AKIRA (2016)

akira-2Akira is A.R Murugadoss’ latest offering and stars Sonakshi Sinha as the titular character. The film happens to be a remake of a Tamil film which I haven’t seen and would not be able to comment on. Akira was marketed as a kickass action film which has Sonakshi throwing more punches than Bruce Willis did in the Die Hard films. Thankfully that’s not true and that is exactly why I liked this film. It is safe to say that the trailer is a sum total of all the action sequences of the film and hardly gives you an insight into what the film is really about. Let’s dwell deeper into the pros and cons of this film and as we do it let us also try to find out why this film isn’t as much of a wish fulfillment as it should have been.

Akira as a young girl witnesses an acid attack on a beautiful girl that turns her grotesquely akira-1disfigured. She is the only witness to the incident and when she identifies the culprits, she faces their ire. He father decides to train her in martial arts and make her self-sufficient to at least protect herself. Akira takes to martial arts as if her life depended on it and within minutes becomes so powerful that she beats up the guys who wronged that girl and also smears acid on one of their faces. She faces a 3-year long case to prove her innocence and has to spend the duration in children remand home.

This portion of the film, though appealing and relevant is probably the weakest. The reason for it is the half-hearted physicality that the child artist playing Akira’s younger self-brings to it. She doesn’t look the part. It never for a second feels that she can beat up those guys so comfortably and the manner in which she moves makes it look very amateurish. She is good in her expressions and but not so much in the action sequences. The fact that her father, played by Atul Kulkarni, coolly watches as she takes up such risks is another dampener. The man shows no tension which really renders the whole scene unbelievable. The cinematography doesn’t help either. When the guy has acid smeared on his face, Akira’s hand is in the line of the spill. Yet somehow she doesn’t get a drop of acid on her hands while the boy is burnt.

akira-4Akira grows up to be Sonakshi Sinha who has forcefully calmed herself down. She is studying in a college and lives with her mom. Her brother who had married and left with his wife for Mumbai comes back to take back her mother and Akira to Mumbai. She unwillingly agrees to her brother’s plea and arrives at Mumbai. Studying in the Holycross College she immediately starts getting heat from her seniors who don’t actually appreciate her free-spirited attitude. In the meanwhile, a corrupt police officer played by Anurag Kashyap lands his hands on a huge sum of money lying in the trunk of a car that met with an accident in his presence. He kills the survivor of the accident and takes the money dividing it among his three other compatriots. However, he makes a mistake talking about it on the phone in his keep’s house who films the whole thing in her camera.

The camera is then stolen from her by a student of the Holycross College who then starts blackmailing the cop. On a fateful night, when there is no one else in the hostel, Akira comes back to find a bag full of stolen items from the hostel girls in her room along with the Handycam  which  has the tape of the cop. Before she can react, two cops arrive and arrest her. On the orders of Kashyap’s character, they take her along with two others to kill her off. When they are about to pull the trigger, they realize that they had picked up the wrong girl. Situations swivels in such ways that they are forced to put Akira in a mental institution sighting the fact that she was insane. No one believes her and she is left to find a way out of the mess on her own. She has helped only from another fellow inmate.

The second act of the film is the buildup. It’s thrilling and as the story progressed I couldn’t akira-2actually see which way it was headed. I couldn’t predict how they would put the character of Akira in the midst of the mayhem. In the end how they did it was superb and totally believable. Anurag Kashyap is not only a great director but a stupendous actor. Here he single-handedly pulls the sequences that he is in with such style and swagger that you are hooked to his essay. His character is believable and hateable and I cannot praise enough of it.  One aspect of the character that went really well was the confusion and idiocrasy that it had associated with it. He may be a cop but he was vulnerable and made mistakes. He tried to cover his mistakes with acts that resulted in another mistake. His team members soon grew tired of him and that resulted in some more interesting drama. Konkana Sen Sharma plays the cop who is investigating the murder of Kashyap’s keep who he had killed in a fit of rage. As she gets closer and closer to the real culprit, Kashyap, and his men become more and more vulnerable. It’s thrilling to watch how the story progresses.

However, all the wonderful buildup in the second act really fizzles out to a large extent in the third act. I was really looking forwards to Akira going all Yakuza on the cops but what we get instead is a petered out and somewhat censor board instructed redemption which really doesn’t satisfy out appetite. The action is limited, the cops remain on top for most of the while and a knife in the butt is hardly punishment enough for all that they did. Konkana Sen Sharma’s character also proves to be strangely meek in the last act and I terribly missed some serious fireworks especially on the cops. Having said that, the escape from the Mental Institution is filmed with finesse. It’s very stylized with a great background score that would give you goosebumps.

akira-1Akira is by far, Sonakshi Sinha’s best film till date after Lootera. She can really act and the problem is she is constantly given below par roles. This here is a character that had a lot of meat and purpose and she does exceedingly well to bring it to life. She also has the kind of physicality that is required to render a part like this believable.  She looks crisp in the action sequences and does exceedingly well in the dramatic moments. It’s her and Anurag Kashyap’s performances that catapult the film to a much higher level. Technically speaking the cinematography, editing and background score are in keeping with the mood and feel of the narrative. The stunt choreography and editing deserve special kudos. I only wish there was more of it. Overall, Akira is a thrilling watch in parts. Some minor tweaks in the first act and a more “all-guns-blazing” finale would have made this film great. Still, Akira is a very worthy watch.

Rating: 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5 Stars)


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