India | 2017 | 104 min | Hindi
When ten-year- old Manda is raped and left for dead in her slum, her elderly grandmother, or ajji, vows to take revenge. Critically ill, Manda identifies her attacker as Dhavle, the son of a local politician but, rather than question him, the police pry into the lives of Manda’s parents, reprimanding them for illegally selling street food and taking overlong factory shifts. With her own health beginning to fail, Ajji knows she is not long for this world but remains fuelled by a lifetime of oppression and injustice—trapped in a social hierarchy in which the rich and powerful are untouchable. Thus, after enlisting the help of a prostitute and a butcher, she hones the skills she will need for an act of retribution.
Born and raised in Kolkata, Devashish Makhija has a degree in economics from St Xavier’s College. Following a brief stint in advertising, he moved to Mumbai to pursue filmmaking. Devashish is best known for writing and directing the feature Oonga (2013), and has recently directed the shorts Absent (2016) and Taandav (2016), the latter of which is showing at this year’s DIFF. He is also the author of an anthology of 49 short stories. Speaking about Ajji, Devashish says, “I was trying to subvert the archetype of rape and revenge. Often such films make either the rape or the revenge—or both—‘sexy’. And I refused to do that. I wanted the horror of the act and the (lifelong?) aftermath to transfer to the viewer.”