R…Rajkumar: A…Aspirin, please!

Hmmm. Well, if nothing else, one has gotta applaud the sheer gumption and derring-do in calling a film a fantastical ‘Rajkumar’ in these times where the movie title is either as long as the storyline or else has a couple of English words bunged in it to make it ‘multicultural!’ In tacking on an optimistic ‘Romeo’ as well one gets the message that the director, none other than the erstwhile Boneless Wonder, Prabhudeva, believes in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy too!

Romeo Rajkumar (Shahid Kapoor) joins the gang of drug lord Shivraj (Sonu Sood.) Predictably, he falls in love with Chanda (Sonakshi Sinha) urf Lollipop (go figure!) who is predictably the niece of Shivraj’s sworn enemy, Manic, sorry, Manik Parmar (Ashish Vidyarthi.) Equally predictably, Shivraj also falls in love with Chanda. So then the story runs away with some goonda dishum dishum and gaalis galore and loverly billing and cooing. Ahh, but what everybody don’t’s knows is that Rajkumar has heavyweight don Ajit Taaka (Srihari) behind him and, with this, the long-forgotten drug angle suddenly crops up again in the movie. But what Rajkumar don’ts knows is that peoples are playing dirty, so Shivraj, Manik and Takaa team up and literally stab him in the back so Takaa can get his afeem, Shivraj can get his girl and Manik can just sit down and mop his brow. You think something piddly like that is gonna stop Rajkumar? Hell, naah. Our Romeo is made of sterner stuff; he returns from the grave, the movie then proceeds to indulge in some absolutely senseless goon bashing which is just an extended sado-masochistic exercise for the audience and RR gets to marry his Lollipop on Dussehra day just as he’d sworn.

It’s a South Indian production so all the lurid colours of the spectrum are present in glorious in-your-face technicolour! I’m sorry to use a cliché here but the Southies really do believe the ‘Northies’ use a pinch of garam masala to flavour all their food and so, much in that manner, this Hindi movie from a South stable has every possible masala ingredient – foreign location; bad don; a lil bit of UP bhaiyyagiri; hero in dirty jeans with unshaven face; heroine spouting swear words; hero pawing the ground like El Toro before bashing the baddies single-handed; gymnastics that pass for dance moves; lewd lyrics…you name it, RR’s got it!

Much in the nostalgic manner of the ‘Himmatwaala’ and ‘Tohfa’ era we have a buxom heroine too! Sonakshi has back-to-back releases; while she sleepwalked through ‘Bullet Raja’ last week, she has thankfully been resuscitated in ‘Rajkumar’ and displays the spunk of ‘Dabangg.’ I’ll say one thing in her favour though – it is refreshing to see a heroine so remarkably unselfconscious of her looks particularly during the song ‘n’ dance routines. Rather than be perfectly made up with every curl of hair accounted for, Sonakshi’s tresses fly thither and yon much as they would were you or I to attempt these steps, and she pouts and frowns with abandon. Her attempt at pulling off daddy Shatrughan Sinha’s trademark dialogue, “khamosh!” fell flat among the other falling bodies in the scene. Sonu Sood was a disappointment in this movie, leading me to believe he is a director’s actor i.e. as proficient as the director he gets. He has been capable of a good body of work earlier, notwithstanding the body of carefully built up six packs, but in this film, in spite of having an almost parallel role to the hero, he flounders. Ashish Vidyarthi is an extremely adept actor and it was sad to see him playing the caricature of one, besides, he’s massively overweight. Okay, Asrani’s gotta grow up now and stop with the overt screeching. I gather Srihari has won some awards in Tollywood but in ‘Rajkumar’ he just played a stereotyped Southie baddie with overstated flamboyance. Mukul Dev looks good, in fact, very good, so long as he doesn’t open his mouth; he’s clearly model and not actor material! I’m not going to waste word space on the three ladies who did all those orgasmic heaves in the two item numbers.

Shahid Kapur is just too much of a naughty, cutie softie to be able to carry off a dialogue like, “silent ho jaa varna main violent ho jaaunga.” And not for him the unshaven, unkempt cowboy look either. Uh huh. The boy is beginning to worry me, though. The twinkle and spark in his eyes of the ‘Ishq-Vishq’ and ‘Jab We Met’ days is missing and has been so for a long time. He performs his role competently but that’s about it. He isn’t getting “into” the character anymore.

Ballu Saluja – editing and Mohana Krishna – photography. Absolutely nothing to write home about. Story and direction, Prabhudeva – ‘nuff said! Dialogues by Shiraz Ahmed – well, when you consider that there is a poem dedicated to “bullshit” you begin to get an idea of the crappy inputs here.  It’s absolutely disgraceful that, with a fluid dancer like Shahid and a mindboggling dancer and choreographer like Prabhudeva, the latter should have reduced the steps to some contortionist moves with precious little in the way of “dance!” What a jarring cacophony in the name of music – Pritam!! As for the lyricists, both of them should commit hara-kiri already. The background score IS surprisingly catchy – Sandeep Chowta, good job.

Err, one question. Was this film meant for a Dussehra release?! I only ask coz of the whole build-up of the wedding drama around the festival. If so, it’s missed its mark by a goodly bit.

*This review is written exclusively for The Film Writers Association of India.

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