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Okay, okay. Those of you who know me know I'm prone to hyperbole. You all know that, too. But I *just* finished watching the movie AKS, which just came out this week, on DVD and felt compelled to sit down and write about it. I would venture to say that this is possibly his most challenging role and phenomenal performance of his career (and yes I've seen DEEWAR, AGNEEPATH, and AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY). Amitabh is both diabolical and heroic. Suave, yet disturbed. He's a badass but also scared at the loss of control; all in the same film.
In short, except for maybe comedy, he displayed the full range of his acting talent in this one.
In addition to Amitabh's performance, I was fearful that this movie would suffer from the Phantom Menace Effect (i.e. big let down after enormous hype.) After all, I've been anxiously awaiting this movie for almost two months; especially after seeing it's preview site on the web two weeks ago. Yet despite the build up, this movie gripped me; right to the very end.
Probably because I've NEVER seen a Hindi movie like this before. I think this was Rakesh Mehra's debut film. And he threw out what your idea of a typical Hindi film is. Love songs through a field. *Dishum Dishum.* Hero and heroine walking off into the sunset after the bag guy goes to jail. This movie was as close to THAT as Dubya is to Humility
This movie was dark and ominous. It was sexy. It was supernatural. It was for the most part masterfully produced. Although there were a few technical special effects that were subpar (Bollywood still can't seem to get explosions right), the closest thing that I can compare this film to is FACE/OFF, crossed with a heavy dosage of the X-FILES and SEVEN and the original BATMAN with a sprinkle of MI:2 at the beginning. Heck, I think Nine Inch Nails should have done the soundtrack
I don't think I'd seen a Manoj Bajpai film before but his role became increasingly compelling as the movie wore on. Raveena was absolutely stunning. I believe she blazed new trails as far as Hindi film actresses go by playing a provocative stripper who chooses her path not out of `majboori,' but because that's who she is.
This movie is definitely NOT for everyone. I'm not even sure this what the initial reaction is in India...especially for those that WANT lubby/dubby cookie cutter stories with happy endings. But if you want something COMPLETELY different, You guys GOTTA check this movie out!
I think so..without misusing the term and feigning greatness, I'd like to say that it's really difficult for me to analyze Aks, with a completely objective mind. This is the film that I was willing to bet my life on, so to speak. This is the film that captured my imagination, right from the time when the first `kick-ass' trailer hit the net and this IS the film that I thought, could never go wrong. However, keeping in mind the fundamental prerequisite for writing a review, I'd like to be as honest as possible here. The Verdict: - As a fan and movie buff, I'd say I came out of the theater satiated.
Aks is a bold attempt, not seen before in Hindi cinema, in many ways. The cinematography for example, is not just eye-catching but bewitching, enthralling and spellbinding! No matter how hard you try, the striking visuals will engulf your mind for some time to come. The camera angles are normal but the filters employed, convey the message of the film clearly. The ubiquitous greenish tinge (perfectly seen in Raveena's dance numbers and Aa Ja Gufaaon Main Aa, more on that later) enforces the idea that we are watching a noir film. Major portions of the film have been shot in the dark, emphasizing the `mood and tone' of the film. To cut a long story short, this is the stuff, you normally see in a Hollywood film. I know a lot of people are not high on technical stuff but believe it or not, these delicate touches, serve to heighten up the overall effect of a scene. That is, if you guys are into the minute details that make cinema a worthwhile `experience' and not just a means to kill time!
The music again, is not the usual blend of romantic duets and `soft' hummable tunes that set the young heartbeats pumping (not that there's anything wrong with it), but is genuinely in sync with the requirements of the story. Gulzar's lyrics deserve a high round of applause, because they are highly symbolic and act as precursors to actual events in the film. For example: Aa Ja Gufaaon Main Aa, symbolizes Manu Verma's seduction and allurement into the dark vortex of evil so effectively, that one is bound to look beyond the scintillating visuals of this `bizarre' yet captivating dance number. Aa Ja Gufaaon Main Aa, suggests on a subliminal level that Manu Verma is being drawn towards the dark forces represented by a claustrophobic cave (traditionally darkness has been associated with evil and a cave exemplifies our deep-rooted fears associated with darkness). Aa Ja Gunaah Kar Le, needs no further comment but symbolically speaking, it epitomizes Manu Verma's defilement through a femme fatale. These are just my thoughts but I believe that they add up pretty well, in conjunction with the story.
