Shiva (Akshay Kumar) is a small-time thief in Mumbai who falls in love with Paro (Sonakshi Sinha) from Patna. He tells her the truth about being a thief and resolves to give up crime because he loves Paro dearly. Before that, he decides to commit a large robbery along with his con-friend 2G (Paresh Ganatra), which would enable him to earn a lot of money; hence he can give up crime. He "tricks" a woman on a railway station and flees with a trunk. This leads Shiva to Chinki, a little girl who was in the trunk instead of the wealth he thought was there. Chinki thinks that he is her father. Puzzled, he is forced to keep Chinki with him, as a police officer Vishal Sharma (Yashpal Sharma) keeps his eye on him.
Shiva fears Paro will catch him with Chinki and he will lose her forever. He finds a photo of Chinki and her father, who looks exactly like Shiva, thus realizing why Chinki thinks Shiva is her father. It is revealed that Chinki's father is Vikram Rathore (Akshay Kumar), who is a brave cop, who criminals fear. While chasing a goon to find his daughter, Rathore gets hit by an auto and his brain endures severe trauma. The doctor tells him that the brain injury is serious enough to put his life in danger.
After a few days, Shiva gets fed up with Chinki and breaks the tape recorder she uses to listen to her late mother's voice. The next morning, he learns that her mother died. Feeling guilty, he fixes the recorder and becomes fond of Chinki, taking care of her. Unfortunately, Paro sees this and believes he has a daughter that he hid from her and Paro leaves for Patna heartbroken. Soon, the goons who are after Rathore see Shiva. Thinking he is Rathore, they start chasing him. Shiva and Chinki flee for their lives and encounter the woman from the railway station and the police officer from earlier, who tell Shiva to run. Shiva is soon surrounded by the goons. It is revealed that Rathore is watching the whole thing from the top of a building. Just as Shiva is about to get stabbed, Rathore jumps down, killing one of goons.
Shiva and the goons are shocked to see the identical-looking Rathore. Rathore locks Shiva and Chinki in a cell for safety, and starts fighting the goons. His brain injury gets worse but he eventually kills every goon by himself.
At the hospital, Shiva realizes that the railway station woman is in fact a real police officer, Insp.Razia Khan (Gurdeep Kohli). The officers tell Shiva that the man who looks like him is ASP Vikram Rathore, a disciplined and respected police officer.
The officers narrated the whole incident to Shiva. Six months ago, Rathore traveled to a village called Devgarh as the new ASP. There, a goon called Baapji (Nassar) and his son Munna trouble, torture and annex money from the villagers. Rathore immediately arrests Munna for raping Vishal Sharma's wife but he is released because of Baapji's political influence. Baapji arranges a party celebrating Munna's release. At the party, Munna humiliates the police officers. Rathore, being the next target, moves back to the balcony, where Munna falls by slipping bullet,which Rathore puts and gets hanged by the belt of a humiliated inspector. The next day, Rathore gets attacked by Baapji's brother Titla (Supreeth Reddy), where he is stabbed at the back while the people were celebrating Munna's death and shot in the head while trying to save a village child. He is then assumed to be dead. While the police officers are getting ready to bury him, he starts breathing, having survived. Everybody promises not to disclose this to anyone. The officers then took Rathore to Mumbai for treatment. After Shiva hears the whole story, the doctors say that Rathore doesn't have much time left. Rathore requests Shiva to take care of his daughter. Shiva promises and says that Chinki is now his daughter. Rathore dies holding Shiva's hand.
