Friday, October 15, 2010


Burning Plains

Aakrosh may not be a typical Priyadarshan film, since the director is now associated with comedy—but it looks like so many of his films. Set in a North Indian town, but obviously shot in the South, this brazen lift of the powerful Mississippi Burning, easily substitutes Dalit-Thakur clashes for Black vs White in 1960s America; the Ku Klux Klan is  turned into Shool Sena, and voila, the story is Indianised.

Ajay Devgan and Akshaye Khanna play CBI investigators who come to a dusty town called Jhanjhar to probe the disappearance of three boys, and encounter walls of hostile silence. The local cops led by the brutal and corrupt Ajatshatru (Paresh Rawal) are hand-in-gloves with the upper caste families and treat the lower castes with contempt.

The key to the case lies with a Thakur girl (Amrita Pathak)  and the cop’s wife (Bipasha Basu), who are scared silent.  The presence of the cops triggers off caste wars, and, as a senior cop says, the investigation of the three boys leads to over 300 deaths.

One can only imagine a superior film in the hands of Prakash Jha who would understand the caste dynamics, lethargy and corruption in a north Indian town,  Priyadarshan is clearly more interested in the elaborately staged action—a long chase, very well shot by Tirru S, ends in the death of a minor character; another imaginative sequence of the two cops chasing a jeep via its dust trail is exciting, but as pointless.

The film with its sluggish pace and no nerve-stretching tension between the cops who belong to disparate worlds, remains at a superficial level, and dull as the dusty plains of the location. Ajay Devgan does not display his usual intensity, and Akshaye Khanna ends up making faces under a bad wig.

An item song and a glam flashback of the sari-clad, glum Bipasha Basu are inserted, but to no avail.  Priyadarshan really needs to give himself and his audiences a break from his plagiarized offerings.


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