Ajay Devgn said in a recent interview that Priyadarshan should stop making comedies. Well, looking at Priyadarshan's recent comedies (KHATTA MEETHA, DE DANA DAN) and now that he's made AAKROSH, we can't agree more with Ajay.
Call it coincidence but 2010 has seen hordes of films based in the interiors of India. After ISHQIYA, PEEPLI [LIVE], ANTARDWAND and DABANGG, AAKROSH is yet another film set in small town India. It's a complex but compelling narrative set around the issue of honour killings. Director Priyadarshan handles the subject proficiently, without compromising on the entertainment quotient. There's never a dull moment and the entire narrative keeps one riveted. Take off your eyes and there are chances you'll be discombobulated.
Three friends from Delhi go missing in a small village - Jhanjhar, in Bihar. It's three months and there is no clue about their disappearance. The media and students movement demand action from the authorities. It's then that the government orders a CBI enquiry with officers Sidhant Chaturvedi (Akshaye Khanna) and Pratap Kumar (Ajay Devgn) to solve the case. They find it difficult to solve the case as the local police and other authorities are a part of Shool Sena, which is responsible for illicit activities. Sidhant and Pratap also face Ajatshatru Singh (Paresh Rawal), a ruthless police officer who misuses his power. Not only that even the locals don't support the investigation. It's with the help of Roshni, (Amita Pathak) who's the daughter of a rich and powerful villager, and Getta (Bipasha Basu), who's Aiatshatru's wife and Pratap's former love, that the investigation moves ahead. A bewildering turn of events ensues.
Priyadarshan takes his time to build the story in the first half, which is comparatively slow paced. Once that is done, you find yourself gripped. The inexorable and brooding story-telling pattern is replete with twists. The issue of honour killings is used as a backdrop, in this high octane action thriller. Mind you, the action does get gory.
Moving on, great attention is paid to details. The placards by the local villagers have 'We want justis' written on them to look real. Even the milieu is perfect making you feel a part of the proceedings.
Some poignant scenes like the way the judge passes a hurried judgment as he feels claustrophobic, make you cringe. The scene in which Ajatshatru Singh listens to cricket commentary while Sachin Tendulkar is batting in his 90s deserves special mention.
Arun Kumar's editing is decent but the first half could have been pruned for a much better impact. The couple of songs are a deterrent. Tirru's choreography is appealing, with some brilliant shots. Dialogues by Aditya Dhar are impactful. There's nothing great about Pritam's music.
Ajay Devgn gives a superb performance. He has an inimitable panache, which is amazing. There's something between him and trains. After ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI, there's yet another train sequence featuring him in AAKROSH. While the former was deftly done, the later appears farcical. Akshaye Khanna is impressive. After DEEWANGEE, the chemistry between Ajay and Akshaye clicks even in AAKROSH. Paresh Rawal is outstanding. He's so good in his bad avatar that you are full of disdain each time he appears on screen. Amita Pathak is good. Bipasha Basu is miscast. It's difficult to imagine her as a tormented wife. Her two phases have a very stark contrast. Sameera Reddy is passable in the item number.
AAKROSH is a spellbinding action thriller. After watching it you'll feel exhausted, but in a good way.