Watching “Just Akasmika”, I kept thinking of the excellent reality show, “Masterchef Australia”. More precisely, I was thinking of the one time I saw an exquisite chicken, cheese and ham preparation and thought to myself, “Hey I can do that!”
I bring up this experience because I imagine Himayat Khan, the director of “Just Akasmika” felt something similar while watching the Alfred Hitchcock classic “Rear Window”.
Although the ‘amateurs’ on "Masterchef Australia" made it look easy, my experiment at copying them ended with something that looked like ET mud-wrestling Arnold Schwarzenegger and tasted worse. Himayat Khan’s “inspired” film goes much the same way.
This is the main thrust of the film – a young man, Shankar (Vinod Patil), sees his famous artist neighbour (Tilak Shekar) doing chilling things like dragging a bloody sack or carrying a body in a cardboard box out of his house, but can’t find proof and can’t get anyone to believe him about any of it.
But Himayat doesn’t seem to have been confident of pulling off the film with just that formula alone, and so he throws in extra ingredients in hopes of finding a recipe that pleases everyone.
So the film starts off with Shankar being an orphan who’s reunited with his parents 18 years after he gets lost. But that plot point only serves to bring him to the house where he sees his neighbour doing crazy things. And one doesn’t get why the film couldn’t have started with him being there in the first place.
Then there’s the love story with Aarohi (Sanjjanaa Galrani), which could have been an integral plot point if the director had done more to build it up. But all he has in this department is a convoluted story of childhood sweethearts reunited and another copied idea, this time from stop-motion music videos like the song “Her Morning Elegance” by Oren Lavie.
The neighbourhood gang of young men alternate between harassing the young neighbourhood women on the street and trying to beat up Shankar for encroaching their turf. They fail to induce the necessary action thrills with a number of hastily put-together chase and fight sequences that largely involve Shankar jumping over motorbikes and terraces in a bad imitation of parkour sequences that are all the rage in Hollywood these days.
The main plot of the suspicious neighbour and his night-time activities seems almost an afterthought, after all these sub-plots and diversions until an abrupt and very confusing climax.
You can see the actors earnestly trying their best to hold this film together. And newcomer Vinod Patil’s enthusiasm is endearing in some ways. If the film had kept to a single plot and just played off the enthusiasm of the young actors, it might have gone somewhere. But the script and the direction are such a letdown that you can’t blame them for this film that looked much like my Masterchef dish at the end of the runtime.