Movies remain interesting, even when they are badly directed, provided the reference point is life. When bad cinema is the takeoff point for a movie, we end up with a noxious cipher like Rowdy Rathore. A remake of a Telugu film called Vikramarkudu, the film assumes that the action movie genre is the source material for all commentary on life.
Shiva is a petty thief in Mumbai who has an exact replica in Vikram Rathore, an uncompromising IPS officer in north India. They are not identical twins, they just look like Akshay Kumar, so exactly that even Rathore’s little daughter thinks that Shiva is her father. Explanations are not necessary. The situation has been provided, an actress (Sonakshi Sinha) has been planted as Paro, Shiva’s love interest in Mumbai, a Tamilian villain (Nasser) transferred to his new posting as Rathore’s toxic antagonist up north and, post production, special effects have got Akshay Kumar aerial and in perfect fight position.
The pieces are in place, switch your mind to imbecile mode and stagger out after two-and-a-half hours, reformed and respectful of the power and glory of the south Indian movie juggernaut. Retribution for centuries of Aryan invasions, north Indian arrogance, attempts to impose Hindi as lingua franca, use of that sweeping ethnic generalisation, ‘Madrasi’, all that and more, has come home to roost. Director Prabhu Deva—dancer, choreographer, actor, man of all parts—has struck back with a vengeance.
More seriously, Rowdy Rathore is an attempt to use the same brush that refurbished the successful action film hero brand that Salman Khan used in Dabangg and Bodyguard, Ajay Devgn in Singham and John Abraham in Force—an invigorating male restorative for the middle-aged actor.
Never mind that the movie ends up as an assault on the sensibilities of the intelligent movie goer. In the larger scheme of things, that becomes irrelevant. This film is really awful.