Reader Rating (Rate Here): [Total: 1 Average: 3/5]
Directed By: Devashish Makhija
Cast: Sushma Deshpande, Sharvani Suryavanshi, Vikash Kumar, Abhishek Banerjee
Justice is never given, it is taken. Ajji is a revenge- drama, it is a story of a common woman who, when denied justice by the authorities turns into Justitia and serves her own brand of it. Ajji is in line with the Korean movies which take vengeance to a new level. And thus would make Park Chan-Wook (Vengeance Trilogy) or Kim Jee-Woon (I Saw the Devil) proud. I personally believe in retribution and hence am fully fine with the Ajji brand of justice.
“I have grown up now” mumbles little Manda (Sharvani Suryavanshi) to her Ajji (Sushma Deshpande), the grandmother. In just one scene Devashish Makhija explains how growing up can sometimes be a curse. How rape takes away innocence and how there is no coming back from it. Rape leapfrogs a natural process of growing up (physical and mental). And it not only affects the victim but also the people connected to her (in this case). Ajji feels the guilt of sending Manda alone at night and Manda’s parents are not the same anymore.
To pile it on, the system works only for the rich and the influential. Dastur (Vikash Kumar), a tainted cop threatens the family of dire consequences. The threatening becomes harassment when he lifts her skirt to check the injury. Parents don’t press charges out of fear of retribution from Vilasrao Dhavle (Abhishek Banerjee). He is a local politician’s son who has just brutally raped Manda.
Manda belongs to a household where three people have to work to sustain a family of four. Grandmother stitches clothes, mother Vibha (Smita Tambe) sells Poha on a bicycle and father is a daily wage worker. The first half gives us the incident and the director lays bare its fallout.
The next phase is the preparation for the retribution. Makhija showcases what Ajji has planned for Dhalve. Ajji enrolls herself with Sharafat (Sudhir Pandey) a meat shop owner, who teaches her slicing and dicing. This phase also features an appalling scene which serves to justify Ajji’s decision. It involves a very weird scene of Dhalve having sex with a mannequin. One, its a very bold thing to do, both for the actor and the director considering how prude Indian cinema can be. Two, although I suppose the scene is Makhija’s way of drawing parallels with the rape of a minor. And along the way also throwing forgiveness or following due process out of the window. But the scene is too protracted and explicit that it ends up feeling manipulative. From that scene onward, audience is waiting for revenge. And more importantly how an aged, arthritic lady will exact it.
The final act is the flaw in the otherwise fabulous movie. For one the act was swift, it doesn’t build up to the (sadistic) satisfaction of the revenge. Nor does it set an example or discuss the reverberations of the act. Two thirds of the movie lays bare the social impact but the final act make it look transactional. Also the fact that its not the just rapist who is at fault but also the person who incites him. But only Dhalve was the casualty, what about Umya who had incited him?
Sushama Deshpande as Ajji is a brilliant act, all the years spent in theater radiates in her performance. Sudhir Pandey as Sharafat brings down the intensity (much needed). Abhishek Banerjee is believable as the loathsome, entitled, spoilt-brat rapist.
Ajji has minimal dialogues and much of it is understood by extrapolating the situations. It takes its own time in building up the scenes much like its main protagonist. It’s a one time watch which builds up your anger as the movie progresses. But, you feel cheated because of the swift end. Watch it and share your rating above.