There was a warning sign right away, when a suburban moviehall decided to cancel a screening of Rashtra Kavach Om, because they needed at least eight people, and there were just four waiting at the box-office. All that publicity about the leading man building his body to play a soldier, the leading lady training hard for the fight sequences, and the audience could not be bothered to turn up. Have they overdosed on patriotism in films and web shows? Are they expecting the level of action seen in recent regional language films, and the dubbed versions of Hollywood superhero movies, and nothing less will do?
Whatever the reason, if more people had bought tickets to this movie, they would just have been disappointed, or worse, annoyed. Rashtra Kavach Om is a throwback to those films made in the past, when actors shot multiple shifts a day, and did not have time to change their costumes or vary their lines. Scenes and dialogue were written according to whichever actor showed up to shoot, and how much time the hero had. Even then, at the end, the film made some sense. What excuse does Kapil Verma have to make such a slapdash film? And how could the writers (Raj Saluja-Niket Pandey) get away with this script? Production houses and actors talk of working with bound scripts, but does anybody actually read them?
The only ones who seem to have done their jobs are the action director and Aditya Roy Kapur’s trainer. He plays Om, who belongs to a crack team of RAW agents out to trace a priceless gizmo – the kavach—that protects the target of a nuclear attack. Considering the man who was developing the shield (Jackie Shroff) was kidnapped twenty years ago, it does not say much for the country’s clueless intelligence network, never mind the Jai Hind or Jai Bhavani slogans the patriots spout all the time.
Then, for no reason at all, Om loses his memory, and after some emotional maa ka haath ki kheer emotional drama, he just as randomly gets it back. There are multiple flashbacks of missions, what happened to Om in childhood, who are his parents (Ashutosh Rana-Prachee Shah Paandya) and hardly anything adds up. A team member who died in some part of the world, appears alive in another, with no explanation. A woman boss keeps yelling at everyone in sight, but there’s the big, fat RAW mole in plain sight. After a really dangerous mission, the team goes off to dance in a night club with ‘item number’ ticked off some arbitrary list of must-have sequences.
Prakash Raj is in the film, maybe because they wanted a Southern star, and Sanjana Sanghi was cast to provide a love interest—a very tepid romance at that. Mercifully, there is no dream sequence with dupatta fluttering in slow motion. The slo-mo shots are reserved for the hero’s swagger, for the hand to hand combat, for which they find time in spite of being armed to the teeth, because bad guys flying and crashing look better than just dropping dead. Om’s shirt-ripping scene does not have any impact, however, and his pulling a helicopter with a chain just gets a yawn.
A bad film can still salvage something if it is entertaining; Rashtra Kavach Om is criminally boring.
(This piece first appeared in rediff.com)