“Ajmer 92,” directed by Pushpendra Singh, is a crime drama film that unflinchingly portrays the horrifying true story of the gang rape and blackmailing of over two hundred school and college-age girls in Ajmer, Rajasthan, between 1987 and 1992, as per ground reports, were orchestrated by Youth Indian National Congress leaders (Party name depicted differently in the film). Set against the backdrop of the Ajmer scandal, the film follows the heart-wrenching journey of the victims and their families as they grapple with the aftermath of unspeakable abuse and exploitation.
In “Ajmer 92,” the weight of the entire film rested on the shoulders of the main lead, Madhav, played by Karan Verma. However, despite this pivotal role, his performance fell short of expectations, leaving some room for improvement. As the film’s central character, Verma struggled to deliver a compelling portrayal that could match the intensity and emotion demanded by the narrative. Sumit Singh’s portrayal of Geeta Singh fell short of leaving a lasting impact.
On the other hand, seasoned actors like Manoj Joshi, Sayaji Shinde, Brijendra Kala, Alka Amin, Zarina Wahab, and Rajesh Sharma brought their vast experience and expertise to the table, delivering performances that lived up to their reputations. With their seasoned talents, they breathed life into their respective characters, adding depth and authenticity to the film’s overall storytelling. Some of the supporting cast fell into the trap of overacting, causing moments that felt less authentic and somewhat exaggerated. In the first part of the first half, Karan Verma’s dialogue delivery skills seemed lacking, making it difficult to comprehend his dialogues. However, his simplicity as a journalist was effectively portrayed through his appearance and costumes.
One noticeable aspect throughout the film was that only Karan’s character adopted a Rajasthani accent, while everyone else, including Karan’s character’s parents, spoke in Hindi. This inconsistency raises questions about the authenticity of the language portrayal.
In line with observations of the current generation of actors, it is evident that many emerging talents from metropolitan and over anglicized areas of Mumbai and Delhi tend to incorporate English accents or pronunciations into their Hindi dialogue delivery. This linguistic influence is noticeable in girls who played the roles of the rape victims in the film.
We can also notice this in the portrayals of other mainstream actresses like Ananya Pandey and Janhvi Kapoor, in their respective filmography, further reflecting the prevalent language trends among young actors today.
Pushpendra Singh’s direction in “Ajmer 92” reasonably brings the harrowing story to life on the screen. The film showcases impressive shooting and stunning locations, effectively capturing the essence of Rajasthan’s contrasting beauty and the dark events that transpired within its borders. Singh’s ability to create a powerful and immersive atmosphere, through the choice of locations, adds a layer of authenticity to the narrative.
“Ajmer 92” presents a story that demanded to be told, especially for the current generation who is completely or almost unaware of this atrocious act that took place in 1992 in the historic city of Ajmer. It fearlessly sheds light on a painful chapter in history, shedding a much-needed spotlight on the abuse and exploitation faced by the victims. By narrating this unsettling tale, the film highlights the urgency of addressing such critical incidents.
While the film’s narrative is compelling, the first half introduces several open-ended elements, generating anticipation for resolution in the second half. This strategic storytelling technique, while ambitious, may leave some viewers longing for more closure in the initial segments of the film.
Perhaps, it could have benefitted from tighter editing. The film’s runtime occasionally affects the pacing, leading to a slowdown that might have hindered its overall impact. Shortening the film could have intensified its emotional impact and maintained a more consistent momentum throughout. During my viewing of “Ajmer 92,” I couldn’t help but draw parallels to the popular show ‘Crime Patrol.’ The film’s narrative and presentation gave me a sense of watching an elongated episode of the show. Part of this feeling was attributed to the choice of music, which at times felt somewhat absurd and reminiscent of the style used in such crime-based television series.
The music, while attempting to enhance the intensity of the narrative, occasionally came across as exaggerated, possibly detracting from the realism the film aimed to portray.
The film effectively reflects the mindset prevalent in the families of the rape victims portrayed in the film. Dialogues like “college jaana band”, “yeh tune kya kiya” poignantly depict the regressive mentality that existed during that era. It is disheartening to witness how, in an attempt to safeguard their family’s reputation, the families resorted to restricting their daughters’ lives, believing it would increase their chances of finding a suitable marriage proposal despite being victims of rape. Such actions, however, highlight a deeply flawed perspective. While one can understand the societal pressure faced by families during the 80s and 90s, blaming the girl for the heinous crime committed against her is unequivocally a wrong stand.
The film adeptly portrays the vulnerabilities faced by Hindu girls, highlighting instances where they became victims of exploitative actions carried out by some Muslim men. However, it remains puzzling why the censor board insisted on muting the term “Love Jihad”. This decision seems misguided, as the phenomenon is backed by statistical evidence and reallife occurrences. Censoring a factual term only serves to obscure an important societal issue that deserves open discussion and awareness.
The film fearlessly exposes the engagement of local political leaders, although their party’s name might have been altered, it remains evident from ground reports and verifiable facts that they were indeed affiliated with the Youth wing of Indian National Congress in Ajmer,
and how these youth leaders exploited their positions of power to commit heinous acts of rape and molestation against innocent girls.
Regarding the term ‘Love Jihad,’ while there may be debates surrounding its use, it remains crucial to acknowledge that the perpetrators of such crimes often come from a specific community, while the victims belong to another. Instead of dismissing this issue as a farce, it becomes imperative to raise deeper and more critical questions that transcend ‘sickular’ mindsets.
Conclusively, “Ajmer 92” is the under achievement of the makers, as the same plot could have been, technically and storytelling wise, portrayed better.
If ratings were to be assigned, “Ajmer 92” would undoubtedly earn 2 1/2 stars for delivering the urgent social message it delivers.
Kudos to the producers and makers for their bravery in bringing such a sensitive and critical topic to the forefront, this film and others like these made in recent times highlight the small revolution that the Indian film industry is going through, that is here to stay.