Republic of Akhanda: Where fiction gets real!

Akhanda - Kartik Dayanand Boddapati


In early 2021 I wrote a blogpost called “The Age of Bhakti”. The summary or core theme of the post was this:


When society and its institutions fail...we have no other option but to depend on the divine.

 

The recent Telugu blockbuster ‘Akhanda’ is a manifestation of the same concept in an over-the-top commercial format.

 

Most movies operate in the first part of the summary I shared — where society’s institutions fail and a do-gooder hero who is usually above the law of the land comes in to fix things.

 

In the process our heroes even break the laws of physics as if it is their birthright, and we accept it without questioning or wondering how such things are possible. The whole act of watching movies is a process of suspension of disbelief.

 

The legendary actor Balakrishna is known to do these gravity and logic defying acts in the most convincing manner and his two previous collaborations with the director Boyapati Srinu have been huge blockbusters at the box office. Akhanda is their third outing together.

 

But this time they go beyond the regular do-gooder hero and venture into divine territory in a manner that is unheard of till now.

 

The movie clicked in a massive way at the box-office and is still running in theatres after completing 50 days and having an OTT release. It seems to have thrown its audience into a trance.

 

It is silly to intellectualize or analyze some movies outside of their fictional context, but I am going to make an exception for Akhanda since it has the capacity to easily blur the lines between fiction and reality.

 

This post is my reality check for the not-so-fictional context of the movie.

 

Here it goes…

 

Balayya 1:

 

Akhanda starts with the staple Balayya-Boya combo hero. Let’s call him Balayya 1 since it is a double role.

  

Balayya 1 is a law unto himself who can bash up the bad guys. He is also a sort of social reformer with the ability to turn the bad guys into good guys. He stresses on the importance of education. Says pure minds create clean society and great future. He sets up a hospital. His wife is a collector who came up with a hard-earned education. She’s a role model for society too. He even believes in the political system and one of his ardent followers is a powerful minister.

 

He is a modern man who believes in the institutions of society and fights hard to keep them intact.

 

However, there is a barrage of bad guys who are even more powerful than him and they literally pulverize everything he stands for into oblivion.

 

Even before we reach the interval point of the film Balayya 1 becomes a mute spectator. I am not kidding; he doesn’t even have a single dialogue for the rest of the movie.

 

When things are so bad, as the formula goes – we need divine intervention and Akhanda is the answer.

 

At this point reason is overtaken by the divine.

 

Balayya 2 as Akhanda:

 

We have seen many movies in the past where there is divine intervention by God to fix things.

 

We are used to the format of temple bells ringing and our hero gaining some sort of divine power to finish off the villains. We have seen Tuffy gain divine powers to unite Salman and Madhuri in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. We have seen Ramya Krishna as Ammoru to finish evil.

 

We are used to the idea of divine intervention, and it is an accepted form or storytelling.

 

Akhanda takes this acceptance to an entirely new level. His very introduction scene starts with him pouring life into a child who is almost dead.

 

He then goes on to kill, with his Trishul, all the bad guys who were chasing that girl and her mother. They are none other than Balayya 1’s daughter and wife.

 

What Akhanda continues to do from that point onwards is quite fascinating. He claims to be ‘Shiv ka Sainik’ but with all the powers of a God within him. The bad guys keep getting worse and he goes on trampling them left and right.

 

When questioned by law enforcement he says they can put a criminal in a CELL, but he sends them directly to HELL. Akhanda claims he is doing ‘Krimi Samharam’ – pest cleaning.

 

Here are some more of his classic lines when questioned by law enforcement.

 

o   You studied law; I studied the divine – both are not same.

o   You search for God; I live with God – both are not same.

o   Your family is your world; the world is my family – both are not same.

 

He basically not just implies but directly says that he is not human and our laws don’t apply to him.

 

He also goes on to say things like this:

 

o   If you say something it is just sound; if I say something it is divine will.

o   God is father of creation, nature is mother — their child is science. That is the TRUTH!

o   Ask God to bless you; don’t ask him to show his face.

