Allegedly based on a true incident reported on page 7 of a local newspaper, the film was a scathing satire on the corruption in the judicial system and the victimization of the underprivileged by the able and the powerful.
Aakrosh forms a part of the series of works, based around explorations in violence, written by noted playwright Vijay Tendulkar, who had earlier written Shyam Benegal's Nishant (1974) and went to write Govind Nihalani's next surprise breakaway hit, Ardh Satya (1983).
Here the victim is shown so traumatized by excessive oppression and violation of his humanity, that he does not utter a single word almost for the length of the film and only bears a stunned look, though later he uses the same violence as a tool to express his own sense of violation and rage.
Basically, the story is of a peasant who is oppressed by landowners and his foremen while trying to eke out a living as a daily laborer. His comely wife, played by Smita Patil, is raped by the foreman who then has him arrested to hide his own crime. His wife commits suicide out of shame. The police bring him to the funeral grounds in manacles and shackles to complete the Last Rites of his dead father by lighting the funeral pyre — which in the Hindu religion only the son has the right to.
Standing beside the burning funeral pyre, he sees the foreman looking at his pre-pubescent sister with lustful eyes. Divining the fate that is in store for her, he grabs an axe and chops off his sister's head to forestall her dire future as perpetual victim, as he sees it. Upon completion of this hapless act of a desperate and downtrodden man, he raises his face towards the skies and screams, and screams and screams — the second time that we hear his voice in the movie (the first is in a flashback, as he vainly attempts to rescue his wife) — a device similar to Andrei Tarkovsky's showing of the icons in brilliant color at the end of his three-hour black-and-white film Andrei Rublev.
- Genre: Thriller
- Runtime: 144 Minutes
- Awards: 1980 Devi Dutt National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi, 1981 Govind Nihalani Filmfare Award for Best Director, Naseeruddin Shah Filmfare Award for Best Actor, Om Puri Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor
Aakrosh (English: Cry of the Wounded) is a 1980 Hindi arthouse film directed by auteur Govind Nihalani and written by renowned Marathi playwright Vijay Tendulkar.
The film starred Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri and Amrish Puri in lead roles and went to win 1980 National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi and several Filmfare Awards.
It won the 'Golden Peacock' for the Best Film at the International Film Festival of India.
This was the debut film of Nihalani, who went on to be known for his dark and frighteningly real depictions of human angst in other landmark alternative movies such as Ardh Satya and Tamas.
It is in the list of 60 films that shaped the Indian film industry spanning six decades.