Saturday, 27 August 2016

Three shots that shook the entire nation - Rustom

Three shots. Just three shots. That was all that was needed to jostle the nation one fine morning of 1959. The Blitz broke the news to the world with the above headline and continued to carry the news for another three years. Such was the uniqueness of the events; such was the charm it carried that the whole nation keenly followed what was to unfold.The story is from a fairly young and independent India all of 12 years old, the times when Mumbai was still called Bombay and the practice of a bench of jury giving out judgements was still underway, unlike today, where a single judge pronounces the fate of a case. 

The front page of the Blitz newsmagazine that broke the news. Photo Courtesy: Internet

A young Parsi had shot dead another man for having to refuse to marry his wife after having a brief affair with her. The man in question was KM Nanavati, an honest, nation-loving naval officer. The case was one of its kinds, for more reasons than one. The first thing he did after shooting his wife’s lover was to surrender. Surprisingly, the man managed to attract huge crowd support. It is said that the print media played a pivotal role in painting Nanavati as the hero and maligning the lover’s image. This led to the Jury members being influenced (allegedly) by public opinion shaped by the print media.

The front pages of Blitz, the newsmagazine which closely
followed the case for 3 years. Photo Courtesy: Internet

The crux of the arguments thrown by the lawyers was to figure out whether Nanavati shot the lover in the ‘heat of the moment’ or it was a pre-planned, well-thought through murder that was staged. Nanavati was found not guilty by the Bombay sessions court. The case took its course and was reopened in the Bombay High Court and then Supreme Court in the coming three years. The case was a landmark in bringing about important changes in the Indian Judicial system.

A poster of the film. Photo Courtesy: Internet

Akshay Kumar-starrer Rustom, that hit the theatres last weekend, is based on this infamous incidence, but at the same time exercises its creative freedom to the fullest. A lot of details and sequences in the film are tampered with along with the central characters’ names. For example, Rustom (played by Akshay Kumar) fights his own case in the court without a lawyer which did not happen in real life. Nanavati had a lawyer defending him. The prosecution was led by a young Ram Jethmalani back then.

The media influence in shaping the public opinion is evidently shown with Kumud Mishra killing it with his portrayal of a Parsi middle-aged man, running a leading weekly. The tampering with the story line makes it confusing for the viewer to comprehend what exactly unfolded. Akshay Kumar delivers a fine and believable performance as a Parsi naval officer who dots on his wife. Atif Aslam rejuvenates your life with his soul stirring voice in his romantic renditions. 


Having an extremely powerful and interest invoking case at hand and an actor of Akshay Kumar’s calibre to bring it across on screen, the film still fails to keep you hooked for long, unlike the promising trailer which had sent my expectations skyrocketing. 


But, as they say, there is always a silver lining to every cloud. As far as the weekend goes, go for Happy Bhag Jayegi. You won’t regret.

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