‘Rustom’ trailer brings back the fascinating Nanavati case in focus


The first official trailer of Akshay Kumar stared ‘Rustom’ has been out on Thursday morning. Clocking in at just three minutes, the trailer graphs the basic points in the movie – the dedicated service of Rustom Pavri (Akshay), a respectable commander in the Indian Navy, his idyllic married life with his English-born wife (Ileana D’Couz), the discovery of her affair with a family friend, Rustom shooting the lover, and the court case that followed.

While based on the real life story of the navy Commander KM Nanavati and his shooting of his wife Sylvia’s lover Prem Ahuja, the trailer also shows some parts different from the real case, generating a little confusion.

The Nanavati case was interesting for a variety of reasons: It led to the abolishing of the jury system in India, created friction between two communities (the Parsis, to which group Nanavati belonged; and the Sindhis — Ahuja was one, as was his sister Mamie Ahuja, who was heavily involved in the court battles subsequent to Prem’s death), and the role the media (the tabloid Blitz run by Russi Karanjia) played in shaping public perception of the case and its principal parties.

However, the Rustom trailer certainly brings out some of other aspects, it introduces a viewpoint of whether or not the titular character was a patriot or a traitor; there are hints of some form of military espionage that he carried ot, or threatened to, perhaps to secure his freedom.

In reality, Nanavati was released from jail after three years; his case was helped with a pardon signed by Mamie Ahuja (played by Esha Gupta in Rustom, overshadowed by her cigarette holder and frozen bouffant in the trailer) and the efforts of a number of people working on his behalf. He went to live in Canada with Sylvia and their three children, and passed away in 2003.

Incidentally, the tale of Sylvia Nanavati inspired the song ‘Sylvia’ in Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet. The Nanavati story has set-off a host of other re-telling — both in print and on screen.