Saturday, September 3, 2016

Akira Movie Review

Problem Child 
Director: A. R. Murugadoss
Actors: Sonakshi Sinha, Anurag Kashyap, Konkona Sensharma

One of the major aspects of commercial films is that they are aspirational in nature. Which is why they are commercial, at first place. They sell dreams or unrealities that don’t exist or you wish they exist off screen, outside the dark theatre. You love the hero bashing up villains on screen, delivering instant justice. He is your hero, you aspire to be him. Akira twists a few conventions here: first, Sonakshi Sinha, a female, is your hero; second, it doesn’t promise you to sell dreams, it is so constricted by realities that you feel the film is compromising of being a commercial masala film. But the latter un-convention is informed by the former one and, if you see the point, it works.

Akira was raised as a fighter by her father (Atul Kulkarni) right from her childhood (Mishiekka Arora, fine find – she does look like young Sonakshi) in the small town of Jaipur. She delivers justice, almost instantly, and establishes herself as the hero of the film. But the world has always been unfair to her. After serving three years in remand home, she comes out as a recluse rather than a raging problem child of the ‘70s masala. But she becomes a problem child – first for the system, then for the family – after she is reluctantly moved to a bigger city, Mumbai – hinting that she is meant for bigger fights, graver world. Her bigger-fight-affinity is nicely developed in two similar scenes where she is seen to be the last one to sit in the classroom as a refusal to participate in the protest for trivial canteen-food issues but also the last one to sit on the road protesting for a genuine cause against the policemen.

The main plot of the film comes rather offhanded. Akira has nothing to do with it, literally. She gets entangled into it without even knowing what she is into. The story is more like a thriller but Murugadoss brews it into his world, with his stamp. There are massy moments. There are extremely good-natured characters you would empathize with (including Akira, of course) like in a melodrama. Then there are massy moments coming from and involving these good-hearted characters. Anurag Kashyap, the enfant terrible and problem child of the indie films, plays the pot-smoking, hedonist villain in this masala. His writer-backed character has a blunt mouth causing for few guffaws in the film but he is no Nana Patekar. Konkona Sensharma, at the other extreme of the police system, plays the Fargo-inspired, well-meaning, pregnant cop, and the other female in this film who has to compromise to the system.

Akira can be a character study. When she did the right thing, she was wronged by the law. When she did nothing, she was again wronged by the system. Of course, no character can be as black-and-white as right-and-wrong but reading into her would tell you what is wrong with the society. Interference of the world in her life is so scathing that it has left her being misunderstood by her own family. In a scene, Anurag Kashyap is in a room with a sex-worker (another wronged female in the film) and there are posters of films like Sujata, Pakeezah, Dirty Picture and Kashyap’s own Dev D on the wall. Women in all these films were looked down upon by the society. Akira could, well, might end up on the same wall.

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