Why Ajji is Like No Other Indian Rape-Revenge Drama

Pop Culture

Why Ajji is Like No Other Indian Rape-Revenge Drama

Illustration: Palak Bansal/Arré


t 65 years old, a frail and arthritic grandmother (a terrific Sushama Deshpande), the eponymous lead of Ajji, is the weakest link in her family of four. Like countless others in the country, her family occupies the lowest rung of the social ladder, living illegally in a claustrophobic slum. They’re an ordinary, hard-working family: Her son works 14 hours at a powerloom factory, her daughter-in-law cycles the whole day selling street food, and Ajji herself works as a small-time neighbourhood tailor.

The only family member left untouched by the grim reality of their complete powerlessness in the social hierarchy, is Ajji’s nine-year-old bubbly granddaughter Manda. Until the night she is brutally raped, and tossed away carelessly in a ditch. Despite Manda almost instantly recognising her rapist – the son of a powerful local politician – the family is destined to find no recourse. The injustice meted out to them is as much a consequence of their social exclusion, as it is a result of the privilege enjoyed by Manda’s predator, such as having the cop investigating the rape on payroll.