Rocky Handsome: desi Rambo ain’t cutting it

Okay, so firstly – I am an unabashed John Abraham droolie. Now that that’s out of the way, let me get down to taking this film apart frame by frame!

What was everybody on this film smoking?! Whatever it was, it filtered through to the audience via osmosis coz we were all pretty comatose throughout too! A friend put it succinctly when he asked: “Why do you go to see these Satara type Rambo films?” Problem is, he asked the question after!

In a nutshell, Handsome, urf Rocky, urf Kabir Ahlawat (John Abraham) is this silent, brooding type and is the owner of a pawn shop, of all things. Suddenly, enter a little kid Naomi (Diya Chalwad) who acts all proprietorial towards him, sharing his fish curry and taking over his bedroom,. In jerky scenes that are barely stitched together we learn that her mother Anna (Nathalia Kaur) who is Handsome’s neighbour, is a nightclub dancer and a drug addict. She steals two kilos of cocaine as easy-peasy as though it were cheeni from the nukkad kirana store, from two psycho brothers Kevin (Nishikant Kamat) and Luke, who in turn report to a dude called Mantu (no, not Montu, this phillum is set in Goa, not Punjab!) Obviously the psychotic brothers get after Anna which involves some gory use of a drill on her tender thigh (yuck) and equally obviously, the good neighbour Handsome gets involved – how else will the director keep up the pretence that he’s got a story going here?!

Now the Goa police (who’ve got Maharashtrian accents so thick you can cut through them with a knife) get in on the game and this brooding human wall in a perpetual black suit is stonewalling them – is he a good guy or a bad guy? All “files” (huh?!) on him seem to be blocked by some top secret code. One of the cops has an Eureka moment. Let’s get the White House involved, he says excitedly. We will send the American president a threatening email purportedly from Kabir Ahlawat and then the CIA can get on to the act and tell us Indians who this man is. Like – the White House? Like – seriously??

Anyhow, the CIA do apparently obligingly pass on the dope (pun intended!) Our Handsome is also known as Rocky and is a special, super-duper RAW agent – the real McCoy! Some bad guys killed his pregnant wife Rukshida (Shruti Hassan) and also shot him full of lead. Since then, Rocky has become this mean killer machine, taking no survivors. He is now after Mantu and the Mad Men coz they’ve got little Naomi who once painted a smiley face on his fingernail and he gets all mushy when he sees it. Lots and lots of blood and gore later with the smiley still miraculously intact, Rocky does indeed manage to rescue her – and then he gets hauled off to jail! Erm. Ain’t he supposed to be the big daddy of all cops – RAW agent and alla that??

What can I say about a movie where the best thing about it is the background music score?! ‘Rocky Handsome’ is full of tired cliches. Startlingly, there is this eerie, mournful, female voice going “aaaahhhh” in the background and you just know that Rocky is gonna find Anna’s dead body when he looks into the car dicky. One of the sidekicks is called ‘Football;’ I thought weird names for the baddies went out with ‘Loin.’ The Goa police make it a point of landing up only to clean up Rocky’s mess and do the dead body count; the entire “action” scene to catch Football in the nightclub was such a sham with stereotyped overweight cops. Luke is a caricature of a psycho; Kevin’s character has been given more attention, not hardly surprising when you consider the role has been essayed by the film’s director himself!Rocky stoically keeps up with his zombie act through most of the movie, only to bestir himself with futile car chases after the bad guys – on foot! Dude, even I coulda told you that’d be pointless. Face-off between police agencies over Rocky/Mantu – this one is straight out of ‘Main Hoon Charles.’ Speaking of which, Rocky does not seem inclined to co-operate with the cops and it is never explained to us why.

Right off, slap bang at the beginning of the movie, you’ve got a song. Who does that anymore – even though Handsome’s shirt is matching the lovely, clear aquamarine sea of the Seychelles hue-ba-hue (sic!) Who still has the ‘vamp’ singing in a nightclub? An entire song has been dedicated to these firang floozies picked up as extras who can’t even pout prettily, while one of Kevin’s henchmen Attila (Kazu Patrick Tang) is supposed to be Thai and has the requisite south-east Asian features. Oh – and it’s not just about cocaine and heroin anymore. Now we’ve got the organ element bunged in too – selling kidneys. Why only kidneys – skin, spleen, corneas, anything and everything!

The movie is obviously inspired big-time by Stallone’s Rambo and works on the basic premise that “actions speak louder than words.” Notwithstanding those lovely, rippling abs and pecs that are a sight for sore eyes, John truly does behave like a wooden log through most of this movie; hey, dancing dimples, quirky humour, innocent cherub, sex on legs – can do. Don’t ask JA to emote, for Chrissake! Besides, this whole ‘Handsome’ deal was getting to me; what’s with a silly name like that for a hunk like this? It must be said that he is in superb physical shape and there are some truly terrific action scenes – this is a John Abraham seen like never before. Shruti Hassan in a blink-and-miss it role looks so much like her mother Sarika that it’s uncanny. Except for making bedroom eyes at JA – and who can fault her for that?! – I can’t recall a single word of dialogue she uttered. Sharad Kelkar as a Goa cop badly needs some acting lessons. Diya Chalwad frankly is not the cute kid next door, apart from which she has hammed some of the scenes which, to be fair, could be the result of the heavy and unnatural dialogues she was given.

Just because ‘Cheeni Kum’ and, more recently, ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ rode their way to success on little kids’ shoulders, director Nishikant Kamat seems to have thought he could pull off the same stunt (sic!) here too and let’s not waste time on story-shory. Or even on continuity – now you see ‘em, now you don’t; sometimes Chalwad has a couple of teeth missing and sometimes she doesn’t!

It seems Kamat was more bent upon making his acting debut than being captain of the ship and holding all the various departments together. A director can never afford to lose his focus for even a moment; playing a double role is something only veterans can gamble with. Cinematography by Shanker Raman is lacklustre. Editing by Aarif Shaikh is splotchy to which an incomplete story has contributed enormously – those flashback scenes are a nightmare to keep up with. The music is by Sunny Bawra, Inder Bawra, Ankit Tiwari and Bombay Rockers while the lyrics are by Kumaar, Manoj Muntashir, Abhendra Kumar Upadhyay, Sachin Pathak, Sagar Lahauri and Shekhar Astitwa – yawn.

I want to know what happened to the story (Ritesh Shah) especially as the team acknowledge that the movie is loosely based on the Korean film ‘The Man From Nowhere’ – how hard can it be to adapt from a storyline that already exists?? There really is no excuse for a writer to come up with such a weak,cliched screenplay. I am equally surprised how John Abraham, who has shown some savvy business sense with his production house, signed on for a bunkum script like this; one can only conclude it was the action scenes that got him all fired up.

Right, I’m off now to buy me some of that nail polish that doesn’t seem to chip even after a whole movie of bashing the bad boys!

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