The UK Asian Film Festival opened with their first film, Ajji – a gripping movie about one grandmother’s quest to find justice for her granddaughter’s rape…
By Tasha Mathur
WHILE I had heard all the warnings beforehand, nothing could have prepared me for the gripping, gritty movie that is ‘Ajji’.
Directed by Devashish Makhija, the film begins with the horrific rape of nine-year-old Manda (Sharvani Suryavanshi) by Dhavle (Abhishek Banerjee), the son of a well-known legislative member. As he is known for abusing his power by forcing himself on women of all ages, Manda’s family are compelled to brush it under the carpet – as even local police threaten to hinder their trade.
Enter Ajji – Manda’s grandmother – a limping, aged woman. Unable to accept the situation, this unassuming woman, quietly and methodically plans how to gain her revenge on Dhavle. Without giving too much away, what she does next is both shocking but equally satisfying.
On the surface, ‘Ajji’ is a social commentary on the lack of justice for victims of sexual violence in India. But on second glance, it’s a multi-faceted movie which addresses a variety of issues from religion to government policy. Makhija cleverly weaves hidden metaphors within the movie from a flickering tube light to the tape wrapped around Ajji’s glasses, to question the political situation in India.
In a Q&A after the screening, Makhija explained his motivation for the film: “I wanted a man to know what it felt like to be violated.”
Does he hope this movie could make a difference? “I’m under no delusions of instigating change. I just wanted to ask questions – I can’t provide answers.”
While this is a difficult watch, it’s the least we can do to become more aware of the barbaric nature of rape and the plight of the victims afterwards. And hopefully we can find some answers along the way.
Rating: **** (out of 5)
*The screening was held at Regent Street Cinema in conjunction with charities Asian Circle and Oxfam who both fight hard for women’s rights.
*More screenings of ‘Aaji’ click here and see below listing info:http://tonguesonfire.com/granny-ajji/
*UK Asian Film Festival continues until March 31 (national), please see: http://tonguesonfire.com/