The name of A.R. Murugadoss's latest flick might remind you of the legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. But the similarity with the filmmaker, who is known for his subtlety, ends there. Subtlety is a craft that isn't taught at Murugadoss's School of Filmmaking, which has produced (rather, remade) entertainers like Ghajini and Holiday.
So, quite early in the film—a remake of 2011 Tamil film Mouna Guru—we have a heart-rending scene of an acid attack victim (remember the scene from Ghajini where the actors are bludgeoned with a wrench?). It also turns out to be the reason why Akira (Sonakshi Sinha) is what Akira is—a kickass young woman who stands up to wrongs in the society.
Egged on by her father (Atul Kulkarni in a guest appearance), Akira, as an 11-year-old, takes up martial arts instead of dance classes. But, as fate would have it, she ends up in a remand home.
With a haunting past, Akira arrives in Mumbai from Jodhpur for higher studies, and soon shows the college baddies their rightful place. Stunt director 'ANL' Arasu and Sinha deserve a special mention here. Though we know that in half of the frames, it's not the actor who is performing the stunts, Sinha gets her kicks and chops right when it matters. The fights look realistic enough—no flying-against-gravity bodies and logic-defying falls. Full marks to Sinha for looking and playing her part convincingly.
Akira, meanwhile, unwittingly gets embroiled in a vicious cycle of cash, deceit and murder, which has ACP Govind Rane (Anurag Kashyap, you beauty!) and his three cronies at the centre. Kashyap plays the typical sleazy and corrupt cop high on power and pot, effortlessly, without trying to be too villainy. Much like his films, the director-turned-actor has put in a realistic performance, which holds its own in the female-centric film.
If Kashyap is the bad cop, there's a good cop, too—Rabia (Konkona Sensharma)—who is also the narrator. The honest and heavily pregnant Crime Branch SP (how would it have mattered if she wasn't, we wonder, but that's for writers Kumar Santha and Murugadoss to answer) unravels the case involving Kashyap and the others and nails them, but her hands are tied. Sensharma almost sleepwalks through the role and seems detached enough for a police officer who has other things, too, on her mind—like the baby.
The plotholes and unbelievable coincidences ruin what could have been a powerful film. There is no novelty in the theme—a person standing up for what is right—nor in its execution. Also, the characterisation and screenplay are so weak that talented actors like Amit Sadh, Atul Kulkarni and Smita Jaykar are left with nothing much to do.
The film attempts to break gender stereotypes and, in the process, falls into the same trap as many other films in the same genre have—reinforce it even more strongly. It effectively ends up as yet another wannabe 'mass' film with a female lead, for a change.
So, while Akira fights tooth and nail, enduring torture and humiliation, in the pursuit of justice, she finally has to sacrifice herself for the common good. The “common good” is so weird, that you wonder whether the scriptwriters were high on the same pot that Rane was smoking.
Towards the end, the frame freezes on a cross with Jesus nailed to it, hinting at Akira's sacrifice being similar to His. And in case anyone in the audience didn't get it, Akira explains how she had to sacrifice her happiness for others. Sigh. Looks like the Messiah has a new name. Akira. Akira Sharma from Jodhpur. God save us and the film.
Director: A.R. Murugadoss
Cast: Sonakshi Sinha, Anurag Kashyap, Konkona Sensharma, Amit Sadh