The biggest roadblock which comes up as we watch ‘Akelli’ is the believability factor.
Here’s Jyoti (Nushrratt Bharuccha) from Punjab, a young woman desperate to find a job that will pay off the loans her family — a weepy mother and teenage niece — is buried under. An uncaring agent (Rajesh Jais) talks her into accepting a supervisory position at a garments factory job in Mosul, Iraq, and once there, she finds herself in a nightmarish situation, despite the presence of her protective colleague (Nishant Dahiya): the far-off war-drums are coming nearer and nearer, the factory is raided by an ISIS like bunch, and she is taken off to be turned into a sex slave.
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How she struggles with fear, and then overcomes it, fleeing from a den of leering men, along with a couple of other victims, takes up the second half of the film, which is already too long at the interval point. We’ve barely recovered from the gratuitous bombing of a little girl, which is meant to tell you how dangerous the place is but leaves you nauseous, when we are flung into further travails, which keep piling up one after another. How Jyoti manages to escape, even as she is imprisoned in dark dungeons, surrounded by armed men who chase after her in the desert, makes for a tiring watch, where all you do is wonder how we are meant to swallow the going-ons on screen.
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You also wonder how Fauda star Tsahi Halevi, making his Bollywood debut, manages to go through his paces with a straight face: he is meant to be a lusty monster with a penchant for handcuffs, and goes about ravaging the hapless Indian woman, while other terrified women (one of them a young child) wait their turn. Bharuccha is sincere, but there’s only this much she can do in a plot which is nothing but a giant improbable bubble.
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Akelli movie cast: Nushrratt Bharuccha, Nishant Dahiya, Tsahi Halevi, Rajesh Jais, Amir BoutrousAkelli movie director: Pranay MeshramAkelli movie rating: 1 star