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Filmmaking is not only about making a good product. It’s about releasing a movie when the time is right and promoting it while keeping the theme in mind. That’s where Aakrosh falters. Don’t get us wrong. It is a good product. But the festive season is just not the time to release an issue-based, hardhitting movie. Alas, this will dampen its prospects.

Aakrosh keeps you on edge and definitely makes you think. The Hindi film-ishtyle has been woven in beautifully and it makes that all-important connect. The film, till the interval at least, reminds you of the 1964 release, Mississippi Burning, and you faintly wonder if it’s a rehash. But this is not the first time a film has been made on honour killings in India.

The good thing is that instead of dealing with multiple sub-plots, this movie focuses only on one incident. The film moves slowly and just when you wish it would speed up, the next scene makes an impact.

Strikingly similar to Mississippi Burning, two policemen with different styles of functioning arrive in a village. They are there to investigate a lower-caste man gone missing, who along with two friends had set off for his hometown Jhanjhar.

The investigation takes a U-turn when the police realise that everyone in the village is involved with the case, one way or another. But the local police refuse to cooperate. The officers’ presence ruffles the villagers and soon, the investigation sparks riots in Jhanjhar, where upper-caste villagers go on a killing spree. How the two police officers resolve the issue forms the crux of the film.

As mentioned earlier, the pace is definitely a drawback. Also, the writers have not done their homework thoroughly. The narrative starts through paper clippings you’re introduced to the mayhem happening in the rural areas but the proceedings, at times, fail to touch your soul.

For instance, the sequence where the old man blames Ajay and Akshaye for the killing spree is provocative. But the writers should have inked in more drama from the poor people, which would have
enhanced the impact of the scene. Also, the sequence where the village is burning could have had more heartrending scenes.

The plight of the lower caste villagers is conveyed through Ajay Devgn but it could have been communicated more effectively through the people themselves. Their sorrow would have had left a greater impact. In the second half, the poor people suddenly decide to protest. But against what? Just as inexplicably, they suddenly fall silent. The media is roughed up outside the inquiry area and the police do nothing. But why are Akshaye and Ajay mere spectators? Why don’t these two law-abiding citizens react?

Two of the murder victims are sons of high-profile residents from Delhi who do nothing to determine their sons’ whereabouts. Also, the central government gets into the act only after the students’ protest. Why? There are too many questions left unanswered. Too many goons in the film also confuses the
audience. And a senior police officer at the police station behaves as if Paresh Rawal (his junior) is his boss. Just as too many cooks spoil the broth, too many villains can spoil a film!

But the movie does have its moments. The chemistry between Ajay and Akshaye is the major highlight. Their body language and the way they communicate through expressions rather than words is superb. The chase sequence between Ajay on rooftops is mind-blowing as is the chase between the goons and Akshaye and Ajay, where the latter is standing on a car while the other one is driving. Handled beautifully. The dialogue (Aditya Dhar), in places, instantly clicks with everyone, including the masses. And the divide-and-rule formula, which Ajay Devgn comes up, may not be new but it’s executed very well.

Priyadarshan, once known for making hard-hitting films, is back with the same genre and he seems to be in form. But one wishes he had asked his writers (Akash Khurana and Robin Bhatt) to do some more research. Cinematography (Thiru S) is superb. Pritam’s music is all right. The item song filmed on Sameera Reddy fails to impress.

Performance-wise, it’s difficult to judge who’s better. Ajay Devgn and Akshaye Khanna are in full form. Ajay, as always, prefers to let his body language do the talking and is brilliant. Akshaye excels after a long time.

Bipasha Basu doesn’t have a meaty role but does justice to her character. Paresh Rawal is in his element. Reema Sen is excellent. Amita Pathak is so-so. Others lend adequate support.

Verdict: A thought-provoking film but the timing of the release will go against its box office fate. It hasn’t taken a fantastic opening and wordof- mouth will be its saving grace.

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