Thursday, June 23, 2005


I watched director Shankar's latest, Anniyan, yesterday. I have lately been out of the loop with Tamil movie releases. The few times that I did hear someone talk about Anniyan, I invariably asked what the buzz was about, and as my memory got refreshed, made a mental note to watch it when it got released. And then promptly forgot why there was a buzz about Anniyan till the next time the name cropped up. So, when my family, recently arrived from India, suggested that we go and watch Anniyan, another memory-refresh session took place, and I excitedly agreed to make a beeline to the local Indian movie-theatre.

After seeing all of Shankar's movies (all of which except Boys got my good-tp-value-for-money rating), I have now come to expect grandeur and entertainment on a lavish scale whenever a movie has a Shankar-tag to it. Anniyan is no disappointment!

I have since read that, at a 27 crore rupees making cost, Anniyan is one of the most expensive Indian movies ever made. Though I have read opinions to the contrary, I did feel that the graphics and cool/colorful look of all songs amply show where the money went. At 3 hours, the movie running time is long - but its 3 solid hours of non-stop entertainment, so no complaints there!

Of the principal characters, I have always liked Vikram and Vivek. Vikram is a _really_ good actor. I doubt if any of the other Tamil actors belonging to the current generation could have pulled off the role with such aplomb. Vivek's comedy, which had gotten rather stale in recent movies, is fresh and laugh-out-loud funny in Anniyan. Satha, the heroine lacks screen-presence and is a so-so dancer/actress. However, since her role majorly consited of wearing tummy-revealing costumes in the dance sequences, having a slim figure was the only real criteria for her selection I guess. Prakash Raj was good as were all the characters playing the parents/doctor and whatever role.

Each of the songs is picturized grandly. All the songs involving the Remo character had a similar look - the stylish, cool (MTV?) look. The other songs each sport a different look. I found one of the song settings and dance movements *very similar* to the "anbe anbe" song in Jeans. Much as I loathe Artificial Ash now, I must say that Satha's performance in the Anniyan song compared very unfavorably with Ash's endearing performance in the Jeans song. Nevertheless, all the songs were entertaining in their own right due to the nice picturisation and did not seem like a huge interruption even though all of them were just inserted in at random times.

The fight scenes have a major hangover from the Matrix style of fighting. I have never cared much for fight sequences. The ones in Anniyan were no exception. I thought all of them were rather long. Especially the last one in the martial arts school was repetitive and boring. After sometime it was obvious that nobody was going to defeat Anniyan - so what was the neccessity to hammer it in from different angles for more than 10 minutes? Also I found some of the scenes very violent (but you should get a second opinion about this - I am the type who has shied away from movies like D because I think it will be too violent).

As with any masala movie, there were inconsistencies. The heroine must have had a lower IQ than the dumb blondes in James Bond movies to not figure out that Remo looked a lot like Ambi until the movie was nearly over. The police are, true to Tamil movie tradition, bumbling idiots. They let the culprit escape even after he is literally handed on a platter to them. There are some more - but lets not quibble.

Some of the scenes reminded me a lot about Shankar's earlier movies. But who cares! I dont mind the "no progress with corruption" slogan being beamed towards me any number of times! Sujatha's dialogues are very natural. The characters just speak like they would do in real life - without props like breathless half sentences to punctuate every dramatic scene, exotic words which no one uses normally and so on.

As I said earlier, at 3 hours, the movie is LONG. But I doubt if you will notice that while the movie is on. The fast-paced screenplay and grand sets will make sure of that. While it is not the best of Shankar's movies or the most intelligent movie ever made, it certainly has the most important ingredient for a good movie - unadulterated entertainment. So, go watch it!!

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