Shiva vows to complete Rathore's unfinished work. He takes on Rathore's identity and goes to Devgarh with Chinki to take revenge. He sets Baapji's liquor factory on fire and distributes the grains and money back to the villagers. Paro finds out the truth, and that Shiva will now always be Vikram Rathore. She apologizes to him and vows that she will also take care of Chinki. In a heavy climax, Shiva eventually kills Baapji and Titla. The people of Devgarh are now safe. Shiva marries Paro and starts his new life as a police officer with her, Chinki, Razia, Vishal, and 2G.Akshay Kumar as Shiva/ASP Vikram Rathore (Dual role)
Sonakshi Sinha as Paro
Ananya Nayak as Chinki
Paresh Ganatra as 2G
Nassar as Baapji
Supreeth Reddy as Titla
Yashpal Sharma as Inspector Vishal Sharma
Saniya Anklesaria as Inspector Vishal Sharma's daughter
Gurdeep Kohli as Inspector Razia Khan
Mushtaq Khan as Baapji's brother-in-law
Anant Jog as Minister
Darshan Jariwala as Commissioner
Pooja Rawal as Mrs. Rathore (in the photo)
Shireesh Sharma as Paro's father
Shruti Bapna as Paro's friend in song "Chammak Challo"
Ashok Samarth as Babu
Kareena Kapoor in song "Chinta Ta Ta Chita Chita"
Vijay in song "Chinta Ta Ta Chita Chita"
Prabhu Deva in song "Chinta Ta Ta Chita Chita"
Maryam Zakaria in song "Aa Re Pritam Pyare"
Shakti Mohan in song "Aa Re Pritam Pyare"
Mumaith Khan in song "Aa Re Pritam Pyare"
Akshay Kumar learnt a special combat karate technique for his character role in the film. Kumar reported that he had accepted the role in Rowdy Rathore since his son loves to watch him in action roles. Sanjay Leela Bhansali teamed up with designer Shabinaa Khan to co-produce Rowdy Rathore, which is his first film with Akshay Kumar. It is also Bhansali's first film as a solo producer and in action genre. Maryam Zakaria was selected to perform an item number. Popular Tamil actor Vijay made a friendly appearance in the song "Chinta Ta", Prabhu Deva himself appeared in the song. Kareena Kapoor also made a friendly appearance.
The filming started on 10 August 2011. During the shooting for a climax scene, Akshay hurt his shoulder. The police denied permission for shooting of Rowdy Rathore at the World Heritage Site Hampi, following protests from local activists and artists. The film unit consisting of director Prabhu Deva, actors Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha and 50 other dancers left the site on Tuesday, authorities issued directions to the crew to stop shooting with immediate effect following violations of ASI conservation rules and for tranquillity. Local people and artists opposed shooting of a song sequence, featuring Akshay and Sonakshi, along with many dancers, scheduled to be shot at several heritage sites in Karnataka including the Vijaya Vittala temple, Lotus Mahal, Maha Navami Dibba and other historic places in the 15th century capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. The movie had the 50 crore insurance for Akshay Kumar.
The trailer of Rowdy Rahore was launched in an open stadium in Worli on 2 April 2012 and received over 2,295,756 views in under one month on YouTube.
UTV tied up with radio channel Red FM for organising a contest titled "Rowdy Hunt" to look for social do-gooders and others who work towards social betterment – winners of the contest will accompany star Akshay Kumar to promote the film during his tours. The hunt has taken place in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Mumbai and New Delhi, where callers were invited to share their grievances and tackle the culprit on a public platform in true "Rowdy" style. The RJ/host will then select five rowdies in each city based on a "Rowdy Meter" who will then comprise Akshay Kumar's Rowdy Gang in a particular city.
The cast and crew went to Dubai as part of promotional tour. Sonakshi Sinha promoted the film on Big FM. On 26 May 2012, she promoted the film on Dance India Dance Lil' Masters on Zee Tv, and the Zee Network are giving out free cinema tickets to people who are correct in the Safari Cinema. Wardrobe company Dollar Industries has tied up with the producers to promote their products with the film.
The soundtrack is by Sajid-Wajid and was released 25 April 2012. The line Chinta Ta Ta Ta and part of its music has been borrowed from the original song of its Telugu version which was confirmed by Wajid. Kumar Sanu has sung a song for this film, making his comeback after four years.
The film received a U/A certificate from Central Board of Film Certification and the film's satellite rights was sold for ₹350 million (US$5.5 million). The film released worldwide on 1 June 2012. Rowdy Rathore was released in 2,300 screens in India and around 400 screens overseas.
Rowdy Rathore received mixed reviews from critics. Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama gave the film 4 stars, saying, "If you savor typical masaledaar fares, this one should be on your have-to-watch listing for certain. Dhamaal entertainer!" DNA India gave 3 stars out of 5 and said, "Rowdy is Akshay's return to action. And how! The actor takes charge of the film from the first scene and holds it tight all through. To put it simply, the film is to Akshay what Wanted was for Salman!" Srijana Mitra Das for The Times of India gave the film 3 stars of 5, and said, "Fans will love Akshay's mooch-twirling masala-act but be ready for hardcore action too — some pretty gruesome."
