SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
One of the most interesting characters in Alan Parker's 1988 film Mississippi Burning, about the murder of three black civil rights activists in a violent and rabidly racist Southern American town, is that of Mrs. Pell (Frances McDormand), a passive, but sensitive woman sympathetic to the blacks, but rendered mute by her abusive husband who's a local cop and the man responsible for the murders. Gene Hackman (that wily, gifted actor) is Anderson, one of two FBI agents dispatched to investigate the crime and from the moment he sets eyes on Mrs. Pell, he knows she's the key to solving the case. So he starts cajoling her and wooing her with sweet words and gestures. He thinks he's using her, but we know he is, in fact, falling for the woman. Their delicately nuanced quasi-romance forms a fantastic sub-plot in this political thriller.
Predictably, while rip-off experts Robin Bhatt and Akash Khurana copy just about everything from Mississippi Burning into Aakrosh, they botch up this track and totally dilute the woman's character by turning her into a whimpering lass of mere cosmetic value to the story. Priyadarshan takes directorial credit without actually doing much, even by way of changing sequence structure and locations (there's a hair-cutting saloon on the main street in the American town that becomes a hub of action; so there's a hair-cutting saloon in Aakrosh too!) Ajay Devgn essays the macho army officer version of Hackman's part, while Akshaye Khanna is the city-bred, upright CBI officer played by Willem Dafoe in the original film. Paresh Rawal is the killer cop and Bipasha Basu, his dumb wife. The black vs white conflict is converted to a caste war and and the Ku Klux Klan becomes the Shool Sena in a fictitious state Jhanjhar, marked by absolute lawlessness.
Everything is over-the-top, from the background score to the performances and the dialogues. Still, the bits that are copied faithfully work reasonably well. The parts that are 'original' are plain silly. Devgn and Basu are given a back story and a romantic song. There are at least three needless chase sequences (one roof-top chase lifted straight from The Bourne Ultimatum) and one item song (wonder how they think up ingenious ways to picturise these numbers in film after film).
It's criminal to plagiarise so blatantly. And even more so to go around giving press interviews about the 'topical theme' of honour killings. If you really want to see a hard-hitting tale of caste oppression in rural India, go watch another film made by Govind Nihalani in 1980.
Coincidentally, that one too was called Aakrosh.