Opening this week

‘Ajji’ film review: Child rape drama takes the easy way out

Devashish Makhija’s vigilante drama centres on a grandmother who seeks to avenge her granddaughter’s rape.

Filth and its extermination – the average vigilante drama often resembles a pest control operation. Devashish Makhija’s Ajji, set in one of Mumbai’s many slums, gives figurative garbage literal shape in the opening sequence. Manda (Sharvani Suryavanshi) is missing, and when her grandmother (Sushma Deshpande) and prostitute Leela (Sadiya Siddiqui) find the school-going girl, she is nearly inseparable from the pile of trash into which she has been thrown.

Manda has been raped, and since the culprit (Abhishek Banerjee) is the son of a local politician, he has not bothered to flee. Her parents want to forget the crime and move on, but the grandmother feels otherwise. The girl’s recovery is too painful and slow for the elderly woman, who has no faith in the corrupt local policeman (Vikas Kumar) or the medical system. Instead, the unnamed character (Ajji means grandmother in Marathi) relies on coloured powders given to her by a traditional healer.

The grandmother clearly lives not only on the margins of the economy, but also reality. Her knees have been hobbled by age and too many years at the sewing machine, and yet, she decides to avenge her granddaughter’s violation with Leela’s help. Does she succeed, especially when her target is hiding in plain sight and the slum they both inhabit seems strangely depopulated?

Ajji is a not a suspense thriller.

Play
Ajji (2017).

A sequence in which a friendly butcher (Sudhir Pandey) teaches the grandmother to eviscerate a chicken in painful detail is telling. There is plenty of meat displayed in the movie but not enough on the story. Makhija, who has previously directed shorts and the feature Oonga (2013), effectively creates a phantasmagoria, but relies too heavily on stylised cinematography and grungy locations rather than well sketched characters to convey the idea of hell on earth. The grandmother’s journey is typically bathed in shadows, and the tone is unrelentingly grim. The rapist’s perversity is thickly underlined to remove any traces of humanity, especially in a sequence involving a mannequin that is less shocking than sordid. There are just about enough ideas here for an extended short film.

There are two exceptions to the one-note performances. Sushma Deshpande is impressive as the watchful and volcanic grandmother who doesn’t let her advanced age and poor health interrupt her crusade. She cuts a poignant figure as she hobbles about the slum, and is particularly powerful in the climax. Sadiya Siddiqui, the talented television actress who has rarely been given a good movie role (Kali Salwar is an exception) embodies warmth and empathy as the prostitute.

Outrage over the rape of children is easily provoked, but it takes hard work to make a movie about the justice that is due to them. Ajji takes the easy way out.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Not just for experts: How videography is poised for a disruption

Digital solutions are making sure it’s easier than ever to express your creativity in moving images.

Where was the last time you saw art? Chances are on a screen, either on your phone or your computer. Stunning photography and intricate doodles are a frequent occurrence in the social feeds of many. That’s the defining feature of art in the 21st century - it fits in your pocket, pretty much everyone’s pocket. It is no more dictated by just a few elite players - renowned artists, museum curators, art critics, art fair promoters and powerful gallery owners. The digital age is spawning creators who choose to be defined by their creativity more than their skills. The negligible incubation time of digital art has enabled experimentation at staggering levels. Just a few minutes of browsing on the online art community, DeviantArt, is enough to gauge the scope of what digital art can achieve.

Sure enough, in the 21st century, entire creative industries are getting democratised like never before. Take photography, for example. Digital photography enabled everyone to capture a memory, and then convert it into personalised artwork with a plethora of editing options. Apps like Instagram reduced the learning curve even further with its set of filters that could lend character to even unremarkable snaps. Prisma further helped to make photos look like paintings, shaving off several more steps in the editing process. Now, yet another industry is showing similar signs of disruption – videography.

Once burdened by unreliable film, bulky cameras and prohibitive production costs, videography is now accessible to anyone with a smartphone and a decent Internet bandwidth. A lay person casually using social media today has so many video types and platforms to choose from - looping Vine videos, staccato Musical.lys, GIFs, Instagram stories, YouTube channels and many more. Videos are indeed fast emerging as the next front of expression online, and so are the digital solutions to support video creation.

One such example is Vizmato, an app which enables anyone with a smartphone to create professional-looking videos minus the learning curve required to master heavy, desktop software. It makes it easy to shoot 720p or 1080p HD videos with a choice of more than 40 visual effects. This fuss- free app is essentially like three apps built into one - a camcorder with live effects, a feature-rich video editor and a video sharing platform.

With Vizmato, the creative process starts at the shooting stage itself as it enables live application of themes and effects. Choose from hip hop, noir, haunted, vintage and many more.

The variety of filters available on Vizmato
The variety of filters available on Vizmato

Or you can simply choose to unleash your creativity at the editing stage; the possibilities are endless. Vizmato simplifies the core editing process by making it easier to apply cuts and join and reverse clips so your video can flow exactly the way you envisioned. Once the video is edited, you can use a variety of interesting effects to give your video that extra edge.

The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.
The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.

You can even choose music and sound effects to go with your clip; there’s nothing like applause at the right moment, or a laugh track at the crack of the worst joke.

Or just annotated GIFs customised for each moment.

Vizmato is the latest offering from Global Delight, which builds cross-platform audio, video and photography applications. It is the Indian developer that created award-winning iPhone apps such as Camera Plus, Camera Plus Pro and the Boom series. Vizmato is an upgrade of its hugely popular app Game Your Video, one of the winners of the Macworld Best of Show 2012. The overhauled Vizmato, in essence, brings the Instagram functionality to videos. With instant themes, filters and effects at your disposal, you can feel like the director of a sci-fi film, horror movie or a romance drama, all within a single video clip. It even provides an in-built video-sharing platform, Popular, to which you can upload your creations and gain visibility and feedback.

Play

So, whether you’re into making the most interesting Vines or shooting your take on Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’, experience for yourself how Vizmato has made video creation addictively simple. Android users can download the app here and iOS users will have their version in January.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Vizmato and not by the Scroll editorial team.