 

The film has been in the news for its incredible background music by Thaman, with some theaters in the US putting up posters saying they cannot play the movie with volume beyond a certain range for fear of blasting their speakers.

 

But the real blasts in the movie are the dialogues and the setup which has enough dynamite to blow anyone’s mind space.

 

There is one segment where Akhanda speaks about the significance of temples which really resonated well with many. It is at such places that reality starts to overlap fiction.

 

The biggest takeaway among all the dialogues is not a fictional line but a Sanskrit line that’s been in existence for ages.


Ahimsa Paramo Dharma. Dharma himsa tathaiva cha.

Non-violence is the ultimate dharma. So too is violence in service of Dharma.


We heard the Ahimsa Paramo Dharma line many times in its truncated form, immortalized by Mahatma Gandhi and his doctrine of non-violence. It has become so ingrained in us, not just as Indians but as a distinctively Hindu trait that non-violence is our only path.

 

The complete quote uttered by Akhanda however comes as a rude shock to many of us. It kind of endorses the concept of a holy jihad. It changes the image of a typical Trishul wielding sadhu from a peaceful entity into a person who endorses violence to protect dharma.

 

It suddenly puts into perspective the stark contrast between Hinduism and Hindutva.

 

There has been a lot of debate on these words in the recent past and Akhanda kind of makes us see it in a new light.

 

Ahimsa under Himsa:


Akhanda normalizes violence as an accepted form of justice. The ahimsa paramo dharma quote is in danger of not being attributed to non-violence anymore.

 

If one listens to Akhanda’s dialogues and the speeches from the recent Haridwar sadhu summit you won’t find much of a difference at a fundamental level. Most were appalled at how sadhus can speak of violence and Akhanda provides the answers to that question.

 

Akhanda’s Hindutva on steroids formula is ripe for a Hindi remake.

 

If the larger Hindutva audience gets to know about the existence of this movie it will be terrific cannon fodder for further normalisation of the calls for violence against pests and what not.

 

With the rise of the BJP’s ideology and the likes of Yogi Adityanath, we are not even in the territory of fiction; it is a reality we are slowly getting to comprehend now.

 

It is silly to intellectualize or analyze a commercial Telugu movie to such an extent, but Akhanda is a unique case of fiction intersecting with a sliver of reality of current times, with consequences we can’t imagine yet.

 

You can ask me one question now.

 

One might say, don’t live under a rock. BJP in the Telugu states already knows about this movie, and they are not using it as a cannon fodder to drive their agenda, so stop imagining things.

 

The funny truth is – the cause and the recourse in this matter lies in who played the character of Akhanda.

 

Balakrishna is the major pillar of the Telugu Desam Party, founded by his father, and now run by his brother-in-law Chandra Babu Naidu.

 

Any promotion of this movie by the BJP in the Telugu states will only end up benefiting the TDP, hence the catch-22 situation for them. Balakrishna is both the problem as well as the solution here. Life can’t get stranger than this.

 

If Akhanda gets remade as-is in Hindi with a possible title like Shiv Ka Sainik – it is sure to influence the psyche of Gandhi’s India and rewrite history into a new India that most of us might find unfamiliar. It is already happening one WhatsApp forward at a time.

 

I would any day bet for our do-gooder Balayya from the first half to run a ‘Republic of Reason’ rather than wait for a ‘Republic of Akhanda’.


I don't know about you; let me know what you think.

 

Till then,

Cheers!!!

Kartik Dayanand Boddapati


Spread the word:


Comments

Trending posts this week

3 Idiots: Confusing a Nation!

K.G.F vs K.G.F: Why I like Chapter 1 better than Chapter 2

The Imposter: Why I don’t like Narendra Modi!

RAM GOPAL VARMA : The TRUTH about The MAN - Part 01

The Legacy of Manam!

Secret ingredient for great movies - Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo and more!

The Age of Bhakti: A Prescription for Disaster!