Director: Avinash Das

To see Swara Bhaskar on screen these days is akin to watching a born-to-perform artist completely at ease with a grand stage. She is perhaps the most versatile or “at-ease” actress in Hindi cinema out there today — and the trailer of her latest, the kitschy dancer-versus-system feminist hinterland drama, ‘Anaarkali of Aarah,’ cements this status. Perhaps the first good sign is that one can imagine nobody else essay this role with the flair that she demonstrates in less than three minutes of conventionally edited material.

It’s nice to see Bhaskar finally land more lead roles (‘Nil Battey Sannata,’ and the web-show ‘It’s Not That Simple’), after years of having to be content with merely “stealing the show” as a supporting act in bigger hit films (Tanu weds Manu, Raanjhana). As with most mainstream trailers cut these days, things begin all playful, upbeat and ‘setuppy’ — giving us a colourful peak into the world of ‘the double-meaning diva,’ Anaarkali.

Bhaskar rocks the small-town, bindaas, paan-chewing dancer look, suggesting a lot more than a good voice and a testosterone-filled following. Quickly, we see remarkable actors fill the frames one by one: the ever-fantastic Pankaj Tripathi, followed by the omnipresent Sanjai Mishra.

When the trailer goes into mandatory conflict mode — the phase where each of these cuts reveal far more than they should in order to sell the film to curious watchers — we see why this film could be a little different from the many well-designed middle-India efforts over the years. Mishra, for a chance, plays the antagonist here. In a Pink-ish turn for the worse, as a corrupt, lewd, wig-wearing, tacky-shirt-spouting politician who gets rebuffed by the lady on stage one night, Mishra finally seems to be mixing it up a bit after being in his ‘nice-man eccentric comedy’ zone for years. It’s about time, we say.

The film is visibly about Anaarkali’s struggle against his male-ego-driven revenge, sure to elicit more than a few spunky underdog whistles when it releases. There are quite a few slaps and punches in the trailer, too — perhaps strategically placed dramatic beats to showcase the encouraging, female-centric and aggressive change in tempo of contemporary Hindi cinema. Yes, Bhaskar lands most of these slaps.

The trailer ends with a typically earthy threat in a booming voice (“…or my name isn’t Anaarkali!”) that will hopefully ring across halls next month in a manner that befits the movie’s angry “hero”.

Rating: 3/5