AAKROSH 1980: The Rage Within

More than 40 years ago Govind Nilhani’s directorial Masterpiece AAKROSH was released, and to date, it is arguably one of the best takes on the caste divide in Indian society as per Hindu mythology. In the film, Naseeruddin shah plays a character of a lawyer named Bhaskar Kulkarni an upper caste who has just started his career as a public prosecutor and his first case is of a man belonging to the Adivasi community, a lower caste basically named Bhiku Lahanya(Om Puri) and the laser who is against him and fighting to send lahanya to jail is also a lower caste person and a very close relative of Kulkarni named Mr. Dushane played by Amrish Puri. This interesting engaging conflict was designed by celebrated Marathi writer Vijay Tendulkar, and it surely has the power to ignite the rage in the audience against injustice and discrimination.

Bhaskar Kulkarni’s character is in a lot of confusion and dilemma, as he is fighting against a man who is like a father figure to him and is fighting for a man who doesn’t give any clues to him and just remain silent in all the court proceeding or personal meeting. But his tough battle is for the sake of justice so he decides to continue besides all pressure. He got death threats, he was attacked, he faced a lot of criticism for his decision, but he held on to the case and it showed him the path to realize how dreadful and heinous is Indian law system and societal order was

The Dramatic pace of the film is slow but the film’s philosophy and socio-cultural representation of Dalit oppression are surreal. The realism in the film is also very hard-hitting as it shows how the upper caste people exploit lower caste people physically i.e through over labor od molesting their women, socially not giving them their basic rights, and economically not giving them enough opportunities or not paying them well. The film also depicted how few powerful people in the bureaucracy control the life of so many insignificant and ordinary people.

The resolution that Tendulkar and Nilhani showed is that of a tragedy where lahanya killed his sister in front of all policemen so that after he goes to jail his sister won’t become prey to the upper cast and powerful brutes just like his wife, and it shows us that they will continue to suffer and exploited by these powerful men until the courts of justice remain blind for them.

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