With a disclaimer right at the beginning that this is
a work of fiction, director Tinu Suresh Desai and writer Vipul K Rawal give
themselves enough room to top up the sensational Nanavati murder case of the
60s with imaginative twists.
Decorated naval officer Commander Rustom Pavri has
docked his ship earlier than expected. But when he finds that Cynthia, the wife
he adores, is in a relationship with his friend and playboy Vikram Makhija, the
Commander is in the dock for murder. He has put three shots into the chest of
his wife’s lover.
It’s an open and shut case, says the smug Sindhi
On the other hand, the well-placed in the Parsee
community decide that it has to be Parsee pride before all else; we have to put
our full force behind our own Rustom Pavri. A tabloid owned by a Parsee plays
its part and the blitzkrieg it leashes in edition after edition has its
influence on the public and the jury. The tabloid, its unabashed headlines that
make its sales go skyrocketing and the editor’s interjections in court are all
cleverly used as comic relief.
It begins as a crime of passion committed by a
husband. But it’s leisurely unravelled that the sharp, suave businessman who’s
now dead had been in bed with defence personnel, metaphorically speaking, and
the rot goes right up to the top. It turns the Commander from a righteous
husband to an upright Naval officer giving a different colour to the case.
loose ends like the Naval officer striking a 5-crore rupee deal with the
corrupt which is left hanging. The defence scandal doesn’t figure in the court
case. And the film is far too long at 150 minutes.
But a courtroom drama after a long time holds its own
appeal. And the 60s atmosphere is far more vibrantly created than it was in
last year’s Bombay Velvet. It also
has a sophistication that will work with nostalgic Bombayites.
In its favour is a crisp-looking Akshay Kumar who
doesn’t have much to do by way of performance but he does come off as clever
and chivalrous in turns.
Ileana D’Cruz looks suitably waiflike and vulnerable
enough to fall for a playboy’s charms. Arjan Bajwa as Vikram Makhija is
presented like a rakish Hindi film villain. Esha Gupta as Preeti Makhija pouts,
sneers and rampwalks instead of looking anything like a sister in mourning.
Pavan Malhotra plays a good hand as investigating officer Vincent Lobo and
Anang Desai as the judge adds to the mirth in the courtroom.
For a refreshingly told crime story, Rustom gets a 3* rating.
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author