I feel violated. Priyadarshan’s definitely managed to “Aakrosh” the audience. What with medalist army officer Pratap Kumar (Ajay Devgn) having superhero traction shoes that enable him to somehow climb vertical walls (with no hands! Move over Spiderman!), jump from roof to roof in a done to death chase sequence AND is able to maintain absolute equilibrium while navigating standing on the roof of a wildly driven jeep…oh did I mention he’s learned a few tricks from Tarzan? Unfortunately, this is no Marvel Comic superhero and is disappointing.
The realistic portrayal of the very grave subject – a high profile case of the sudden disappearance of three college students in a remote village in Bihar that has the entire nation up in a storm, being investigated by an army officer (Devgn) and a CBI officer (Akshaye Khanna), was so beautifully built up in the first half of the movie and is so sadly massacred in the second.
After a remarkable success in his comedies (like De Dana Dhan), Priyadarshan takes a break with Aakrosh and once again jumps into subjects with depth and gravity having already done so with Virasat, Kaala Paani and Kanjeevaram. In an action packed thriller format, the duo must solve the case which unravels itself as an honor-killing of a love affair gone awry. They must overcome deep rooted casteism plaguing the grahmeen society, muted locals unwilling to support any investigation, disappearing witnesses and a local nexus, Shool Sena, comprising of local politicians, goons, sword brandishing cycle bandits and of course the local police who cover up everything.
With befitting dialogues in bemusing local lingo, decent editing and a minimal number of songs to take a break from the grim brutality has helped keep the film keep its head above the water. There is ample attention to detail which will transport you right into the scene. The music is average.
Akshaye Khanna’s flagging career will seek no redemption. He is overshadowed by Devgn throughout the movie. It’s a shame that even the crowd-puller Devgn is wasted in this film. The lead villain, (Paresh Rawal), a corrupt wife-beating cop who syndicates with the Shool Sena, pulls off another brilliant performance. But having played dirty cop a gazillion times over, there’s nothing fresh. Sameera Reddy does a spicy item number and for once Bipasha Basu is in a super serious role as Geeta, your average bhartiya naari. From being a hip city girl to a sari donning, 24/7 care-taking bruised and beaten housewife with zilch self respect residing in a remote village is quite an extreme turn and Bips is a misfit.
But what is definitely appalling is the endless mind-numbing gory violence which will have your stomach churn. It is no wonder then that the Censor awarded ‘A’ category to this film. Agreed, it is a serious subject. But a scene in which Geeta, Paresh’s wife (Basu), is being flogged is dragged out for far too long at the cost of the audience’s sensibilities. The action sequences take an incredulous comical turn and ruin the entire gravitas that was created with such care. Devgn will also give you “Crossing Railway Tracks for Dummies”, making hundreds of people who have died on the Mumbai railway tracks look like idiots.
In the end, everybody is bruised and beaten up (including the audience). (Well, except Akshaye Khanna who gets left out again!) There is nothing exceptional and with the recent spate of Hindi movies based in villages and tackling social issues, this is just one more to the list.