The way I look at it, Aks is part philosophy and part mythology, with the philosophic content dominating the latter. The setup is new, the values in question are age-old and venerable and the battle. epic and everlasting. That's again breaking the norm as far as Bollywood is concerned. I have not seen a Hindi film where the villain openly challenges societal norms and asserts that society and Manu Verma in particular, needs him. `Take away all rules and regulations and every Manu Verma would end up becoming a Raghavan' is a radical and apocalyptic statement, which on face value sounds foreboding and true! Does that mean that Raghavan is committed to heinous crimes, because he wishes to stamp on everyone's mind that evil is prevalent everywhere and we can't do without it.. a la Seven? The crimes in Seven had a purpose behind them. They were meant to leave an impression on a dormant society and thanks to the media coverage allotted to acts of gore, they were meant to shake the average man's spinal chord and stir him up, from his state of apathy!
Maybe not, but that's another thing that's rare in Hindi films..the ability to make you think. Aks is open-ended because it's philosophical and since it's philosophical, it's open to interpretation. And there in, lies it's bane. I think, and I might be completely wrong but the general movie-going public is restless. Entertainment tops their priority list and if they are not entertained, they are quick to reject a film. Zubeida is a flop. Kagaz Ke Phool, which is now hailed as a classic was a mega flop. No one can doubt the quality of these films but in essence, they were not entertaining. They make for an interesting viewing ONLY if one prefers content, even at the cost of entertainment. At the cost of sounding extremely presumptuous, I'd say that the audience in India is still not cinematically educated. This is not just a local phenomenon but even here, if one looks closely, A. I. is a flop, while Scary Movie II has made truck loads of money. Pearl Harbor will end its run with a near $200 million collection in the USA alone. Never mind the reviews, which paint a very sorry picture of the movie on paper.
Having said that, Rakesh Mehra needs a lesson or two in direction. I think he has done a great job for his maiden venture but it appears in the end that he was in love with every single frame of the movie. As an ad director, he was quick to introduce shots replete with style and inventive imagery but why did he decide to overstate things? Manoj Bajpai's introduction for example, was a little drawn out and so were the scenes involving his brother Mahadevan. However I didn't have a problem with the now infamous `Na Koi Marta Hai.' dialogue. It's interesting to contrast Raghavan with Anthony Hopkins' mind-boggling performance as Hannibal Lectar in `Silence of the Lambs'. He embodied evil just by the look in his eye. Raghavan on the other hand, uses everything from his hissing laughter to his long hair and a few menacing lines to accentuate, the evil within. Highly distinct styles, but I'm not sure subtlety would have registered itself in the Indian psyche, so it's easy to give Rakesh Mehra the benefit of doubt here
Amitabh Bachchan is a treat for sore eyes in Aks. In fact, he's a treat for `normal' eyes and a healthy mind and I believe, this is his best performance in years. Manu Verma is NOT an extension of his angry young man persona by any means. He is a wise-cracking, pragmatic Police Officer, who relies on his experience, rather than impulse. Amitabh Bachchan as Raghavan represents exactly what Manoj Bajpai tries hard to reveal..Evil in it's most inflated form. Raghavan is very much akin to Jack Nicholson's Joker and like him, suffers from a predilection for dramatics. Amitabh seamlessly transforms himself from one form to the other and makes it look like there was no effort involved at all. This is a performance that deserves the highest accolades but I'm not too sure if his effort will get the due recognition or not. In any case, as a diehard fan, I can hold my head high and say that this IS why I'm a fan of this consummate artist.
Manoj Bajpai looks menacing and his trademark laughter is used to good effect throughout the movie. The effort he has put in is visible but in all honesty, Aks is not his film. I think the scenes involving MB and Amitabh form the highlight of the film but their interaction, much to my chagrin is limited. I don't think this is his best performance to date but as usual, he has left a mark in his characteristic style. One of the victories of Aks is that it pits the two greatest actors of their respective generations and then tantalizingly refrains them from having a go at each other. They compliment each other instead of trying to outdo or overshadow the other. It's the type of clash, which may not leave you in rapture but makes you realize how two great actors share a great chemistry on screen. Notice that MB is uncharacteristically subdued in his scenes with AB, in sharp contrast to his overall image in the movie. And those are MB's finest moments I daresay.
Nandita Das and Raveena Tandon augment Manu Verma and Raghavan's characters respectively and are both competent. K K Raina as Mahadevan is exceptional and his performance, I have noted is terribly underrated. The guy who played the character `Arjun Shrivastav' was the only sore point in the whole cast. He appeared stiff and edgy, quite possibly because this was his debut performance?
