A.B. Corp & Flicks Motion Picture Company?s AKS, directed by Rakesh Omprakash Mehra, is a story of a hunter and his prey. A cop and a killer. Darkness and light. AKS is the story of Manu Verma (Amitabh Bachchan) and Raghavan (Manoj Bajpai).
The story begins in Budapest. The Indian Defence Minister is on, what seems to be, a routine foreign visit. However, the truth of the matter is that there is a hidden agenda behind the smiles and the handshakes.
The visit is only an elaborate cover. As the motorcade makes its way through the streets of the old Hungarian capital, the Indian Defence Minister reveals the true details of this diplomatic trip, to his Head of Security Manu Verma.
At the heart of the matter, he explains, lies a floppy, with valuable information that could affect the very destiny of the nation. This is not the only sensitive news that has been revealed to Manu Verma that day. Intelligence sources have revealed to Manu Verma that a lone assassin, long feared for his ruthlessness, has been paid to eliminate the Defence Minister.
The shadowy figure is none other than Raghavan. Throughout the visit, Manu Verma can feel Raghavan?s eyes watching their every move. Waiting for that opportunity to strike.
Before the evening is through, Manu Verma?s sixth sense proves right. He reaches the Indian Defence Minister just moments too late and finds the statesman in a pool of blood. Raghavan has struck and vanished into thin air. The floppy has vanished with him.
Manu Verma becomes a man obsessed with capturing Raghavan. Nothing matters to him now except his prey. Manu Verma digs deeper into the heart of darkness. And one fine day, catches his prey. Then he takes Raghavan back to stand trial for his crimes.
However, one night before Raghavan?s sentence of death is to be carried out, he makes one final bid to escape. Snatching a revolver from the police guard near him, Raghavan levels the gun on Manu Verma and the other officers. Manu Verma responds swiftly and draws his own piece.
Then both guns explode.
One of the keenly-anticipated films, AKS is a superior product, technically speaking, but falters in that one vital department -- story-telling.
Though the Indian moviegoer has witnessed the fight between the good and the evil umpteen times before, debutante Rakesh Omprakash Mehra has attempted something novel in AKS, which is inspired by two Hollywood flicks, FACE/OFF and FALLEN, though the concept is also set in age-old Indian mythology. The novelty lies in the fact that AKS explores the fight between a ghost and human.
But let's begin with the uppers.
As a first-timer, Mehra shows immense promise as a technician. His command over the craft is splendid and the film boasts of some spectacular visuals. Technically speaking, the film wears a polished look throughout.
Mehra's handling of several sequences deserves kudos. The scenes between Amitabh and Manoj Bajpai have been shot with elan. The one that can be singled out is when Amitabh physically assaults Nandita Das.
It is evident that Mehra has worked hard on the production design and the look of the movie, whilst attempting to maintain an international standard.
As a composer, Anu Malik's tunes sound different from his usual notes. The sound is different and the picturisation of almost all the songs is imaginative. ?Ye Raat?, ?Rabba Rabba?, ?Aaja Gufawon Mein Aa? and ?Banda Ye Bindas Hai? are the pick of the lot. In fact, the picturisation and choreography of 'Ye Raat' and 'Aaja Gufawon Mein Aa' is spell-binding.
The cinematography (Kiran Deohans) can easily be compared with the best of international cinema. The action sequences are well executed as well.
The biggest drawback of this enterprise is its length and pace. Though the basic idea of the film is novel and interesting, Mehra's story-telling leaves a lot to be desired. He seems to have concentrated more on form than content. The goings-on get heavy and depressing, which will limit it to the elite audience.
The story stagnates towards the latter reels. What could've been conveyed effectively in two hours has been stretched without cause, thereby diluting the impact of the film.
Two songs (?Hat Jao Ravan Maroongi Baan? and ?Raat Aati Hai?) can easily be deleted, for they do precious little to move the story ahead. The editing is loose and the film should be trimmed by at least twenty minutes to make the pace faster.
The screenplay should've been better penned. There are a couple of sequences wherein the viewer is completely confused and cannot fathom as to what's happening. There are so many questions unanswered.
For instance, the climax. It is just not explained how Amitabh overpowers the spirit of Manoj Bajpai. A more appropriate ending should've been thought of.
And now for the performances.
The actors and actresses in the movie look their respective characters. It is after a long time that you see Amitabh in his element. He essays the character that he has specialised in over the years and does a marvellous job of it. His look and expressions are noteworthy.
Manoj Bajpai tends to go overboard at times, but makes a decent attempt in certain sequences with Bachchan. Raveena Tandon looks bewitching and does her part well. Nandita Das is natural to the core.
Dialogues are praiseworthy. Production values are of top class.
On the whole, AKS scores in terms of technique, not content. It has Amitabh at his best, a strong visual appeal, foot-tapping music that gels well with the goings-on, but a not-so-impressive second half will prove a stumbling block. If you don't believe in supernatural, you'll probably dispel the concept of the film. The film has taken a fantastic start all over and with no opposition in the coming week, AKS will find the going safe in Mumbai, South India and Overseas. But in others, it will settle to the average category after the initial euphoria settles.