Akira

Akira Poster

Akira
Release date: September 2, 2016
Directed by: AR Murugadoss
Cast: Sonakshi Sinha, Anurag Kashyap, Konkona Sen Sharma, Ankita Bhargava, Nandu Madhav, Amit Sadh

AR Murugadoss has a reputation for rehashing South Indian blockbusters and infusing them with bone-shattering violence and a few metal rods scattered here and there, for the ease of more, right, violence! Akira, surprisingly, isn’t as loaded on the pow-wow where it could potentially render you indifferent to the proceedings on screen.

For its run-time of 138 minutes, the film crams in a lot of contrivances, themes, and not many didactic messages. Akira, the character’s exposition is laced with a strong little social commentary. The young girl in Jodhpur is enrolled in a martial arts class by her father and a very formative situation leads her to being locked up in the remand home. There’s tremendous scope of using this detail into something bigger for when she grows up, but then the makers choose to fly by all of it in a song sequence. Fortunately, the only song sequence of the film.

Post her return and acquittal, the adult Akira (Sonakshi Sinha) doesn’t face any major social stigma or ostracization. Her family thinks that they are transporting her to Mumbai for her greater good, and maybe, she will have more options in education. Akira is smarter than that. She knows better, yet she relents.

In Mumbai, ACP Rane (Anurag Kashyap) rolls a censored object in a police vehicle, while his subordinates look on, scared for their lives as he insists on driving the car and pulling off a stunt. Rane is the perfect antagonist for any and every protagonist. He is vicious, corrupt, cunning, and sadistically enjoyable to watch. A few hundred things and some terribly grating scenes later, Akira and Rane end up crossing paths and here begins an elaborate attempt to eliminate her.

The deck is heavily stacked against Akira, who, to her credit, never goes soft. Even when her horribly naive family believes a theory concocted by Rane’s men. If there’s ever an sequel to this, please make her abandon them. Rabiya (Konkona Sen Sharma) is a tepid implicit supporting character to Akira’s struggles. She labors her way through a pregnancy and acts all alone to investigate the film’s highlight case.

Did I mention there are a few more badly shot sequences inside a completely caricaturish mental asylum?

To the film’s credit, Akira’s character is never held as a damsel in distress, and never are her combat skills disregarded. In a slightly humorous moment, she even indulges herself in a little humble-brag while beating up chumps in a cafe. The action choreography, and her movements, on the other hand, aren’t as polished as one would expect from an out-and-out action film specialist. Sonakshi is given little range to play around with her facials, as her character remains majorly reticent and brooding in the second half.

Then there are the convenient logical flaws with the story which don’t hurt the plot much, but make it harder to invest thoroughly into the film. At the same time, the film doesn’t try to tick all the boxes of a commercial entertainer, wherein it doesn’t bother to append a mandatory love interest or deviates to a course that completely appears out of place.

Akira isn’t a film about women empowerment or a lesson in equality for female lead characters in Hindi cinema. But the fact that all of its focal story points are women: be it the girl who gets acid thrown in her face by an obnoxiously self-entitled jilted stalker, the girl who Rane exploits, the altruistic Rabiya’s earnest will or even the poorly dubbed transgendered sidekick at the asylum; the issues that these women face, and the strength which they depict and act with, makes it an important and a fairly entertaining watch.

My rating: **1/2 (2.5 out of 5)

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