Priyadarshan has a flair for serious drama and he does them well too. Everytime he takes a break from his comic capers, and comes up with a drama, he does not produce shit for sure. Aakrosh is one of those movies which would go un-noticed due to its non-appealing starcast, insufficient publicity and not a very strategic timing. Nevertheless, Aakrosh should not be missed as it is authentically a gripping drama and has ample 'hold-your-seat' moments backed by legitimate performances by almost the whole cast. The storyline is right on target but credit for that must go to 'Mississippi Burning', the Oscar-nominated 1988 film by Alan Parker, from which this film borrows heavily and gets everything to an Indian setting.
Shameful as it may sound, honour killings still exist in many parts of the country. The misconception is honour killings are all about the murder of a female family member by one or more family members, since the perpetrators / wrongdoers believe that the victim has brought dishonor / disrepute upon the family by having a relationship with a man of different religion or social status or marrying against the parents' wishes or having premarital sex. The fact is men are also victims of this practice, especially when it affects the reputation of a particular caste and community. Many grooms have been killed by the father or brother of the bride and this is exactly what AAKROSH attempts to highlight. Aakrosh has many gripping moments and Priyan Sir manages to pull them off with a lot of aplomb. Note the chase sequences, all of them are brilliantly done, the sequence right after the fire in the village, the sequence at the police station, the sequence at Paresh Rawals residence or the finale. There is a romantic story between Ajay and Bipasha but that is more of a subplot and is better kept like that. There's also a thrilling car-chase scene in which Devgan, perched on the top of a speeding jeep, leads his partner through a dense forest, in pursuit of a car ahead. Such scenes really get your adrenaline high and get you involved with the characters.
Aakrosh is a hard-hitting drama and has a non-compromising approach which might not go down well with all kinds of audiences. Some of the killings are brutal and dark and could make you uncomfortable. But 'Aakrosh', like 'Missippi Burning', is about the land it's set in, and the people of that land. Replace the racial conflict of the original film with a caste conflict, and the stage is set for a violent tale of privileged Brahmins and the victims of their oppression, the Dalits. It's hard not to be moved by the gruesome attacks on innocent townsfolk, although the director steals even those scenes to the last detail. Bad music, not a great cinematography, a longer than usual length and lyrical dialogues are some other shortcomings for this fare. Aakrosh's content matter has its limitations too.
What works well for Aakrosh is its performances, the issue-based content and its direction. Ajay Devgn and Paresh Rawal are on top. Akshaye Khanna is not far behind. All three of them deliver mindblowing performances and carry the movie forward on their shoulders. Rawal needs a special mention here because he shows his versatility as an actor who can get into the skin of any character with an amazing ease. Devgn and Khanna exhibit superb understanding and deliver clap-worthy performances. Bipasha is efficient in a small role and lives it up. All other remaining actors perform their parts well too. Despite all the plusses, Aakrosh has two major things that would work against it. It does not have a pan-india appeal and is only going to magnetize the thinking audience. Secondly, a lot of issue based films have followed the same discourse with a similar conclusion on different social issues and Aakrosh fails to do something new, not that there is much scope to do new also.
Watch it if you like sensible cinema!
Rating - 3/5