Dipen Guhawrote on Jul 23 2009 10:12PM
In "Akrosh", Lahanya Biku (Om Puri) is a young Adivasi who has been accused of killing his own wife (Smita Patil). The film opens with the cremation of this young woman in a scene which conveys an inner tension and physical violence, which is almost unbearable . A young lawyer from the city, idealistic and new to his profession (Naseeruddin Shah) is appointed by the court to defend Biku. The case interests no one as it is considered to be one where the verdict has already been decided. The lawyer, Bhaskar Kulkarni, in several poignant scenes tries to make Biku speak, but the man seems struck silent by his pain and a cold anger. Kulkarni tries to find out what actually happened but meets with resistance from every quarter--the tribals who are terrorised and refuse to speak, a social worker who agrees to help him but suddenly disappears, and finally intimidation and threats to his own life.
Kulkarni stumbles upon a big political cover-up, which he can hardly fathom as the whole town has brought forces together to hide the truth, especially all representatives of authority and the elite. Notwithstanding the obstacles, Kulkarni discovers that Biku's wife was raped and murdered by the town's most prominent politicians and businessmen in a kind of drunken orgy. Ironically, Biku is temporarily freed to participate in his father's cremation and in a sudden horrific act of violence and suffering kills his own sister . This time he has voluntarily become a criminal, faced with his own impotence in the face of society's "justice"---a society which considers his life to be of no consequence . The killing of the sister is undoubtedly to save her from a fate similar to the one suffered by his wife. For the director, the only hope lies in individuals like Kulkarni who fight against all odds to apply the true principles of law and justice.