Rohit Dhawan, the son of director David Dhawan, makes his debut with a movie that suggests an unusual response to the current financial crisis. Dhawan, who also wrote the story and screenplay, borrows some ideas from the British comedy The Full Monty. Jimmy (Akshay Kumar) and Nick (John Abraham), two down-on-their-luck Indian men in London, decide to overcome their personal bankruptcy by becoming male escorts. Renamed Rocco and Hunter respectively, the men provide Chippendale-style fantasy-based entertainment to mostly Caucasian women, dressed variously as firemen, rig workers, policemen and Indian cricketers (they wear the blazers of Mahendra Sinh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh). Since this is an Indian movie, the men offer only titillation and no sex. They take off their shirts and make suggestive pelvic gestures but that’s just about it. The movie has an Adults only certificate, but poor Dhawan is unable to make full use of it.
The men have a reason to debase themselves, naturally: Jimmy has a nephew to take care of, while Nick has a high-maintenance girlfriend Radhika (Deepika Padukone). Crisis strikes in the form of Jimmy’s nephew being whisked away by the social welfare department and Radhika breaking off their engagement. The wannabe risqué comedy becomes a family drama, but the stripping device is not abandoned entirely. When Jimmy tries to clean up his act and enrols in no less than Oxford’s Trinity College for a degree in economics, his girlfriend (Chitrangada Singh) tells him that for every lesson learnt, she will take off a piece of clothing. Once again, coyness comes in the way of Chitrangada Singh finding an afterlife on YouTube.
Dhawan elicits something resembling performances out of both of his brawny actors. The screenplay ticks off all the boxes – there’s a bit of Brit-bashing and Indian flag-waving, there are mild spoofs of the florid dialogue and cheesy moments usually found in Hindi films and there are a few lectures on the importance of love and the need for forgive and forget. Dhawan throws in some gay-friendly moments, as if to acknowledge the campiness associated with male strippers, as well as shots of Nick and his future father-in-law smoking weed. The movie is judgement-free, but it’s also very pat. Buried underneath the piles of clothes discarded by Rocco and Hunter is a full-on sex comedy that’s dying to come out.
By Nandini Ramnath on December 09 2011 2.30pm