Akira tries to be a brave movie about strong women and empowerment etc. Or atleast that's the impression I got from the opening scenes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really come through on that promise. Its idea of showing woman power rests entirely on the heroine Akira bashing up everyone in sight when she is in trouble and not much beside.
The story starts of promisingly enough (I don’t know how many times I have written that sentence!). A young Akira identifies a man who throws acid on a woman and then her father encourages her to learn martial arts. She throws acid on another eve teaser in self- defense and gets sent to a Remand home for the act. She moves to Mumbai and takes on the college bullies. So far so good. After this the movie starts going into self-annihilation mode. Akira gets caught for no fault of hers in a scam run by 4 policemen. They get on her case and she has to try and escape from them multiple times. She is aided by a clever mentally deranged person from the metal hospital where she is kept sedated. There is also another powerful female character - a police inspector who tries to help her. The movie ends on a very tame and trite note that tells you the Director’s heart was not in the woman empowerment angle in the first place.
I have many issues with this movie. One, it uses very weak links to move the story forward. They seem contrived and lack conviction. That in my books is automatic death. Two, Akira has no real motive to fight except to survive. Her defining experience of helping an acid victim in her childhood has made her strong. If the story had made use of her strength to fight against some injustice, it would have given the character and it’s fight more conviction. Three, the end. She chooses to become a teacher tteaching Kabir dohas. What about if she had started a martial arts institute to teach self-defense? That was her main skill and the one that saved her ultimately but that is now pushed aside completely.
The movie is also full of old fashioned clichés that grate. The college bully is a girl with short hair, pierced lip and wears spaghetti tops. The mental asylum is full of people who talk to dolls and think green is red. All this is meant to be funny but just shows you a Director stuck in the Middle Ages. The worst is where they show the Psychiatrist who has certified Akira as ill, at home in his undies, drinking beer and watching Tom and Jerry. Murugadoss thought it probably a masterstroke of humour. It just made me want to kick him like Akira.
Sonakshi punches and kicks her way through the movie with abandon and a set expression on her face. She does ok though I would have liked to know what she was thinking once in a while which her stony expression doesn’t allow. Anurag Kashyap as the corrupt cop at the center of the robbery is super. He looks like he is enjoying himself. The other 3 cops who are his gang members are also pretty good. Konkona Sen Sharma as the honest cop sets her jaw at a determined angle to show us how no nonsense she is. But still her character is ok and remains a believable one. The rest of the cast is incidental.
The movie could have told a strong story of a woman who uses her strength and intelligence not just to get the better of her tormentors but also to fight for something bigger. But it fritters away the opportunity. The fights just get tiresome after a while in the absence of strong trajectories to take it forward. Watch it if you like Sonakshi and want to see her doing more than just bat her eyelids and look coy.