After a short sabbatical, superstar Dr Shivarajkumar is back in a "mass" role as a cop. The audience has always loved Shivanna more as an upright, merciless cop than a machete-wielding underworld don, especially after delivering hits like Killing Veerappan, Mufti and Tagaru. With Rustum, Shivanna has gone one step ahead to entertain the audience in multiple avatars.
Always known for sporting clean-shaven looks, in Rustum, he gets a sharp moustache just like his father, the legendary thespian late Dr Rajkumar, and this reminds us a lot of the matinee idol in a few frames. There’s plenty of action, sentiment, a small layer of friendship, revenge and drama. Along the way, there’s plenty of machismo on display.
The movie opens with the murder of an IAS officer. Just as the officer’s parents look up and demand justice from God, Abhi (Shivarajkumar) and his family arrive in Bengaluru. Abhi, his wife Anju (Shraddha Srinath), sister Ammu (Mayuri Kyatari) and his school-going daughter, are a typical middle class family. All is well until Ammu gets kidnapped one day. Worried, Abhi goes from pillar-to-post in police stations for justice. But, as powerful people are involved, Abhi finds himself targeted instead. But is Abhi who he says he is?
Any film in which a mass hero is a mouse in the early portions will necessarily feature a flashback depicting him as a tiger. Rustum follows the same formula. The story line is predictable and what lets the film down are the dialogues borrowed and translated from several other films.
The mass hero’s entry scene is the most sought-after in any film and it sets the tone for what is to follow. But in Rustum. Shivanna has a very simple entry scene – he merely gets down from a train. To make up for this simple entry, the director has made sure that the hero gets several back-up entry scenes – like during the fight inside the prison or Shivanna in cop attire for the first time.
The first half is slow-paced, but post intermission, the narrative picks up. However, the second half reminds the audience of too many other cop movies, making it quite predictable. The filmmaker’s effort to insert comedy into the screenplay unnecessarily goes in vain. Shivaraj KR Pete is wasted. There's only a minute or two of comedy in the film but even this is unbearable.
The film has an ensemble cast. While Shivanna is the perfect choice for the role, and pulls off the cop with ease, the director’s attempt to make him look like an angry young man could have been more subtle. Nevertheless, Shivanna wielding the machete still gets a roaring response from the audience.
Vivek Oberoi as a cop gets his own ‘Dabbang’ moments. The actor has dubbed for himself and has got his Kannada diction right in almost all the scenes. Rachita Ram as Oberoi’s wife Rachhu plays a small role. Shraddha and Mayuri too have negligible roles, except that Shraddha gets to dance for a duet with Shivanna. Villains J Mahendran, Harish Uthaman and Arjun Gowda have been given challenging roles and they have all excelled at the job, especially Harish.
Anoop Seelin’s background music is just okay. The theme music seems to have been inspired from the Tamil flick Theri. Sakshi Chowdari’s item number is unnecesary and the duet song "You Are My Police Baby" makes for a visual treat but isn't easy on the ears. Cinematographer Mahen Simmha scores with unique camera angles and some classic time-lapse shots of Bengaluru and Bihar.
Stunt master Ravi Varma has chosen a safe subject for his debut as director, but he could have at least chosen to tell the predictable story differently. All said and done, Shivanna fans are likely to be pleased by the effort.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.