To conclude, Aks is a novel attempt, which in more than one way, opens our eyes to ideas and thoughts that are radical and untested, but it questions it's own acceptance in the process. It is appropriate to say that Aks is an indulgent movie. But the important thing is, it registers itself and lingers in the mind, long after the show is over. You don't get any different than that in clichéd Bollywood and for that reason alone, Rakesh Mehra and Amitabh Bachchan deserve a special pat on the back. In the end, one only wishes: If only people had the patience to give the movie a shot, we could have commended ourselves for taking a giant stride forward.
P.S. I've already seen the film twice and the second viewing made for a better experience than the first one!
The movie borrows very lightly from the movies 'Face/Off' and 'Fallen'. Bachchan plays the role of a high-ranking cop, Manu Verma, who is assigned to protect an Indian politician. Manu Verma fails in his duty as the official is murdered and a floppy disk containing details of an assassination of another official is taken.
The chase is now on to stop the murderer Raghavan (Manoj Bajpai, who is extraordinary as a nutcase) at any cost. Manu catches the killer and during an escape attempt, both killer and cop shoot each other. The killer dies but his soul somehow manifests itself in Manu's body and Manu himself becomes the killer. The killer's soul, now in Amitabh's body, continues his reign of murder and mayhem.
Amitabh is amazing in his role as cop and killer. Nandita Das plays his wife convincingly and the age gap between the two is explained as well. Raveena Tandon is also very convincing as the stripper girlfriend of the killer.
If you're looking for a change of pace from the regular Bollywood flicks, this is definitely the movie you should watch. There's no 23 minute death scenes, or people living after being shot 44 times in the chest. I'd have to say it was one of the Amitabh's best performances of his career, not the best, but one of the best.
The first thing that impressed me about AKS was the visuals. The movie has a very cool look, with striking cinematography and lighting that favour cold blues contrasted with occasional warm firey yellows. It's very sharply edited and features great art direction too. The next thing that impressed me even more was how *dark* the movie is - far darker than anything else I've seen from India, almost disturbing at times. Much of the credit for this has to go to Manoj Bajpai, who is tremendously sinister and charismatic as the villain - though the godly Amitabh Bachchan is just as charismatic and almost as sinister in the hero's seat.
Add to all this the complex and fascinating characters, razor sharp dialogue and the exploration of some fascinating themes, and Aks is surely a winner.
Amitabh plays a cop, in charge of political security. After the Defence Minister is assassinated, he gets on the trail of a political conspiracy, with the only lead being the possibility of finding the assassin. As he gets closer, he gets drawn in further and further to the situation himself - to lengths that he could never imagine.
Aks almost completely eschews humour, and avoids song and dance as much as is physically possible in a Bollywood movie, integrating the excellent songs from Anu Malik well into the movie's natural context for the most part. It's a gripping and intense movie, expertly directed by Rakesh Mehra - despite it being his feature film debut (I believe he comes from the advertising industry).
The first half of the movie is so tight and sharp that I almost cried at times. The second half loses focus a little bit, but still remains gripping and visually mesmerising. The whole movie easily registers as one of the best Hindi movies I've seen, and one of the best movies I've seen this year from any country or time.
This perhaps all sounds a little to hyperbolic, so I ought to acknowledge that the movie has flaws too. I can't actually think of any, but others may find it a little too dark and cynical; Definitely not a kids movie - there's some violence and quite a bit of eroticism that would probably get the movie an M rating in the US, or even an R if the ratings board were having a sensitive day. It's perhaps guilty of becoming overly melodramatic towards the end, but then how many movies aren't?
If you prefer your movies on the dark, intelligent and visually slick side of things, I'd say AKS is a must-buy.
Too bad that it didn't do good box office business that due to the fact that its concept and treatment was too much to swallow for the normal bollywood viewer.
But those who regularly watch Hollywood movies and also give some time for the better Bollywood movies should definately have a watch, because this is one of the best Bollywood movies every made.
There nuff said. go and watch it ...
Firstly, most of the audience (at that time) didn't prefer dark movies or they were not exposed to non-commercial movies.Due to over-hyped actors such as Shah-Rukh who only play romantic or commercial characters except few movies. His movies such as Om Shanti Om, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Ra One, and many more are so over-hyped that limits audience to taste different genres of movies because filmmakers used to fear to experiment in different genres. Producers didn't want to task risk in experimenting at a different concept of film making.Nowadays, the audience have started to try movies with different taste. That's why movies such as Kahaani, Barfi, Udaan etc. are performing really good at Box Office. Secondly,the length of the movie is too long. It is almost 3 hours long. If they had reduced it by 45-55 minutes, it would have done a better business.
Rakesh OmPraksh Mehra has done good job in his debut film.His Rang De Basanti was the best amongst his all movies.