Chances are you might not have seen AakashVaani. Even in multiplexes, it couldn't survive even one week. But it deserved to be seen. Some of the reasons I could think of are as below.
1. Its best bits are poles apart from the best bit of Pyaar ka Punchnama- last film of director Luv Ranjan. To me that shows that the director is not afraid to push his envelope. This genre thing sometimes kills an artist. He is not going to turn into another Imtiaz Ali or worse, another RGV who started with Shiva, rocked with Satya, was okayish with Company and deserved to be stoned for RGV ki Aag. And far more importantly, the director is not being different for the sake of it. The different bits are well directed and make a lot of sense. If you watch only the second half of AkaashVani, you will find it difficult to say that the same director made Pyaar ka Punchnama. And that is a good thing in my book.
2. It says a topical story with loads of sensitivity. And subtlety. And with a degree of taste not commonly found in Bollywood. In short, it is different. Not the “different” said by Rakhi Sawant or Mallika Sherawat everytime they find work. For example, this film raises the issue of marital rape before people started going :O at the mention of marital rape in Justice Verma report.
3. There was a scene in Dil Chahta Hai – the coming of age film of our generation in several ways. It came towards the end of the movie after Aamir Khan had proposed to Preity Jinta. In this scene, Ayub Khan manhandles Preity and is punched by Aamir. I am sure there must have been claps inside the theatre at this point. After all Aamir was behaving like a quintessential male is supposed to. Like a knight in shining armour, saving his lady love. What is not there to adore about?
There is a similar scene in AkaashVani. The girl is manhandled by her husband. His parents stand around being all wimpy. His boyfriend is also there. And the girl goes up and lands a full-bodied slap on her husband. Full “Dhai Kilo ka haath” type slap. I don't know about others, but I clapped at this scene. And I don't know if there is something to adore in it, but I found a lot to admire in this scene.
She doesn't do it because her boyfriend is some napunsak type but because she could do it. Actually later when her douche bag husband comes for her again, his boyfriend does get involved. Now I am not saying that Preity couldn't have hit Ayub Khan but sometimes it is important to show things.
In another scene, the chasm between a typical Indian husband and a housewife is concisely shown in a scene where the husband asks her wife for water in a manner the significance of which can only be seen and not written about. And there are many such scenes in the movie which are easy to gloss over if you are not truly engrossed in the movie. Now that is a big IF, which brings me to my last point.
4. Possibly this is the most important point I could think about. AkaashVani is a good example of how and why not to make a film if as a director you are confused or constrained. I know many people who walk out of a film at interval if they get bored. Simply put, such people will never know why the film was good and all my above points will sound Greek to them. It was as if director decided to come out of his comfort zone only after he had shot half his movie. As if he was hoping that he will come across some bingo moment like that 5 minute speech by Rajjo from Pyaar ka Punchnama.
I have a simple yardstick to judge a movie no matter how classy, pertinent or artistic it might be. A good movie must not bore me. On that count, AkaashVani fails miserably in first half. Fortunately I am not a professional reviewer, so I can turn a blind eye to bad bits while talk about the good ones, but it does get excruciating after a point.
The movie could have been a great counter for something like Cocktail with the stereotyping it depicted. But chances are that the people who decry Bollywood’s misogyny citing examples like Cocktail, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai or the likes will never watch AkaashVani. And the worst part is I can’t even blame them for that. They might counter by saying that they left by the interval and I will have nothing to retort back.
It should be seen so that one may understand how not to screw up in this manner. I should be seen so that some directors out there can understand that it is better to be different and fail rather than be formulaic and boring. Take David for example. It was also a terribly boring movie at points but it got those much needed brownie points for being different.
Sadly, for AkaashVaani, by the time it tried to be different, the brownie was all gone.