the performances, Ramnath is as scathing:
"Ileana D’Cruz’s constant sniffling competes with Esha Gupta’s pantomime pouting in providing unintended giggles, while Akshay Kumar doesn’t even make an effort to play a convincing upper-crust Parsi."
"An intriguing courtroom drama"
Rohit Vats, from Hindustan Times, seems to be in a more charitable mood. Giving Rustom a rating of 3/5, Vats points out what he enjoyed in the movie: "It’s a juicy retro story given more panache with a voiceover by Manoj Bajpayee, who introduces us to Mumbai’s Queen’s Necklace in sepia."
Unlike Ramnath, Vats also finds plenty to praise in Kumar's performance:
"Akshay Kumar is playing to the gallery here. But, he gives a fine touch to Rustom Pavri. More on the lines of Special 26 than Airlift or Baby, Kumar tones it down to suit the character. Sharp, deceptive and likeable. Most of the scenes are planned around him at the helm, and it’s a wise move, for he knows how to keep the tempo."
But, it is the courtroom scenes that hold the most weight for Vats, although he admits: "Lousy special effects and the language of certain characters are a few things that warp the authentic feel of the movie."
"Neither dhansak nor biryani"
That is the rather innovative spin critic Khalid Mohamed has to offer in his review of Rustom. Mohamed feels the film has its intriguing moments, but the second half — is a drag. He writes:
"Neither a biopic nor a convincing thriller, sorry to say, here’s a disappointment. Sure, the first half does yield some stray engrossing moments, but that’s about it. Intermission done, and you’re trapped in an unintentionally tedious courtroom fest where the judge is as confused as the viewer, yelling out, 'Order! Order!'"
"An accidental parody of itself"
Raja Sen on Rediff.com offers a hilarious take on Rustom. The website also gives it a rating of 1/5 stars.
While the review deserves to be read in its entirety, here is Sen's super summing up:
"The Nanavati Murder Case — one where public opinion lionised the naval officer to such a degree that its Not Guilty verdict marked the end of the jury system in India — was a landmark.
It was a case where the tabloid Blitz successfully manipulated an eager, righteous audience, and a case where enterprising street-side peddlers sold toy guns by calling them Nanavati Revolvers.
It is a case, in short, that deserves good cinema. Cinema that, like any intelligent murderer, understands that it is indeed all in the details.
For half a minute, a highly distinguished Parsi gent shows up and immediately classes up this film, but that's about all. Despite Kumar's valiant (albeit overdressed) attempt at calm and gravitas, this film is bilge, unintentionally hilarious and eventually tedious.
The only way to salvage it would be to add a too-loud laugh track, give Gupta a trampoline, and call it Carry On Rustom."