From the many goofy scenes in the film, there's one where Akshay Kumar, when threatened by the villain, starts running and then falls flat on the ground. Given that he's prone to beating them up otherwise, it seems a bit strange. But then the boss orders his henchmen to beat him up to pulp, and you just shrug it away as yet another minor detail irrelevantly dismissed in the larger scheme of this film. As the henchmen run towards the lying down hero, there's a bomb blast that throws them all off their feet. A grinning Akshay gets up and tells them "Guys, if I went and laid down like that, surely you should have realized there's a plan, instead of just running after me."
This irreverence, where the makers almost seem to come out of the film and mock their own absurdity, gives the film a charm that on more than one occasion forces a smile out of you. Perhaps it's just that your sensibilities are so blurred by the smorgasbord of action and sound that hit you, and you're caught in a moment of weakness, but it does get to you.
There's a concept of an internally consistent universe in film. Basically, it allows filmmakers to take any kind of liberties they want with respect to the real world, as long as they're doing so with a set internal logic across the film, its characters, its settings, its treatment. Well, Prabhu Deva creates an absurdly loony version of our world, where anything goes. Fresh of a heist, Akshay Kumar is about to count his loot when out of nowhere, a female police officer appears. He looks up at her, bewildered. Then takes out a deodorant, and sprays it on himself. Obviously, the female officer loses all sense, takes off her cap, pulls out her hair, and starts dancing. Over. Next scene.
And it goes fast. Romance happens in the blink of any eye. Plot points roll out so quickly, they don't matter. Characters come and go at convenience, and surprisingly, it really doesn't jar. And the action, it alternates between slow mos and reverberating sounds of heads banging against stones, sharp weapons scything through bodies, and bones breaking at every other punch. Action is never too far from comedy, drama is never too far from romance, which is never too far from comedy. And all so, very quickly, in an almost Chaplinesque manner. Almost.
Visually - art direction, costumes, settings, camera - this is kitschy Tamil/Telugu potboiler at its heightened best. Sharp, rapid cuts are repeatedly used in the narrative, 'ably' complemented by the loud background score. Prabhu Deva's taken this template he knows and understands so well, and applied it to a big budget Akshay Kumar starrer. Anyone who has seen Wanted will realize this. Theres a clear aesthetic that he has in mind, which is definitively translated to screen. But it doesn't always work. The couple of 'serious' scenes, like when Akshay warms up to the girl, or when Inspector Vikram dies, jar against the nature of the film, and seem embarrassing attempts to inject drama. They are best left out. The songs border on the ridiculous, but the objective is clearly towards mass appeal. Every other character, including the lead actress Sonakshi Sinha, is a mere pawn moving around Akshay's Rathore.
Comparisions with Dabangg are obvious, with its predominantly rural setting and Akshay;s character of a larger than life cop. But what Dabangg aspired for, and did in just a few scenes, Rowdy Rathore goes all the way in being an out and out masala film. Further, it is ably propped up by its top cop star. Akshay Kumar is just the actor for a film of this nature. His understated brand of humor works perfectly with the over the top nature of the film, and he pulls off the lunacy just about right. In a film that shameless vies your attention for 'romance, comedy, action, emotion', Khiladi Kumar plays each of these more than competently, and in the exact vein of the film. Perfect casting, this.
To look for conventional plot, aesthetics or treatment in Rowdy Rathore is pointless. It is shamelessly commercial, but never once apologetic about it. The film plays by its own rules, so you're either in or out. You decide.