First of all, I’d be lying if I say that I didn’t like this movie. I am a much worse liar if I write anything negative about Akira as a character. After ranting, all these years, about the lack of female subjective figures and woman-centric films in Bollywood, a film like Akira is indeed a result of all that. After playing love interests and ornamental roles in hypermasculine themed films, Sonakshi finally delivered a film which (indirectly) represents her proto-feminist personality as a celebrity. Akira is simply a desire, what every woman wishes, i.e. to be strong in the face adversity apart from the general notion where girls are taught that they are physically weaker and therefore, should depend on a man. I am told this, a lot, by women. Nothing is more infuriating than that.
Akira was raised by a loving and caring father. Her circumstances change after she witnesses a brutal acid attack, where two guys attacked a woman. She was permanently disfigured and Akira speaks up to the police. She was threatened by the goons, after which her father inspires her and teaches Karate and judo. Akira confronts the goons one day and one of them try to attack her with acid but it backfires. She is falsely accused of attacking him and is put in the remand home for three years. I remember watching this sequence as one of the previews of this film. This scenario disturbed me so much that I couldn’t sleep for many days. The whole idea related to men attacking random women with acid disturbed me a lot. Not to mention, many acid attack cases are prevalent where women, men, and children are harassed and scarred for life. Rejected lovers do it, jealous people do it, men whose ego is hurt do it with no second thoughts and rich and the powerful use it as a tool to silence the witnesses. Now, this beginning was all about establishing Akira’s warrior and feisty nature but then the acid attack part is completely replaced by corrupt officers and bullies in college. It was a huge jerk in the plot line. Akira is an unintentional social hero.
A.R Murugadoss probably wanted to redeem the depiction of women in Ghajini where Chitra was reduced to a twerking striptease figure and Kalpana had to be taken out of the equation for her heroic deeds so that the man could take over. Akira does everything from standing up for justice to being a sacrifice figure. There is final metaphor where she is shown as the “Christ” figure as she sacrifices herself to do all the “cleaning up”. Along with that, I liked several other symbolic moments, like presenting Lakshmi Rai’s character in a “red” background, she is a sex worker from “red-street”. During the protest scene, after hearing the gunshot, all the students run away except Akira. We see her stand up with the petition in her hand, symbolism right there. And, a pregnant woman is leading the investigation and she delivers the message to Akira so that the latter could fight back. All these moments excel but, the execution is where it went downhill.
The movie started with a pace and it drowns once Anurag Kashyap, with his cheeky red-eyed face, enters. His grin and half drunk attitude give away the total picture as the major anti-christ figure. Kashyap’s life and occurrences completely take over and we see Akira like a lightning in the rain. A movie about Akira should have more of Akira right? The one situation highlighted is how a girl bullied Akira when she disobeyed her strike. When Akira warns her not to, she gathers her male friends to teach her a lesson. A guy pulls out a knife to slit the heck out of her.
She beats them all and ironically, women didn’t dare to lay a finger on her and the main bully simply stood aside with a lifeless look in her eyes. In the entire film, only men fought her. Women are always taught to have men as their backup so, don’t expect them to try and punch a woman to could pull off a “leg-twist” lock and throw move. In spite of wearing a ring on her lips and torn jeans, the bully looked too timid to be believable. Casting went wrong there. Apart from the obvious look, Kashyap performance is overrated and this is more visible in the blood-curdling scream he gives out when was struck by the knife. Sonakshi completely changed her ornamental image to be THE woman, with strong physicality and the look which intimidates any bully who comes before her. She gave the look successfully, she was able to provide the perfect image for a strong willed woman. However, her emotional scenes and other situations looked undernourished and she simply didn’t provide the necessary flow. The situation where she taunts a corrupt police officer at gunpoint, for ruining her life, was soulless. It would have been plain if it wasn’t for the powerful dialogues. The transwoman who helped her in the mental asylum was interesting. Konkona Sen Sharma stuck to her standard but the narration gave away several situations before we had the chance the experience the anticipation.
The execution and improper development of the plot is where the film went wrong. A story about how a woman who gained justice in a hypermasculine environment was interesting, could have been better.