Mrigank Dhaniwala for Koimoi.com gave it 3 stars out of 5, and gave the verdict that the film entertains in parts. "Watch it for Akshay Kumar's performance and the comedy." Shomini Sen from Zee News also gave 3 stars out of 5 and said, "The premise of the film may be good, but the treatment is that of a typical south Indian pot boiler." Based on 21 reviews, review aggregate site desimartini.com gave the verdict, "Although the movie doesn't do complete justice to the original Telugu blockbuster, it does have some funny dialogues and action sequences that will make you want to whistle! Rowdy Rathore is a one time watch." The site's average audience rating is 3/5.
Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN gave movie 1 star out of 5 and said "Rowdy Rathore is the kind of movie that's made by people with a cash register in place of their brain. Because no legitimate reason, other than financial gain, can justify why this movie was made – it has no story or plot whatsoever, the characters are entirely forgettable, and it's so long and loud and silly that the laughs dry up early on. That the film has such impressive pedigree – it's produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, directed by Prabhudeva, and stars Akshay Kumar – is both baffling and shameful." Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV gave the film 2 stars out of 5, saying, "Rowdy Rathore plays out pretty much like a comic-book fantasy rendered in the form of a live-action film. Go for it if you must, but don't expect the earth from it." Blessy Chettiar of DNA India gave the film 2 stars out of 5, concluding, "Akshay's me-too is fun while it lasts. Watch it for him, lest he feels bad for jumping on the South remake bandwagon too late to get any attention." Raja Sen of Rediff.com too gave the film 2 stars out of 5, and commented, "It can hardly be called a film, but ah well. Watch it if only to remind yourself of old Khiladi flicks...." Oneindia.in criticised the film's illogical plot, however concluded saying, "Overall, Rowdy Rathore is a total paisa wasool film, hence it's a must watch."
Trisha Gupta of Firstpost reviewed "Rowdy Rathore is a mess of maal, masala and moustache while it has neither the wit nor the charm needed to craft a real send-up". Mayank Shekhar, on his website theW14.com, says "While you can't tell one Akshay Kumar from the other in this film, you obviously can't tell this film from any other action hit from recent or distant past either. That's what a dead formula film is supposed to be. Going by box-office figures, the producers, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and UTV, are certain this is what the audiences currently desire. They probably do. Is this what they deserve? I'm not sure.
Rowdy Rathore had been the most appreciated film since Dabangg released in 2010. It had seen the best word of mouth since Dabangg which is reflected in trending of its first three-week run. Good word-of-mouth had helped it to take its distributor share to ₹740 million (US$12 million) in India at the end of its run. Rowdy Rathore has emerged one of the biggest grosser ever in Mumbai circuit and grossed ₹515.5 million (US$8.0 million) in seven weeks.
The film took a bumper opening at single screens at an occupancy of around 95%–100%. It collected around ₹150.6 million (US$2.3 million) nett domestic in the opening day. Rowdy Rathore had a good opening weekend with collection of ₹475.0 million (US$7.4 million). The film further collected ₹91.0 million (US$1.4 million) on Monday and ₹80 million (US$1.2 million) on Tuesday. Rowdy Rathore had collected around ₹770 million (US$12 million) nett plus in its first week and this makes it the second highest collections ever for a regular Friday-Thursday week behind Dabangg, which collected ₹810 million (US$13 million) nett. The collections of Rowdy Rathore were around ₹50 million (US$780,000) nett on its 8th day, which was better than the new release Shanghai on its first week. The film collected a huge ₹335.0 million (US$5.2 million) nett in its second week taking the two-week business to ₹1,095.0 million (US$17 million) nett. It was steady on its third week as it collected around ₹21.0 million (US$330,000) nett on its third Friday despite being new release, Ferrari Ki Sawaari. It had collected ₹150 million (US$2.3 million) nett in third week, ₹46.1 million (US$720,000) in fourth week and ₹18.4 million (US$290,000) nett in fifth week thus taken its five weeks total to ₹1,304.5 million (US$20 million). The film eventually made ₹1.33 billion (US$21 million) in India.
Rowdy Rathore had collected around ₹182.0 million (US$2.8 million) overseas in ten days. Collections had been considered average" in most circuits while UAE was the best. Rowdy Rathore has finished around ₹192.0 million (US$3.0 million) and is an average fare overseas.
The satellite rights of the Hindi Version film were syndicated to Sony Television. Later on, the film was also dubbed in regional languages- Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. The rights of the Tamil Version were secured by Vijay TV. The rights of the Telugu version were purchased by MAA TV. The rights of the Malayalam version were acquired by Asianet. All the three dubbed versions were given a U/A rating.
For theatrical release, the film was given a U/A certificate, but later on the film was recertified U by the censor board for video and release on Doordarshan.