Maybe it’s just me, but then there is something really charming about a man in black suit going around assassinating people like its a part of his daily routine. When Director Lee Jeung-beom made The Man From Nowhere (2010), little did he know that the film would be ripe for an Indian remake. Thankfully, Director Nishikant Kamat and Ritesh Shah (Screenplay/Dialogues) don’t mess too much with the original material and serve it right back to us in India as Rocky Handsome. What works for them is John Abraham fits right in as the lead and also produces an otherwise not so masala film as the trailers would have shown. And ahoy, Rocky Handsome turns out quite a good watch on a weekend where you have a largely disappointing magnum opus releasing with it.
Rocky Handsome tells the story of a man (John Abraham), called colloquially as Handsome, who lives a reclusive life in Goa after the demise of his beloved wife. His depression eats him up day in and out and his only friends are his neighbours, Anna (Nathalia Kaur) and her eight year old daughter Naomi (Diya Chalwad). When Naomi and Anna get abducted, Handsome cannot help but go out to get them as he cannot erase Naomi’s face from his memory. During his search, he gets entangled in the web of Goa’s drug, organ theft and human trafficking mafia as all three of them seem to be having common roots with the abduction. As he goes about setting the record straight, he crosses paths with Goa’s local police and ANC, led by Sharad Kelkar, which ultimately reveals his long drawn past of being Rocky, the assassin. With a pretty simple plot as its foundation, Rocky Handsome is still a multi-threaded film which intertwines a lot of antagonists and their motives in a simple kidnap and escape story. And somewhere along the line, all the threads of the story do not get their equal share of development. Thankfully, Kamat does not try to tone down the thematic darkness of the original much and it only elevates Rocky Handsome from being a no-brainer. However, this one is definitely much less brutal than The Man From Nowhere and will surely suit the tastes of Indian audiences in a better way.
Produced by John Abraham Entertainment and Azure Entertainment, Rocky Handsome is mounted on a respectable scale. Renowned cinematographer Shanker Raman lends an experienced hand to the camera and manages to capture some of the best moments in highly fresh yet intuitive ways, making Rocky Handsome look bloody good without any flying vehicles or men. Aarif Shaikh‘s editing could have made the film a tad more edgy. Music by Inder and Sunny Bawra is okay but almost unrequired at most places. Sanjay Mourya and Allwyn Rego‘s sound design is super. However, a film like Rocky Handsome relies heavily on its action and stunts. Using simple hand-combat skills, and slasher objects over guns, director Kamat gives us a bunch of juicy action sequences which give you the exact thrill you are looking for when you walk into the theaters. To top it all, John looks kickass doing all that. The snappiness of the action could get to you after a while and it is one of the key elements enhancing an already stylish film.
Now we all know that John Abraham cannot act. It has been 15 years since he debuted and he still cannot. Nope. So what do you do? You put him in a film where he has less than 2 pages of dialogue, has to cry once, feel angry once and pretty much maintain a wall’s expression all through the rest of the film. There, you have your Rocky Handsome. To make him look better, you cast an absolutely despicable actress (Shruti Hassan) next to him. All set, done. And then you cast yourself as the main villain. Yes, Nishikant Kamat plays Kevin Ferreira, one of the main villains in the film. Sharad Kelkar is good as the selfish cop, while Nathalia Kaur must only dance. The little girl Diya holds her ground well in scenes where she has long dialogues as well.
I watched Rocky Handsome in a multiplex which functions almost like a single screen, mainly due to its audience. For the first time in my life for a John Abraham film, I reached the theater and found that the show was houseful. I had to wait for the next show. When I took my seat and the film started, the whole theater erupted into cheers and applauds. Truly, I never expected John to have such a fan following. Or maybe it is the action/romance shown in the promos which made all of them make a visit to the theaters expecting a hardcore masala film, which is abominably low on story and logic. As the plot got more twisted and intricate, I saw a majority of the audience losing any idea of what was going on. They seem to have no clue about drugs, organ theft or even human trafficking and how it made sense to the story. They seem to be only there to see John beat up a dozen goons and would erupt intermittently every time he did so. In the end, one fine gentleman made the remark – ‘Woh choti bachchi ka story daal ke thoda dheela kar diya picture na?’
I gave up right then. Our Indian audiences cannot take it if anyone messes with their masala. Yet, Rocky Handsome balances it quite well walking a tight rope. And its runtime of 125 minutes, there is never a dull moment. The film has its share of flaws and it does take things a little too conveniently at time, but then its worth a trip to the movies. Go watch!
Rating – 3/5