flopped, Rajnikanth decided to act in Chandramukhi
, which was completely different from his previous efforts. But Shankar has chosen the opposite route. To put the failure of Boys
behind him, the director has fallen back on the genre that defined him as a director and gave him the most success - the socially conscious entertainer with a message. Anniyan
has the shadow of Indian
looming large over it and is a little weak on logic but in typical Shankar-style, is definitely entertaining.
Ramanujam(Vikram) or Ambi, an orthodox Brahmin, is by his own admission, a conformist - a stickler for rules - who is pained by the lack of civic sense among the people and appalled at their indifference to the ills of society. He is in love with Nithya(Sada) but she is turned off by his straightlaced approach to life. When Ramanujam learns of Anniyan, a mystery man who promises to mete out punishment to criminals, he reports his concerns on Anniyan's website and Anniyan(Vikram) as promised, addresses them in his own manner. Meanwhile Remo(Vikram), a model who is everything that Ambi isn't, captures Nithya's heart.
Knowing Shankar's track record, it comes as no surprise that Anniyan
is paced just right. The film starts off a bit slow with the focus on Ambi, his disillusionment with society and his one-sided romance. But as Anniyan begins to dominate the proceedings, the pace is cranked up as we learn about the reasons and motivations behind the three main characters. We are then brought to the edge of our seats as the movie races towards its conclusion where Ambi and Anniyan fight, both literally and figuratively, for attention.
We know within a few minutes of Ambi's introduction that Shankar is not aiming for realism. Ambi is too good to be true and his look, kudumi
and all(though we do realise the need for the kudumi
once Anniyan is introduced), and exaggerated accent are certainly not seen in the present day. Remo too is a little exaggerated, which leads me to believe that the exaggeration in the two roles was intentional to distinguish between Vikram's three characters. Anniyan is naturally the most interesting and charismatic of the three. His objective here is to eliminate people's apathy towards society. But he is not completely original as he reminds one of Indian Thaatha
and his MO definitely has shades of the bad guy in Seven
Shankar has taken on a difficult storyline but has sacrificed some logic and cohesiveness in his aim to entertain. The movie has one too many open ends and unanswered questions that are left hanging. But the racy screenplay and accomplished direction ensure that the questions and loopholes are not evident until the end credits have rolled. For instance, Anniyan killing the food preparer just would not have been possible based purely on logistics(the distance, the time required, the fact that Ambi is travelling to Thiruvaiyaru as part of a large group, etc.). But the sequence is staged so well that I didn't start thinking about how Anniyan could have gotten there until much later. Similarly, it is never clear how Anniyan manages to schedule what is essentially a huge press conference. Theoretically, he could never know if he would exist at the specified day and time. But the points he raises during his speech and the way the scene is staged are arresting enough to make us overlook the lack of logic.
Comedy has never been Shankar's strongpoint but he manages to reverse the trend here. Vivek is hilarious whether he is giving ideas to Vikram to reveal his love to Sada or helping Prakashraj in his search for Anniyan. On the other hand, the stunt sequences, one of his strengths, are very disappointing. There are two stunts and both end up being over-the-top with overuse of both wire-fu techniques and the freeze time-slice shots. The fight with the martial arts students is plain ridiculous and wouldn't be out of place in a science fiction movie. Romance is both hit and miss. Ambi's love for Sada, though one-sided, is kinda touching while Sada falling for Remo is cinematic and silly.
Vikram gets a dream role here - a role with enormous scope to perform in a commercial film. And he's upto the challenge. He distinguishes well between the three characters, something that is most evident when he has to shift between them quickly(like the scene at Nasser's office). The two sequences where he alternates between Ambi and Anniyan are terrific and the one with Prakashraj is sure to be spoken about. I was unimpressed with Sada who just doesn't seem suited for big-budget extravaganzas. For some reason she looks very bad when she smiles and feels out of place in the extravagant song sequences. Regular scenes, like when she rejects Ambi or reasons with him about sale of her land, are the only ones where she impresses. Prakashraj gets to look serious and sound intelligent though he eventually does nothing much. Nedumudi Venu is believable as Ambi's father.
The song sequences would've made any other director proud but are a little disappointing coming from Shankar. The shots of the flowers are breathtaking in Kumaari...
but the antics of Vikram and gang rob the song off its charm. Kannum Kannum Nokia...
looks all hi-tech but the choreography leaves a lot to be desired while Kaadhal Yaanai...
is quite ordinary. Both the songs look like a chance for Vikram to appear in a variety of getups. Randankaakka...
is the pick of the songs with its painted roads, lorries and mountains and colorful costumes. Iyengaaru Veetu Azhage...
is picturised richly with colorful but non-gaudy sets. Dialogs are vintage Sujatha - completely down-to-earth, sharp and managing to convey a message without sounding preachy.