Any resemblances to Mississippi Burning (1988) are smart indeed. Priyadarshan replaces an American small-town with the fictional Jhaanjhar village in Bihar,a sheriff with a Dalit ex-soldier Pratap (Ajay Devgn) who is assigned by the CBI to work with their rule-book-addicted young officer Sidhant (Akshaye Khanna) and investigate the case of three young collegians (instead of civil rights workers in MB) who have gone missing.
The whites and blacks conflicts are replaced by upper caste and Dalit friction respectively and romantic angles come in with Sidhants one-time girlfriend Geeta (Bipasha Basu) now married to corrupt cop Ajatshatru Singh (Paresh Rawal) and Roshni (Amita Pathak),the daughter of the most powerful man in the village (Atul Tiwari) being in love with a Dalit medical student (one of the three boys who go missing). MBs village Ku Klux Klan is replaced here by Shool Sena,a murderous silent gang that strikes at the villagers.
The village prefers to suffer less in silence rather than suffer more with protest. But Pratap and Sidhant continue to fearlessly investigate (even when the CBI formally closes the case under pressure),opening up a sordid saga of caste-based honour killings.
Despite the length,one never gets restive or bored and the pace never flags. The Indianization is efficiently done and special marks go to Aditya Dhar,whose dialogues are the trenchant highlights along with Thyagarajans and R.P.Yadavs crackling action (note especially the chase sequences of the jeep in the jungle as well as that of Devgn across the rooftops of the local houses). The cinematography (Tirru S.),art direction (Sabu Cyril) and background score (Ousepachen) are stunning and one can barely cut a few minutes from the film,so editor Arun Kumar too gets full marks.
Director Priyadarshan is in top form with the meat at his disposal and the most effective performances come from all the negative characters,led by Paresh Rawal as the cop and Atul Tiwari as the monstrous man of power. Reema Sen makes a great impact as the Dalit woman. The lead artistes stick to their tried-and-tested images and are competent (Bipasha,Akshaye) and excellent (Ajay Devgn) respectively.
Never mind the sourcing,Aakrosh has grip and punch and is a must-watch. One star each for the powerful script and dialogues,one for the performances,one for the technical highs,and one for Priyadarshan,who comes out with his best Hindi film since Bhool Bhulaiya and Billu.