Even the cinema of melodrama has a culture specific idiom. This means that the unseemly alacrity to remake successful Tamil movies into Hindi has a downside. What sounds convincing in one language and society suffers from an absence of credibility when directly transferred to another geographical location and ethos. ‘ Mouna Guru’, the film on which Akira is based, may fit into an acceptable cultural space in Tamil Nadu but looks ridiculous when set in a South Mumbai College.
Marching in protest against an assault on a College Professor and facing teargas and lathis from the Police is not the done thing for trendy students here. Nor do gangs of kids pull out knives to intimidate a fellow student with a different set of ethics. Nor do they make dramatic announcements at ‘college functions’. In short, the politics of social and cultural agitation in campuses across many parts of the country is alien to the elite students here and looks ridiculous when set at this peaceful Jesuit College with rich kids, whose greatest source of anxiety would probably be an interview for a student visa at the US consulate.
So when Akira (Sonakshi Sinha) arrives from Jodhpur at this educational institution and inadvertently gets mixed up in a cover up operation by a corrupt police force led by ACP Govind Rane (Anurag Kashyap) it does not ring true in this ambience of privilege. It looks like what it is – a transplant that is being rejected by the host body.
The only scenes that work in Akira are those that include the actor in Kashyap, when he plays the glassy eyed, marijuana addled Police Officer, whose reaction time to trauma and crisis is so delayed and laid back that his character functions as a perfect foil to the frenetic melodrama being played out in other scenes.
But it also begs an important question – what is this fine director doing by playing a lengthy role in a very ordinary re-make? Can a film maker set the standard for an alternative cinema that is realistic and, at the same time, as an actor, become a poster boy for, and endorse a movie making style he actually rejects? There is an inherent contradiction here that he needs to resolve.
As Akira, Sonakshi Sinha gives it her best shot playing an action woman who lays low entire gangs of men. But in a very average production such as this film, it will not add significantly to her profile as an actress of quality.