Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Aakrosh: Not really about honour killing
Use a ruler to draw a straight line. Then try to draw another straight line freehand. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you get it all wrong.
“Aakrosh” which has been ‘filmed’ by Priyadarshan gets it absolutely right, Bollywood style.
The straight line is the Hollywood movie “Mississippi Burning” which has been around for two decades.
The characters and some of the plot devices are the same.
If you have seen the Gene Hackman (Ajay Devgan) and Willem Dafoe (Akshaye Khanna) starrer you would know what happens next and who’s who.
My only issue is that the movie begins with some references to the spate of honour killings reported in the media.
But it is less about honour killings (the girl is unscathed) and more about out-and-out caste wars.
Two enforcers are sent to the badlands of the country, to bring justice and the law to the denizens gone wild.
The place of the killed civil rights activists is taken by three medical students killed at “Doodh Kuan” because one of them, a dalit, tries to elope with the daughter of the local feudal chieftain.
The Ku Klux Klan is transplanted in Bihar as the “Shool Sena” and the burning crosses are replaced by burning tridents.
“Aakrosh” follows how the course of justice is served by the slightly clueless yet committed and by-the-book CBI officer played by Akshaye Khanna and the decorated army officer and dalit Ajay Devgan on deputation to Khanna’s team.
The movie gets most things right, except the music which is passable and non-intrusive.
Sameera Reddy’s ‘item song’ is a tad anaemic after the ‘Munni badnaam’ act by Malaika Arora in “Dabangg”.
The landscape answers the demands of the plot creating the right atmosphere for the actors who deliver.
Ajay Devgan gets the best lines in the movie and by the time “Aakrosh” ends, Akshaye Khanna’s bespectacled character has totally bought into his style of law enforcement, charisma and Ray-Ban shades.
Devgan, like Gene Hackman, gets to hold the henchman’s privates and gets to give a close shave to the police chief.
But then Hackman doesn’t get to ride a Bolero’s roof like Devgan does here in a repeat of his “Phool aur Kaante” stunt, when he entered our lives standing astride two bikes.
Nor does Hackman get to romance and sing with Bipasha Basu who is Devgan’s ex-flame or to chase a murderer with very edge-of-the-seat Parkour stunts.
Paresh Rawal too is convincing as the violent husband (to Bipasha Basu) and scheming, casually brutal police chief, mouthing dirty words sotto voce.
The movie is a bit too long and fails Hitchcock’s bladder test but it is fast-paced, the violence escalates and then there is the familiarity of it all.
The ending may be too dramatic but reality is stranger than fiction.
The Haryana police runs safe houses for eloping couples and was reported as debating whether to charge them for their stay while on the run from violent relatives. Would it be simpler just to enforce the law?
It is slim, easy to read and it is about an honour killing.