Autograph and Aakrosh captivate, Jackie disappoints

While one director sticks to the formula and fails, two others bring in new perspectives and make the films work.

Jackie (Kannada)

Jackie has been amongst Kannada cinema’s eagerly awaited films of October, if for no other reason than the coming together of director Suri (Duniya fame) and Puneet Rajkumar.

Yet before the film is half complete it quickly becomes clear that if all the problems of the Indian film-making could be highlighted in one film, it would be Jackie. The film that is reminiscent of an 80s Hindi cinema potboiler seems confused on whether its intention is to be an entertainer or a film with a socially relevant message. In the end it winds up between the devil and the deep blue sea – slightly lost in no man’s land and typically immersed in mindless gore aplenty. In the final analysis, Jackie’s weakest link remains a poorly developed script whose high points are created by dialogue and not action.

The film is built around the character of Jackie (Puneet Rajkumar). When two lovers from his hometown, Yashodha (Harshika Poonacha) and Parangi Seena elope, Jackie sets out in search of them to prove that he is not involved in their disappearance. His search is peppered with his adventures and the people he meets along the way, even as he discovers true love with Lakshmi (Bhavana) on his journey.

While some of the smaller characters have been memorably etched out, the cliché ridden film is not helped by poor logic and looseness of script, bad editing and average performances. So even before the interval, you are left wondering when this film would end.

The beautiful songs shot in exotic locales and set to music by V Harikrishna should have been the film’s high point. But when the rest of the film drags, they only prolong your agony. Ditto for the dialogue that is witty in fits and starts, but cannot sustain your interest in a film that has already outlived its time.

A rating of 2 on five for Jackie. You can safely give this Puneet Rajkumar starrer a miss, without too many regrets.

Aakrosh (Hindi)

After creating ripples of laughter with films like Hulchul, Bhagam Bhag, Malamaal Weekly and Bumm Bumm Bole, director Priyadarshan returns with Aakrosh. But with the honour killings in rural India as its landscape, Aakrosh is not the typical film from this director. However, it must be mentioned that some of his Malayalam films have been on similar lines.

Priyadarshan develops his theme through the investigation of the disappearance of three college students in rural Bihar. Working amidst a hostile village, CBI officers Sidhant Chaturvedi (Akshaye Khanna) and Pratap Kumar (Ajay Devgan) must piece together the clues to unravel the mystery of their disappearance. What emerges is a complex web of caste allegiances that justifies even genocide.

The well developed script is helped by tight editing and strong performances. Akshay Khanna and Ajay Devgan complement each other perfectly, never striking a false note or overshadowing the other for an instant. Reema Sen as Jhamunia gives the film its most heart wrenching moments, while Bipasha Basu plays to script. Together they come together to pack a powerful punch that can only leave you stunned.

The solitary weak link in the film is perhaps the film’s musical direction and choreography. The music has none of the earthy flavour reminiscent of these parts and is also eminently forgettable.

Yet I would go with a rating of 3 on 5 for Aakrosh. It’s a socially relevant well made film, brought alive by real performances that stay with you long after you’ve left the cinema hall.

Autograph (Bengali)

It’s been awhile since a contemporary film from either Indian or world cinema has left one wondering on how it would end. Srijit Mukherjee’s debut film Autograph does just that, even as it blends the twistedness of life with a touch of humour and romance. But even when the film journeys into the dark places of the soul, cynicism and bitterness are always graced by faith.

Autograph uses the approach of a film within a film to tell the story of an aspiring director Subho’s (Indraneil Sengupta) journey to make his dream film starring the lady he loves Srinandita (Nandana Sen) and the reigning Bengali superstar Arun Chatterjee (Prosenjit Chatterjee). As the film nears completion, a complex triangle of many undercurrents develops between the director, the leading lady and the film’s actor.

Yet the film that is also a tribute to Satyajit Ray’s Nayak is never a simplistic dabbling into a tale of romance and jealousy. Instead it is a tale of love, longing, loneliness, success and redemption.

Srijit lets this complex tale unfold in a masterful fashion, never losing control over his script. Yet as the film hurtles to its climax, one wonders if he will succeed in concluding this tale with all the panache that it has been told? Fortunately Srijit does not disappoint, in a film that makes no creative compromises in its vision.

Prosenjit Chatterjee, Nandana Sen and Indraneil Sengupta together live their characters, giving this film its soul.

The cinematography and music also add new dimensions to the film. Particularly outstanding is the music direction by Debajyoti Mishra, which in the finest tradition of Bengali cinema, gives melody to poetry. A memorable moment in the film is the song Aamake Aamar Moto Thakte Dao.

A rating of 4 on 5 for Autograph, a film without a predictable moment that draws you in with the layered passionate intensity of its story telling.

The ratings and what they mean

The ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and try to strike that difficult balance between cinematic critique and giving the regular film buff a peek into what’s playing in town and worth a watch.

1: Watch this film only if the director pays you

2: You could safely give this film a miss

2.5: A one time watch

3: Good cinema. Money well spent

4: Great cinema. A standing ovation

5: Simply speechless. A masterpiece

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