There’s nothing very special in above-stated report, until, this story referred to us as the famous Nanavati case, which stirred the nation in the period of sixty’s India.
Naval Commander Kawas Manekshaw Nanavati, surrendered himself after shot dead his wife’s paramour Prem Ahuja. Commander Nanavati was accused under section 302 of Indian penal code, initially declared not guilty by a clear 8-1 vote of jury’s diction but the verdict was dismissed by Bombay (then Bombay, now Mumbai) High Court and the case re-opened. Nanavati punished by court for, but after three years of imprisonment Prem’s sister Mamie Ahuja forgave him and given her written consent to release the imprisoned Naval Commander. After his release, Nanvati, his wife Sylvia and their three children went to Canada, where they settled in Toronto.
The story of love and betrayal influenced books and movies. Even in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children contains one chapter titled “Commander Sabarmati’s Baton”, where Commander Sabarmati is a fictionalized account of the Nanavati Case.
In 1963, Bollywood director R. K. Nayyar made a film named “Yeh Rastey Hain Pyar Ke”, which demonstrated the triangle of love-hate-betrayal of Nanavati-Sylvia-Prem. Sunil Dutt, Leela Naidu and Rehmaan portrayed the central three characters and veteran actor Ashok Kumar played an important role of lawyer. In 1973, writer-director Gulzar Saab took the same story to make his crime drama “Achanak”, where Vinod Khanna-Lily Chakraborty-Om Shivpuri were the leading pairs. But, this movie just loosely based on the triangle incident, it’s director made the whole story differently, whereas 1963’s thriller followed the real incident visibly.
2016-made Rustom, followed the earlier two film’s genre but first-time director Tinu Suresh Desai created some more tricky plots in his directorial debut. With Nanavati case as a central plot, he and writer Vipul K. Rawal decorated a sub-plot of corruption and patriotism in the movie’s body. Having Akshay Kumar in and as Rustom, the movie unfolded it’s lead actor’s another subtle act after Airlift, but failed to maintain the rest in same pace. It can be said that Rustom can be Akshay’s one of the best movies, according to his portrayal but it cannot be his best because of the half-bake plot and perfect match from the other leading or supporting actors. Arjan Baweja’s Vikram Makhija neither command the screen nor make the enough sensuality on screen, while Esha Gupta as Priti Makhija (Vikram’s power-loving spoilt sister) also disappoint by made wooden presence every time on screen. Ileana D’Cruz as Synthia Pavri (Commander Rustom Pavri’s wife) got several scope according to the plot but she ended up with buckets of tears and mourning, still much more less wooden, besides Esha Gupta. Pavan Malhotra as investigating officer and Usha Nadkarni as Jamnabai, did justice to their supporting roles. But at the end of the movie, again it is Ruatom Pavri aka Akshay Kumar who lifted the much-known story as a pain of a man of flesh and blood. From his first appearance in a Navy Ship to his departure from court, this man did not leave any flaw in his portrait. The younger Rustom, when fell in unconditional love with Synthia, Akshay looked perfectly romantic. When a man of Navy, learned the betrayal of his wife and surrendered himself after killing her spree, Akshay did not fail to present his pain on screen. But when, Rustom played a vital game of chess and investigating officer Lobo (Pavan Malhotra) interrogated him in a mock-play or in the courtroom, where public prosecutor tried to knock him down, the actor’s eyes never failed to reflect the exact expression of his restricted anger and pain, the limitation of a husband who unconditionally in love with his wife, even after her illegal relation and the true patriotic person.
Akshay Kumar had proved his power as a true actor once again and maintained the legacy which he created through films like Hera Pheri, Bhul Bhulaiyaa, Special 26, Baby and Airlift. The film must have used this man more powerfully more subtly but with the weak plot and the weaker representation, Rustom could not reach the outstanding overwhelming era of great films., though it had promises to be better.