In one of the rare good scenes that Akira has, Sonakshi Sinha, looking timid enough, is crouching in a corner, in pretence to protect herself from the gang of college rowdies ready to tame her. When confronted and mocked for her mousiness, she begs to be left alone, lest she would end up beating them black and blue and landing herself in trouble again! If only the entire film had the strength, sarcasm, and spirit displayed in this single scene, Akira would have been worth it.
But sadly, it fails, and miserably so.
Consider the timing of the film. First you have the Olympic Games where Indian women display their mettle putting patriarchy to shame. And then in a landmark ruling the Bombay High Court allows women to enter the inner sanctum of Haji Ali Dargah. The climate was just right for a right film on women’s issues, with a ‘shero’! But the film instead of breaking stereotypes reinforces them.
The problem starts right at the onset. You have Akira, a girl who has been taught karate instead of Kathak and believes strength lies in being physically powerful and hence goes about breaking bones of whoever messes with her. To solve the world’s problems with muscle power is a typical bollywood tenet, also used extensively in South Indian cinema, the fraternity to which Akira filmmaker AR Murugadoss belongs. This is still forgivable! Because we as fun loving audiences have cheered hundreds of such films where a single punch of the hero will have the baddies flying in air and he would single-handedly save the ‘damsel-in-distress’! No logic, no emotion, pure fun! But here, not just her family but Akira herself seems to have a problem with her I-will-kill-you-if-you-mess-with-me attitude, in turn creating a problem for any thinking audience to like this. It is not ‘feminine’ enough, hence needs to be corrected. So, her family sends her to study in Mumbai in the hope that it will calm her down. And Akira throughout looks pained and troubled with her ‘violent past’ and takes enough ‘corrective measures’; not reacting to the teasing of her hostel mates to the extent possible, trying not to trouble the family, going about her business in a silent way, focusing on her studies, doing some ‘social work’ with deaf and dumb children, etc.
Now comes the more filmy part of the disaster. Akira isn’t hero enough unless she’s had a face-off with obviously a bunch of male offenders, here led by Anurag Kashyap who plays a corrupt ACP amazingly well. And then there’s a heavily pregnant, upright and brave officer played by Konkana Sen Sharma, possibly to add to the ‘woman power’ angle of the film. But the actor looks disinterested in the film, and her poorly crafted character does not seem to go anywhere. Much to our dismay, the film even tries to draw a parallel with Jesus, where Akira ‘sacrifices’ herself to save the nation from probable communal violence! Like really?
It’s indeed refreshing to have a woman instead of a man going dishoom dishoom in mainstream Bollywood style. But then that’s that. The lacklustre premise, one too many logical lapses, and disjointed narration don’t help the cause much.
If you’ve been hurt by Rustom and almost killed by Mohenjo Daro, then Akira is only going to rub salt into your wounds!
Contributed by Supriya Baid
The writer is an advertising professional, a trained Odissi dancer, a stage anchor and a former Radio Jockey from Kolkata. Juggling with multiple fields of creativity, she loves to express on social-cultural-psychological subjects, sometimes on stage, sometimes on paper.