Aksar 2 Review

Abhinav Shukla and actress Zareen Khan are seen in a still from their film, “Aksar 2.” The film is the sequel to 2006 film “Aksar.” (photo provided)

Siddhivinayak Creations presents “Aksar 2”

Produced by: Narendra Bajaj, Chira Bajaj & Varun Bajaj

Directed by: Ananth Narayan Mahadevan

Written by: Narendra Bajaj & Ananth Narayan Mahadevan

Music: Mithoon & Rohit Kulkarni

Starring: Zareen Khan, Gautam Rode, Abhinav Shukla, Mohit Madan, S. Sreesanth, Lilette Dubey, Denzil Smith and others

This is a sequel that is only in name. The double-crosses and triple-crosses, so to speak, decide the path this story takes, just like with “Aksar” in 2006. As with that film, the plot is about an amoral route to a conclusion that may be said to have a core of morality, but essentially, it is all about deceit, betrayal and more.

But…but…but…there is one crucial difference: the brand is known for its chartbuster music! It is Himesh Reshammiya’s music in “Aksar” that brought in the audiences (as the film’s biggest star) who were then enthralled by the plot and liked the film too. Will that happen here with Mithoon’s calamitous…er, contribution? Forget chart-busting, the film has among the most forgettable music tracks even by recent (non-)standards.

For the director’s and producer’s sake, I hope the film (it could have had a fresh name) can rise over this crucial deficit: the very factor that made the brand. Among the modest thrillers that are abounding in Hindi cinema since the turn of the millennium, frankly, it is not bad at all. In fact, in its flawless scripting sans loopholes, it is quite superior to most of them. We never have to ask the question, “How did that fit into the plot?” or “How come this was shown if that was the truth?” even once.

For Hindi cinema, that is – indeed! – a great rarity!

Where the film may lose out, besides the all-important music, is also in the fact that it is needlessly over-erotic, pulling down its reputation to B-minus grade in the context of Hindi cinema. The skin show detracts from the clever plotline and seems to be designed to be the main magnet the film has, which is unfortunate. The sex quotient does not cover up script weaknesses here, but will perhaps weaken its impact – again needlessly.

Sheena (Khan) and Ricky (Abhinav Shukla) are living together when she applies (with a supposed three-year experience at taking care of geriatric patients) for the post of governess for super-rich spinster Dolly Khambatta (Lillette Dubey). The investment banker who handles all the woman’s affairs is Patrick Sharma (Gautam Rode), a seemingly pleasant gentleman who cares for the old lady. He recommends her mainly, as she finds out so that his carnal desires will be quenched by her – Khambatta’s need for help, actually, was a 50-plus woman!

Gradually, however, a different side to Patrick unfolds, and Sheena herself is not above board as she too jumps into bed with him! Then there are two more people involved in Khambatta’s life – her lawyer Gaurav (S. Sreesanth, the cricketer, in his film debut) and a servant of sorts Bachchan (Mohit Madaan).

And yes, the film begins with the murder of Khambatta’s former governess in a seeming accident on a city street and ends with another accident that is actually a killing in Singapore.

Mahadevan is known for his dichotomy as a director over 15 years. On the one hand, he makes purposeful social films like “Mee Sindhutai Sakpal,” “Doctor Rakhmabai” and such bio-pics and on the other hand, doles out entertainers like “Aksar” and other modest thrillers. To be honest, he has not often succeeded in such mainstream commercial cinema, but this franchise seems to always see him in for good form. Here, we find him competent, but he could have axed a lot of the corny lines that elicit titters, like the remark “Age is just a number” used in a ludicrous context.

The stars of this film (though it will not help the film businesswise) are the absolutely fabulous photography by Maneesh Chandra Bhatt and the DI (digital color correction) by Nirmal Sharma. This is award-deserving work from both, and Muneesh Sappel’s skilled production design aids them. The background score by Rohit Kulkarni, who also contributes the theme song, is decent.

From the cast, the brief scene-stealer is Mohit Madaan as Bachchan. Lillette Dubey is interesting in her interpretation of a filthy-rich woman who is not cantankerous but has her foibles and strengths at the same time. She luckily does not take her character anywhere near to caricature levels. Zareen Khan should seriously work on both her expressions and figure: a slim, svelte protagonist with better expressive power could have helped the film loads. Rode has a pleasant persona, ditto Shukla, and both perform well, but they are not big-screen hero material.

Rating: ***

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