Movie Review: Akira is mixed Murga Dosa – fiesty, brave but excess subplots

Akira kicks off a grand September 2016 for Bollywood. The coming weekends have a strong lineup of promising films – Freaky Ali, Pink, Baar Baar Dekho and MS Dhoni: The Untold story. In my Killer Trailer preview of Akira I had hopes on it to be a sure-fire winner with a difference. But did Akira fulfill its promise?

Production values

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Co-Produced by Fox Studios, Akira scores very high on cinematography and actions scenes. We don’t know how much the leading lady, Sonakshi Sinha, kicked ass; but for sure the end product and effects look sharp and good. Full marks for that.

Anurag Kashyap is brilliant

Director (also writer, co producer and screen play) AR Murugadoss has got an ensemble of fine actors, each delivering good to solid performances. Anurag Kashyap as the coke smoking corrupt police officer stays in the mind much beyond the movie. On a routine accident investigation, he stumbles on a stash of 80 crore rupees, as his inner evil takes over. 

He joins hands with three corrupt colleagues but when Akira gets involved in this matter (by accident), they have their hands full. Anurag is menacing, eyes and expressions all evil (watch him ogle at pregnant Konkona), gets the best lines (“Upar se mujhe Nashik jaana hai home minister ke saath dimaag ka dahi karane’) and you wish to see more of him. In Akira, and other movies.

Refreshing to see Konkona

Aside, Anurag, Konkona Sen Sharma as a pregnant cop stands out. It’s a delight to see her on-screen every time, as the investigative officer trying to find the truth. She showcases how sincerity in work, despite limitations, can make police extremely efficient. As her bump increases (Well done director for the details), she still moves around and good enough to find couple of guys faster than the corrupt Kashyap team. It’s a shame that Murugadoss doesn’t exploit Konkona and Anurag with meatier role and more depth. 

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Sonakshi all Khaamosh all action Sinha

However, the best thing about Akira would be making it a female fire power story. The 137 min long flick is remake of a Tamil thriller ‘Mouna Guru’ but Murugadoss took the brave step of ensuring the script changed to a Sinha kicking around than a Khan or a Kumar. Incidentally, Murugadoss has scored blockbuster Bollywood action hits with Khan (Ghajini) and Kumar (Holiday), but decided to swim against the tide this time. Sonakshi’s character ‘Akira’ (meaning graceful strength) has a mean look, street smart approach and she never, never gives up a fight. Hurt, sedated or drowsy, she won’t ever give up; won’t tolerate nonsense. You would want your daughter to have this level of grit. Kudos to Murugadoss for that

Starting from her first fight (as a child) against acid throwers, Sonakshi does a lot to shed her otherwise middle class bimbette role typecast – Dabangg, Rowdy Rathore, R…Rajkumar etc. She and Anurag light up the gripping first half.

Director’s dilemma – Make iconic or keep adding masala

As good as Akira is torpedoed by a brilliant and pacy first half; it’s chugged and pulled by excess subplots in second half. Murugadoss’s penchant for showing his leading lady attached to needy kids (remember Asin in Ghajini) or the standard 80s fare of college hooliganism, a needless college thief, a routine mental asylum sequence, bullets finishing off when needed most, sedated heroine unbelievably hitting hard and some conveniently left loose ends (original accident case is forgotten, climax twist is ridiculous), pulls down the film in second half. 

I can understand the need for any good film to go masala – a brilliant Budhia Singh movie recently became a major flop. But when your formula is guaranteed to record low revenues, the need for forced masala looks absurd. Hence Murugadoss (and other Indian directors) would do better to  stick to what their heart demands, than fall for the need to make masala. The day he cast a heroine oriented kick ass movie, the cash register was bound to perform with limitations. 

Instead, like in the brilliant ‘Ek Haseena Thi’, had Murugadoss invested in a simpler story but more detailing (investigative parts, how Sonakshi catches/finishes off each of her rivals), it would have ended a better masala dosa or a better murga curry; not the average masala Murga Dosa we got from Murugadoss!

Bollywood’s female dominated movies

In Bollywood’s history barring Queen, Tanu weds Manu, Kahaani, Mary Kom, Dirty Picture and English Vinglish, no other female dominated movie (sans big male stars) has got box office abuzz.

Yes, had Akira been a perfect movie, it would have been type casted as ‘art house’ and get limited viewership. Singapore friday first day first show barely had 30% hall full as Indians generally prefer star studded masala as their entertainment diet. Akira is a shade better than Dishoom, Rustom or Mohenjodaro, but would be lucky to get even a fraction of their revenues. Had the movie been perfectly made, then too.

This movie is more on the N Chandra’s 1987 classic Pratighaat, Tanuja Chandra’s 1998 Dushman and Pradeep Sarkar’s 2014 Mardaani mould; than ones on female action leads you would saw lately – NH10, Jai Gangajal or Revolver Rani. However the former three mentioned (and NH10) will stay in the minds long for its quality. Akira’s recall value has been let down by the need to go over cooked and lacklustre second half.

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Rating: 3.25/5 (One time watch, for Sonakshi, Anurag and women power)

Box Office Prediction: With a steep 28 crore budget, Akira will have major challenges in breaking even. Word of mouth and prayers is still its best bet, but likely will end up a big flop. Murugadoss would be the main culprit for this and may just feel better eating a good simple Masala Dosa instead.

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