R… Rajkumar is one bad taste curry

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Starring Shahid Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha. In Hindi with English subtitles. Rated 14A. Now playing.

Bollywood masala films are known as such because they contain a spicy mix of diverse elements.

There's romance, comedy, sociopolitical melodrama, a large family in crisis, all of it interspersed with fights and dance sequences that are both equally choreographed.  In R… Rajkumar, director Prabhu Deva attempts to replicate this particular curry and succeeds only in making the viewer nostalgic for the classic masala films of the 1970s.

Rajkumar (Shahid Kapoor) arrives in a village ruled by rival opium producers who vie with one another for their market share of the illegal trade. They have turned the village into a war zone. Rajkumar’s motives are unclear as he enters the scene and insinuates himself with wit and boyish charm into the employ of the drug lord, Shivraj (Sonu Sood).

During a shoot-out he falls for the curvaceous beauty of Chanda (Sonakshi Sinha). Unluckily, she turns out to be the niece of the opposing drug lord Parmar (Ashish Vidyarthi). He pursues her with the kind of silliness and over-determination that we would otherwise recognize as harassment. Chanda is at first willfully indifferent to his allure but turns to him when she is betrothed against her will to Shivraj.

The rest of the film veers between flat comedy and increasingly brutal violence. R… Rajkumar never gets its tone right, and the shift between the various elements is mostly just annoying.

The best part of the film is Sonakshi Sinha’s presence. Like a young Hema Malini, she manages to provide a wonderful contrast to the current standard of Bollywood heroines with their anorexic figures and bland personalities.

Prabhu Deva’s first career was as a choreographer and he packs this film with numerous dance numbers that, much like the whole film, are unmemorable and fail to grasp the unique magic of the genre.

 

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