Director: Akarsh Khurana
Throw: Taapsee Pannu, Priyanshu Painyuli, Abhishek Banerjee
Stream on: ZEE5
In the cinema there are films and there are projects. Akarsh Khurana’s Rashmi Rocket is the latter, in which the main character Rashmi Veera Taapsee Pannu plays. Yes you’ve read correctly. Rashmi is an addition to Pannu’s previous appearances, Haseen Dillruba and Thappad, where the actor’s personality overshadows the character she plays. And frankly, aside from the physical transformation, Pannu is completely characterless. Rashmi is from Gujarat. But pannus language and mannerisms are flat North Indian. The tanned body and traditional tattoos only look like decoration. The plight of a person whose identity is being challenged by a stupid law never comes to light. Which makes this character difficult to invest in.
The fault also lies with director Akarsh Khurana, who cannot produce any of the characters. The only actor who makes an impression is Abhishek Banerjee as the lawyer Eeshit Mehta. Priyanshu Painyuli as Rashmi’s husband Major Gagan Thakur doesn’t quite look like it. Adding a mustache to make him look like a major in the Indian Army is not a convincing move. Among other things, Manoj Joshi Ham plays as Rashmi’s father. Supriya Pathak Kapur plays Rashmi’s mother Bhanuben. For some reason, the Gujarati character the veteran actor plays seems like a version of her famous television character Hansa from Khichdi. After that, it becomes difficult to take them seriously.
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The real damage is being done by writers Aniruddha Guha and Kanika Dhillon (with additional text by Akarsh Khurana and Lisha Bajaj), who, despite the serious problem of gender testing in female athletes, write a sloppy script and cheesy dialogue. The made-up narrative for female empowerment is the structural flaw that makes Rashmi Rocket never take off. Everything is fed to you in a scattered way. There are the obvious sports training sessions and winners’ Mondays that have nothing new to offer. This is the case with most sports biopics or sports-based films because there are too many of them.
The other sprinters who compete with rashmi seem to run slower than rashmi. Surely it reminded me of the brilliant sprint sequences in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Farhan Akhtar looked like an athlete in every way, training and running with everything he has. The actor-director duo themselves couldn’t quite match this level in Toofaan, which was released earlier this year.
What surprised me was the banner that produced this film, Ronnie Screwvala’s RSVP – usually good at quality control. Rashmi Rocket can’t even walk away with the excuse that it was shot during the ongoing pandemic because the cause here is weak script.