Saturday, June 18, 2005

Anniyan : Review

After his controversial "Boys", Shankar tries his hands in his own area of expertise. A visual treat fantasy with a strong message. Anniyan, in my opinion, is a decent comeback of Shankar. A rave review from Sify rated it as a "Must Watch". That probably had shot up my expectations sky high.

Contains spoilers in italics :-)

Essentially, the theme of the film is a hybrid of Indian and Mudhalvan with a Brahmin backround to give you the Gentleman feel. I simply loved these three Shankar ventures, but this hybrid impressed me lesser than Shankar's earlier attempts.

Read Full Review...

Ambi is a lawyer who goes by the rulebook. A good slice of time is wasted by showing all the crimes happening in the society...lack of civic sense, lack of traffic discipline, lack of sincerity etc etc. People already know this, atleast after watching Shankar's earlier movies. Chopping down these scenes could have easily helped to shorten this unnecessarily long three hour flick. Ambi's lady love lives next door. She hates Ambi for not being practical.

This is when Ambi comes across, which gets information from the public about crimes and defaulters. The criminals are punished according with Garuda Puranam, the Hindu equivalent of Judgement Day. Ambi registers his complaints and Anniyan deals with the criminals by brutally murdering them. The other Vikram, Remo is all set to impress Sada as he is blindly (pun intended) in love with Sada. Who these characters are, why they come into being and how they exist forms the rest of the story.

It is the hurt in Ambi's heart which results in a multiple personality disorder. He wants to deal with criminals, which he is not able to do as Ambi. Anniyan is born. Sada rejects him and Remo is born to impress her.

The high point of Anniyan is Vikram. He has done a brilliant job in portraying the three characters of Ambi, Anniyan and Remo. His voice modulation and body language are a class of its own. The characters have been beautifully merged by Shankar.

Alternating as Ambi and Anniyan within seconds in the last scene has been carried out with panache. A truly laudable perfomance.

The other characters pale in comparison to Vikram's. A protaganist oriented film in every sense. Prakash Raj and Nasser do little cameos. The rest of them are just there to do some crime and die :-)

Vivek seems to have better comedy in store after shedding his montonous and stereotypical "Adapaavi adapaavi". He makes you laugh the little while he is on screen. The best of his punches being...

Vikram : Naan Nadhini (Sada) kitta kaadhal sollanumae.
Vivek : Ava thani-a irukkarchae theliva sollidu, mudinja oru kiss koduthu sollu.
Vikram : Naan-a??
Vivek : Pinna idhukkaga Kamal sir-aya da koopda mudiyum?

Sada is really saadha. I don't know why Shankar could not find a better heroine! She looks pathetic in my opinion. He could have atleast tried some graphics to make her look good. The only time she seems pretty is during the "Kannum Kannum Nokia" song.

Song picturisation in Shankar movies need no introduction. Breathtaking. A major portion of the 27 crores was probably to picturise these six songs. "Kumari" has been shot in a truly unimaginable place. The rows of colourful flowers look stunning. Sada stands out in between spoiling the beauty. The sets for "Iyengar Veetu Azhage" are fantastic. "Kannum Kannum Nokia" has been shot brilliantly in the Petronas towers and the KL airport. The art work and paintings done for "Andankaka Kondaikkari" out of words! "Kadhal Yaanai" does not have anything special though, just a rampwalk fashion show stage and a camera covering Yana Gupta from all the right angles :-)

Graphics...another inevitable part of a Shankar movie. They have been used sensibly at most places. Overdone at times, but one doesn't truly mind an overdose of graphics in a Shankar movie. That's part of the trademark.

Harris Jeyaraj's music sounded better with the visual effects. It took some time for the songs to grow on me when the cassette released, but with Shankar's magic on screen I don't think anybody would not like them. The BGM was good too, but for a small imitation of ARRs Mudhalvan music for Arjun. It went something like "Il thakka sayya, ooh ooh masakkaiya, varaan da anniya". Am definitely sure I have messed up the words a great deal, but after interpetting it the way I did, I said two holy beginning with O, followed soon by another starting with M :-)

For one who has observed these alone, the movie may be an awesome creation of Shankar. But there are lapses, which I felt were palpable.

The first half could have definitely been a lot better. Unnecessary scenes portraying the umpteen number of crimes were clearly a drag. The "Thiruvvaiyaaru Festival" train journey and scenes were also obnoxiously long. So much of time devoted to portray just that Ambi is not a lover boy. The narration could have been a lot crisper. By interval, we were left wondering if Anniyan had taken 2 years to complete coz Vikram had to grow his hair longer. It seemed utter crap to me till then. I knew he was conveying the usual message, which I realise even if I hadn't followed the movie. It's a Shankar movie afterall. But the flow was not smooth.

Romantic scenes between Remo and Nandini were highly irritating. Too filmi to be present in such a movie. The moon hiding itself when Sada looks at it was the height of sarcasm perhaps. Pathetic to say the least! Plus, she not finding any similarity between Remo and Ambi in appearance reminded of MGR movies where a small mole on the right cheek is enough to conceal MGRs identity from the villains.

Every punishment supposedly has a name in Garuda Puranam. Anniyan leaves the name of each punishment jumbled at the crime scene. Why? Probably Anniyan, the animal, is good at solving puzzles.

The stunt sequences, especially the one in a martial arts class was too lengthy and predictably matrixy. My liking for timefreeze shots reached its saturation long ago and is on its way down now. To watch a scene which is an exact replica of Neo Vs 100 agents is a pain in the neck for a Matrix fan like me.

Prakash Raj and Vivek always turn up in mufti at the crime scene to avoid alerting the killer. This completely lacked sense, for the place already had 100s of police officers and forensic experts. Just two extra people and I fail to understand how the killer would be alerted. Such brilliant logic can be found in a book called "100 Bed Time Stories for Laloo".

The way Prakash Raj solves the case is far too childish. A good investigation to show how things fall in place ala Indian, was defintely missing. Instead, we have Vivek surfing the web to inform Prakash Raj, "Sir inga paarunga oru interesting website irukku" was probably a parody of the Police Department? It rather seemed a self mockery.

Ambi, Remo and Anniyan appear instantaneously on the same body as the situation demands. Towards the end, Ambi turns Anniyan the moment he sees a crime happening. Why this was not the case when Ambi was witnessing the crimes on earlier occasions too fails to be understood. Defies logic.

I liked the climax though. But for it, I surely wouldn't have liked the movie even as much as I do now.

On the whole, with a little bit of care this could have been a much more sensible movie. The characterisation is awesome, but the naration failed to impress me. Two years of hard work and 27 crores...I surely expected a better product. At the same time, this is not something which can be completely written off as a flop. I don't think the movie would be a block-buster, but definitely a hit because people just want entertainment when they step in to watch a Shankar movie and on that front people will be satisfied.

On a scale of 10, I would probably give it 6 compared to 9 for Indian and 8 for Mudhalvan. You switch off your mind and you'll probably give it 9.

The message giving part of it is getting boring rather than thought provoking. He is not going to bring about a revolution in India for godsake! He couldn't have got a U/A certificate for BOYS without bribing the authorities afterall! And yeah...lanjam ozhiga! I guess it is high time Shankar changes the theme of his movies. What say??

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