Rustom ***Dir: Dharmendra Suresh Desai. With: Akshay Kumar, Ileana D’Cruz, Esha Gupta, Arjan Bajwa. 148 mins. Cert: 12A
Shamelessly tarting up a true-life society scandal, this period melodrama suggests director Dharmendra Suresh Desai has swallowed recent Todd Haynes projects whole. Akshay Kumar is the eponymous Navy man who enters a police station in old Bombay (as it was in 1958) and confesses to shooting the industrialist who cuckolded him – a simple crime of passion, complicated by gutter press stirring, institutional corruption, and the accused’s officer-grade tactical nous. Screaming excess threatens to stifle the emotion and tragedy; Kumar has only to hit the same note of dogged honour and wait for the storm to pass. As an exercise in medium-high style, however, it retains the attention. Desai stages a month of interrogations in a single camera movement, the screen pops with candied pinks and peppermints, and among a characterful supporting cast, Esha Gupta – as the deceased’s sister – delivers just about the best vampish glowering witnessed this side of the Crawford/Davis era. Sign her up for everything.
Rustom is now showing in cinemas nationwide.