Movie Review: Ajji…When A Grandmother's Courage Dares To Break The Rules

Theatre artiste and playwright, Sushama Deshpande, delivers a knockout of a performance
3 Stars



Alert ahead: Content-wise, you might beg to differ from a grandmom who wreaks vendetta of the most blood-curdling kind. Everyone from AB to Z has done it, grabbing the law into their own hands, epitomised unfogettably, courtesy if that’s the right word of Amitabh Bachchan of the ‘jawan gussawala aadmi’ era.


This year Sridevi zoned out on Sridevi in Mom, Raveena Tandon in Matra…etc and more etc. Now here’s Ajji (Granny), directed by second-timer Devashish Makhija(after Oonga, four years ago), which gratifyingly strives to be more plausible, in touch with reality and is topped with a punch-packed performance by the 56-year-old Sushama Deshpande in the title role.

Trade attitudes to indie cinema being what they are, the tour de force act by Ms Deshpande, a playwright and theatre thespian, may not get the attention it justly deserves. But then what’s fair nowadays?

ajji poster
Ajji Poster

Ajji, sparsely-budgeted and photographed starkly by Jishnu Bhattacharjee, has been lauded at international film festivals. Sure, but it needs to reach out to a far wider, domestic audience. Chances? Dicey.

For one, the release of the angry granflick seems to be the trade’s most well-kept secrets in months. And second, the film does venture into such extremeties (butcher giving inadvertent lessons on how to go chop-chop, a pervo making out with a mannequin and blood spray) that the squeamish may wince out loud.

a stiil from ajji
A Stiil From Ajji

Again, the culprits guilty of the foulest deeds imaginable are none other than a super-creepo (Abhishek Banerjee, one-man shudderfest) with political-cum-cash clout abetted  by  the venal corrupt police force.

A 10-year-old girl (Sahrvani Suryavanshi) has been raped by that despicable creepo, and dumped in a slumland out there somewhere. Its exact location’s left unspecified, perhaps to convey that such atrocities are rampant throughout the nation. A strong point that.

The girl’s grandma, a tailor suffering from a knee ailment,  sets out to find her, accompanied by one of her clients, a sex worker (Sadia Siddiqui, impressive). Shattered on learning about the rape, there seems to be no option but to go by the dictum of extracting a tooth-for-a-tooth. The girl’s parents are helpless, injustice prevails unchecked. But this case will not and should not be among the hundreds which still go unreported.

a still from ajji
A Still From Ajji

Admittedly, the force of the dramaturgy – however age-old it may be--  can’t be done justice to in a few paragraphs. Suffice it to say that this cross between a pitch-black thriller and a vendetta spree, is decidedly different. No glamsham, no random sub-plots, no fake palliatives offered. These may be negative but vital virtues at a time when there’s more corn than conviction at the movies.

Throughout, the ravaged child’s innocence and the grandma’s rage are as heart-wrenching as they are real.

For those rare qualities and for Sushama Deshpande’s implosive incarnation of a Grandmother Courage, Ajji is worth walking miles for.

 

 
Image Source: Youtube/Yoodle Films

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