Rocky Handsome is a story of a retired special agent Kabir Ahlawat aka Rocky in the sinning state of Goa, where drugs, child trafficking, organ trade and brutal killings are the norm of the day. How he forges an unlikely bond with his neglected young neighbour, Naomi and takes it upon himself to protect the little child from violent criminals who kidnap her, forms the crux of the tale. Director Nishikant Kamat’s “Rocky Handsome” is a poor replica of the original as it lacks an emotional connect.
The plot, presented in a dramatic and convoluted manner, is strewn with plot-holes galore that make the film far-fetched and unbelievable. Although the characters representing the underbelly of Goa are finely etched, being borrowed from the Theatre of the Absurd, they tend to appear ludicrous. Narrated in a non-linear manner, the screenplay is complex and convoluted. With nothing much happening in terms of the story, the pace drags in the first half, but picks up momentum in the latter part of the film. The only thing that keeps you gaping at the screen are the astutely choreographed gruesome action-packed sequences and the performances of the cast.
The film is John Abraham’s canvas and as the beefed-up Kabir Ahlawat, he shines sporadically. He offers the punches more convincingly than his dialogues. Shruti Hassan in a miniscule role as his wife Rukshida is natural, but her onscreen chemistry with John seems awkward and forced. It is the little spirited Divya Chalwad, who is adorable with her uninhibited and spontaneous performance as Naomi. She steals your heart as the little imp constantly seeking attention of her “gangster” neighbour, Rocky Handsome. It is touching to see her innocuously explain her pet name, “Dustbin”. Hers is a flat, two-dimensional character that leaves an impact and you wish she had more screen time.
Director Nishikant Kamat makes his acting debut in this film as the ambitious drug peddler, Kevin. He is notable and gives a fairly spirited performance. But, in the overall scheme of things, he is never intimidating. The actor playing Kevin’s brother Luke is over dramatic and buffoonish. He adds buoyancy to the narration though. Sharad Kelkar as the police inspector is stereotypical and wasted.
On the technical front, the fight sequences are gloomy, yet exciting. The accompanying sound effects, which include the swishing of the knives and pounding of the drums especially, in the climax scenes gives an adrenaline boost to the viewing experience. With relatively moderate production values, director of photography Shanker Raman with his astute lensing, delivers a dark milieu that cleverly reflects the characters’ external and internal. The editing is sleek and the songs mesh well into the narration but they do not enhance the telling of the tale. Overall, “Rocky Handsome” is bound to appeal only to those fond of action films.