How and who do you complain to when a sure shot slick actioner takes shape of a mindless drama with convoluted plots and unreal twists stitched together to create an experience that’s a torture to sit through. Rashtra Kavach Om does disservice not only the the genre it claims it belongs to, but also to the audiences who want to see Aditya Roy Kapur on the big screen doing something substantial rather than just packing a punch and making us feel the impact in slo-mo. Director Kapil Verma wants us to believe in the fictional universe he has created where everyone is fighting but nobody knows why and for what. (Also read: Rocketry: The Nambi Effect review | R Madhavan wins with the story of an underdog, Shah Rukh Khan’s cameo is endearing)
Om (Aditya Roy Kapur) is a super commando who is on an important mission of getting the Rashtra Kavach (which literally translated to country’s safety guard) back in safe hands and save the nation. He is close to completing his mission when he gets shot and comes back to life only to realise that he has lost his memory. Meanwhile, Kavya Sharma (Sanjana Sanghi) is taking care of him while other officials of the elite government agency — Murthy (Prakash Raj) and Jai Rathod (Ashutosh Rana) are busy figuring how to get Om back into the mission. But it’s not as simple as it seems from the outside. While saving his nation, Om has a lot more to discover–for instance finding his father Dev Rathod (Jackie Shroff) and prove that he was not a traitor.
The story written by Raj Saluja and Niket Pandey’s is all over the place. Subplots are introduced every 15 minutes and most do not feel important to the plot. Some scenes actually test your patience for the height of absurdity they touch. In one of the scenes, two officers are shot. While the man lays there lifeless, the woman is quick to get up, stand straight as if the bullet never touched her. And you pull your hair thinking, ‘What was that?’ Then, there’s a hero who gets shot in the head, falls deep into the sea and still manages to survive and gets his physical powers back in no time. What super powers are these after all?
And if this wasn’t enough, take these cringeworthy line— a doctor, on seeing Om’s condition says, ‘Aapo kya chahiye, murda with memory, ya zinda with hope?’ Then in one of the scenes, Kapoor says, ‘Rakht rahe ya na rahe, rashtra hamesha rahega’ and ‘Ek ladai ko jeetne ke liye usse baar baar ladna padta hai’. Are we back in the 80s?
In terms of performances also, Rashtra Kavach isn’t really laced with anything extraordinary that you stand and take notice other than Kapur’s physical transformation for this macho avatar. Let’s give credit where it’s due. He does make some action sequences look good — only the real ones minus the special effects. He, in fact, doesn’t falter much in acting department either. Having played a lover in his previous outings — Aashiqui 2 and Malang — Kapur can and should explore more in the action genre, as it suits him. Sanghi gets to pack some punches but her character doesn’t have anything more to do in terms of emotions or screen presence. A little more depth there could have worked. Ashutosh Rana performs his part with full diligence and restrain and isn’t too over-the-top. Prakash Raj is back at doing what he has been done since Wanted (2009) days. He really needs an image makeover now. There’s also Prachee Shah Pandya as Om’s mother, who has some decent scenes.
Interestingly, the film was previously titled Om: The Battle Within and now after having watched it, I feel this title would have worked better as each of the character was indeed fighting a battle within themselves. I couldn’t make out why would the makers call it Rashtra Kavach Om and use chest-thumping patriotism as one of the tropes. Watch it only for Aditya Roy Kapoor if you must.
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