Review: Akaash Vaani
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Director: Luv Ranjan
Someone, please remind me we are in 2013. Because I've just finished watching a film which states that we haven't moved an inch since the '60s. The film tells me, with a straight face, that a young girl will suffer quietly and accept all indignities, which includes being ravaged by her boorish husband, just so she can help her parents maintain their "izzat". That she will do this just because an older sister's behaviour has caused her parents to hang their heads in shame, and that she can compensate by agreeing to be led like a sacrificial cow to the "mandap". And that she will be unhappy for the rest of her life.
As soon as it opens, there's a discernible jerk. Is this the same director who gave us the funny, irreverent Pyaar Ka Punchnama? That film had three Delhi guys trying to keep their heads above the choppy waters of jobs and relationships. That film had recognisable characters who spoke in a language that we knew. Here, none of the above applies. Vani (Bharucha, who was in Pyaar Ka Punchnama, and in Love, Sex aur Dhokha) is drawn towards her classmate at St Stephen's College. Akaash (Tiwari, also in PKP) leaves when Vani shuts the door on him, returning only when she is married and miserable. (Students of Stephen's may have a bone to pick with the portrayal of the amazingly shorn-of-books, never-seen-in-class Vani and company, but that's another story).
The film's end is not a surprise, but what is a real surprise and not in a good way at all is how deeply regressive much of this film is. Of how a spirited girl is made into a slave by a controlling husband who, for no good reason that we are ever let into, is the kind of guy who wants a "non-working housewife". Of how this fellow will turn to her at night, to force her into her "wifely duties". Of how he will lash at her verbally whenever he feels like. It's not like there aren't men like this paragon of virtue, and it's not like there aren't parents who will force their daughters into "compromising" as long as the boat isn't rocked. But there is a serious problem if a youthful director, using fresh young faces, digs out a deep-sixed theme, and presents it with the sort of mothballed treatment we'd forgotten ( complete with wailing violins and tired clichés).
Bharucha has talent. But this is not the vehicle to showcase it.