(Published in The New Sunday Express on June 3, 2012, retrieved from http://newindianexpress.com/entertainment/reviews/article534171.ece)
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Nasser
Director: Prabhu Deva
Rating: 1 star
Rowdy Rathore opens to a little girl sulking on a hospital bench as a pre-pubescent voice trills a lullaby. A woman in doctor’s coat asks the kid whose voice it is, and the kid says mournfully, “Meri mummy.” The doctor asks where Mummy is, and the kid lisps, “meri ma mar gayi.” That’s the last we’ll see of the girl till she inexplicably winds up in someone’s trunk and jumps out, saying “Papa!” to the first man who opens it. Not the brightest crayon in the box, this kid.
Before we find out, though, we must meet Shiva (Akshay Kumar), conman, thief and apparently cop. As cop, though, he goes by ‘Vikram Rathore’, and strikes terror in the likes of Nasser, who plays a villain with a generic name. Before we find that out, we must meet Paro (Sonakshi Sinha), who makes her appearance to the tune of Cheena Thana Doi. Shiva’s fond of playing a ‘rewind’ button in his head, to watch her walk past. Yeah, that happens a lot in Mumbai – strangers cross paths repeatedly.
Then, we break into song – that happens a lot in this film. A body-twisting Prabhu Deva, a shirt-biting Vijay, and a fattening Kareena make guest appearances in the first song, which ends with Akshay Kumar going, “aiyayo! Superstar Vijay!” and Prabhu Deva going, “Vaanga, vaanga, eppadi irukkeenga?” By now, I’m wondering whether I’m on drugs, or the cast and crew are. Then someone yells “appadi podu!” and we’re catapulted into Shiva’s attempts to woo Paro.
See, she loves him though he’s a thief, because he’s honest about being dishonest. And she loves him though he wonders why God makes kids, and steals the clothes of gully cricketers because they break his window by accident. What she can’t deal with is a kid landing up at his place and calling him Daddy. As his sidekick says, “kaun jaanta hai ki tum kahaan kahaan account khol ke rakhkha hai?”
En route to everything getting sorted out, we Tamilians will recognise a bunch of lines, starting with “Don’t angry me!” Then comes, “Jo main bolta hoon, woh main karta hoon”, followed by its corollary, “Jo main nahi bolta hoon, woh main definitely karta hoon”. For good measure, there’s “naam sunne pe bhookamp aata hai, na?” And just to be original, there’s, “Are you comedying me?”
I’m not sure what the most pathetic aspect of this film is – the godawful graphics, the mood music that introduces us to the tokenlangda, the wronged cop, the kidnapped wife, and the good father who succumbs to what the doctor terms “brain hammerage”, the bunch of ninjas that show up as Shiva blends into Vikram Rathore, the nods to Bollywood biggies, the recalls to the Tamil film industry of the 1980s (complete with the giant from Guru Sishya), or this dud role that Nasser, who’s a veteran of so many menacing villainous characters, is reduced to. I mean, a paan-chewing goonda whose son likes assaulting the modesty of cops?!
The Verdict: There’s nothing to be said for Rowdy Rathore. For the first time in an Akshay Kumar film, I found even the fight sequences boring.