A majority of the Indian professionals and the corporate segment, closely followed by the student community, are not likely to take the supernatural with anything more than a large pinch of salt.
However, if your take on it is not so definite and you find yourself musing over it, Aks - The Reflection should manage
to chill you -- an experience not easily delivered by films this side of the Pacific.
Supercop Manu Verma, who heads the National Security, is faced with one of the biggest challenges of his life when the Defence Minister of the country is assassinated from under his nose in Budapest. Worse, a floppy (couldn't we have a CD/Microfilm?), containing the names of some of the biggest threats to the national security is missing.
The man responsible for the crime turns out to be Raghavan, a deranged criminal who seems to enjoy the act of killing more than enjoying the material gains that can accrue from it.
Raghavan is consummate at his 'art' and is an embodiment of the evil. He has a criminally brilliant mind with a twisted philosophical reasoning to life that gives him a raison d'etre.
Manu Verma's pursuit takes him to Raghavan's abode in the wilderness. He nabs Raghavan. Manu tries to convince Raghavan to reveal who he is working for and the whereabouts of the floppy disk, but ends up shooting him when he tries to escape.
A phenomenon occurs (by definition phenomenons aren't traced to a reason), allowing Raghavan's ever-restless spirit to make its way into Manu Verma's body. And thus settle scores left unfinished, leaving a trail of gore and blood.
The ultimate booty, of course, being the assassination of the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister's life, however, is not the heart of the climax.
The battle is between Manu Verma's courage, self-belief and determination, and the genesis of evil within him in the form of Raghavan's soul.
Aks, then, is Manu Verma's exercise in self-exorcism. An Amitabh v/s Amitabh extravaganza as he eases indiscernibly from Manu Verma to Raghavan and back -- one moment struggling with himself (but determined to overcome), the next, slickly menacing, dark and sexy.
The Cast and Crew
Manoj Bajpai has a Nana Patekarish blend of intensity and ordinariness. He has outdone himself as the epitome of all that's evil and dark, using his voice brilliantly (his chillingly effective laughter has been used to punctuate Amitabh's dialogues when he is possessed by Raghavan), to lend a creepy aura to a fiercely shady character.
Nandita Das is brilliant as Supriya, Manu Verma's doting, proud and fiercely protective wife. She has drawn on her experience in unconventional roles (Earth, Fire, the shelved Water) to portray, beautifully, a woman who has no clue as to what is tearing her world apart but is determined to do something about it.
Raveena Tandon as Neeta, a club dancer who can't resist Raghavan's enigma and intensity, manages to hold her own in a few confrontation scenes with Manu Verma. She's required to look drop dead gorgeous and is enthralling in the visually lavish dance
numbers, especially Aaja gufaaon mein aa.
Rakesh Mehra (who cowrote the screenplay of Aks in two days flat), has made full use of Paul Sims (Visual Effects Designer) and Nick Dudman (Prosthetics Makeup), especially in scenes where Manu Verma/Raghavan tear off masks to reveal the person beneath without having to edit the shot or sending him behind a tree as is wont in Hindi films.
Kiran Deohans' cinematography is definitely on par with the world's best, exploring a wide range of camera angles and using blue lenses to bring out the shadiness and evil into the surroundings, which adds to the chill factor.
Aks has been professed as an attempt at a new genre of Indian cinema, in terms of script as well as its presentation. It might well become one.
It has also been called a casting coup of sorts for Rakesh Mehra. (Though it is difficult to believe the script was written without Amitabh Bachchan in mind.)
After being pitched against Akshay Kumar in Ek Rishtaa, this is AB's second face-off of the year. Needless to say, any confrontation with this man can only be academic.
It must be said that his reactions are often visibly slow when the script would have demanded more physical energy and sharpness -- especially in scenes where he is possessed by Raghavan's spirit.
Aks gives the Big B an opportunity to use the range of expressions he redefined in his prime.
This is a film you can't afford to miss him in.
'I expect the world of Aks!': Kiran Deohans
Face-off with Manoj Bajpai!
'Why I married Amitabh!': Nandita Das
'I can't act for nuts!': Rakesh Mehra
Aks - The Reflection: Story in pictures
Aks: A haunting melody!
Listen to the songs of Aks