Review: ‘Rocky Handsome’ Is About a Log of Wood and a Kid

John Abraham lets his muscles do the talking and acting in Rocky Handsome

3 min read
John Abraham lets his muscles do the talking and acting in <i>Rocky Handsome</i>

Rocky Handsome is about a log of wood and its relationship with a child. The little girl can talk but the log of wood can’t. So, decidedly frustrated the log of wood spends his time playing foosball with steroids! This highly imaginative and interesting story has a director called Nishikant Kamat who as we can judge from his previous installment Drishyam, specializes in “Ctrl C - Ctrl V” brand of filmmaking.

This time it’s the Korean film The Man from Nowhere that serves as the original which has been drudgingly photocopied for the purpose of casting John Abraham as the log of wood-a casting coup of sorts.

The credit though must be shared by shoddy writing and John’s own inertia of facial muscles that not one expression or a millimeter of depth was allowed to penetrate through our handsome hero’s face. The little emoting that is required is done by his bludgeoning biceps but never is John out of character; never does he cease to be that log of wood!
John Abraham in <i>Rocky Handsome</i>
John Abraham in Rocky Handsome

Rocky stands, staring deadpan sometimes at the neglected child (Diya Chalwad), sometimes at scary looking bald goons and often at the camera… as if waiting to be whispered his lines. In what will go a long way in the equality debate between genders, John has to go through the exact same objectification that most of our Bollywood leading ladies have to go through. His perfectly chiseled body, that lithe figure , those brawny scars, 6 pack abs, titillating triceps, as the camera lustily moves from his clavicle to the slight bend between his shoulder blades… the shirtless self of Rocky Handsome is left bare for us to feast our eyes on.

It’s a treat. Trust me it is. He looks delectable. And as he punches hard, his martial arts training on full display, with the knife duels and guns battles we do go along, greedily, craving for a little more of his bare bodied avatar.
John Abraham is objectified like a Bollywood heroine in <i>Rocky Handsome</i>
John Abraham is objectified like a Bollywood heroine in Rocky Handsome

This until our own superficiality hits us and our guilt tugs at our heart strings and we force ourselves to focus on the narrative, subsumed by vacuous theatrics as it is. Rocky must save the little girl, whose mother‘s drug addiction leaves her loveless and neglected. He follows a bloody trail of organ smuggling, child trafficking and drug mafia. The film is peppered with some brutal action scenes (which to my tender heart seemed a bit too gruesome for comfort), inspired by its Korean alma mater which are good but the dialogues and the song placement – silly and painful respectively.

Since illegal organ selling is the background the maa-behen gaalis give way to kidney talk! “Main tum dono ki chaar kidneys bech dunga,” someone bellows. Rocky thunders, “Main tumhare saare organs nikalunga aur bechne laayak nahi chhodunga!” Ahem!
John Abraham and Divya Chalwad in <i>Rocky Handsome</i>
John Abraham and Divya Chalwad in Rocky Handsome

The punches are strong, but the effect is particularly laborious with sometimes a Nathalia Kaur and sometimes Nora Fatehi dancing to the beats of breaking bones and bullets ricocheting off. Which reminds me of Shruti Haasan, who plays Rocky Handsome’s pretty pouting wife for 2 and a half songs!

The villains who seem to be on steroids, brothers Kevin and Luke played by director Nishikant Kamat and Teddy Maurya indulge in histrionics. Sharad Kelkar as a smirking police officer looks dapper but apart from further highlighting Rocky’s super human and ultra-patriotic nature isn’t allowed to do much. I am particularly sad for cinematographer Shanker Raman. He did a fine job of capturing the foreboding and sinister mood.

If you have seen the original Korean film then this torpid effort at regurgitating the same story isn’t going to be enticing enough. John’s hot bod is alluring though and some of the fight scenes too. Choose your priorities and go if you must.

I will have to give Rocky Handsome 2 QUINTS out of 5.

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