Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Aanandha Thaandavam

Aanandha Thaandavam is based on Sujatha's famous novel Pirivom Sandhippom (I guess Cheran's earlier film of that name forced director Gandhi Krishna to come up with a new name but Aanandha Thaandavam doesn't quite have the effect of the original title, which encapsulated the crux of the story in those two words). While I haven't read the book, it is safe to assume, based on Sujatha's other works and the universal praise that the novel received, that it is a wonderful story told wonderfully. That makes Aanandha Thaandavam not just a bad movie but a huge disappointment. Something was definitely lost in translation here.

Raghupathy(Sidharth), who has finished his studies and is jobhunting, falls in love with Madhumita(Tamannah), the daughter of his dad's boss. Madhu likes him too and her parents agree to get them married. But the parents change their minds when Radhakrishnan(Rishi), a rich suitor who lives in the US, asks for Madhu's hand and decide to get her married to him. Shortly after Radhakrishnan and Madhu head back to the US, a dejected Raghu decides to pursue higher studies in New York since "living well is the best revenge". It isn't long before he runs into Madhu once again.

Aanandha Thaandavam is a film that is brought down almost entirely by is characterization. Leading the parade is the lead pair, who probably sounded good on paper but look terribly wrong onscreen. There is nothing wrong with their fundamental characters but the characters are put across in a way that makes them close to despicable. Take Tamannah, for instance. She is supposed to earn our sympathy as a girl who is playful, naieve, meek and has her life controlled by those around her. But she actually comes off as an immature girl who destroys Sidharth's life by cheating him, leading him on and never letting him live in peace. Not that Sidharth is really guilt-free either. We are obviously suppsed to view him as someone who is unable to forget his first love and suffers because of it. But he seems to be someone who is dumb, spineless and completely lacks self-respect.

Sidharth and Tamannah are fundamentally good but suffer because their characters are not translated well to screen. Many of the supporting characters, like Tamannah's parents(with their money-oriented natures) or Rishi(with his ridiculously overdone NRI behavior), are intrinsically dislikeable though. Even Kitty, one of the few characters with a postive character arc, doesn't come off as very likeable with his supposedly-radical thoughts and advice. The end result of this is that the film's first half ends up feeling like the antithesis of a Vikraman film i.e. one in which everybody is bad. So its not a pleasant feeling watching it with no one to root for.

The film introduces a few new characters - and subsequently, relationships - once Raghu lands in the US. They, especially Rukmini, fare better than the others. Rukmini's family is a nice portrait of an NRI family that hasn't lost touch with its roots and the camaraderie among its members is nice. Even Kitty finally shows us that he is a good man. Unfortunately, this doesn't rub off on Tamannah and Sidharth. Tamannah finally gets the chance to earn our sympathy but her choice of actions and timing doesn't exploit it and instead, further earns our irritation. Same goes for Sidharth(to a lesser extent though) too. The fact that he goes when Tamannah calls him, hurting several others in the process, doesn't raise his already-damaged image in our eyes.

Tamannah struggles in a badly-etched character, swaying between seeming innocent and seeming plain mentally imbalanced. Sidharth is alright though he sounds a lot like Ravikrishna. Rukmini, who was in Bharathiraja's Bommalaattam, is likeable and expressive. Rishi overacts with a bad accent and an even worse wig(with a bald patch!) Kitty uses his soft demeanor well, especially in the second half. G.V.Prakash delivers a good album after a couple of lacklustre efforts and Gandhi Krishna shows a nice eye for visuals in picturizing the songs. Pattu Poochi... and Kallil Aadum... are both very catchy and feature some nice locations. Megam Pole... reflects Sidharth's mental state perfectly with Shankar Mahadevan's passionate singing and the dark setting and costumes. Poovinai..., inspite of the ridiculous lead-in, is pleasing while Kanaa Kaangiren... is choreographed well in some nice locations and with eye-catching costumes and props.

Aanandha Thaandavam is a sad dance.


At 12:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tamannah is everywhere...I need a break!!

At 5:43 AM, Blogger Fake Indian CineStar said...

I hated the lead pair. Tamanna tries to play cute but her expressions are all over the place. Time for her to watch some old tamil movies to learn what acting really is.

At 6:54 AM, Anonymous ram said...

I havent seen this movie...dont plan on doing so, given all the -ve reviews...but I have to say this about things getting "lost in translation." it happens whenever the "vision" of the original isn't captured by the one doing the adaptation. be it a remake of a film in another language or an adaptation of a novel, there is a certain "spirit" that has to be captured...two examples: a long time ago, i remember watching "dayavan" (hindi nayagan) on tv...i watched that terrible movie thinking, "how did they mess it up so badly?" and i remember later reading mani's interview where he said, "they missed the point." my mum, when she watched PC Sriram's "Vaanam Vasappadum," kept talking about how irony, a notable element in Sujatha's writings, can never be captured effectively on screen unless the Director truly understands every nuance of Sujatha's writing...

At 9:45 AM, Blogger karthik sp said...

Aanandha Thaandavam is a sad dance.

is in like suntv top ten

At 6:48 PM, Blogger Dot said...

These days heroines are portrayed either as a pickle or as a dim-wit.

The trailer was impressive, I thought it was going to be a thriller movie.

At 9:05 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

anon, but she's had just 2 movies(this and 'ayan') in recent past, right?

fake, yep, lead pair was the film's biggest problem. and not sure if it was tamannah or the bad character :)

ram, perfectly put. IMO, adapting a book is more difficult than remaking a film. more so when the way the story is told is as good as or even better than the story itself. the sheer pleasure that comes from reading good writing just can't be captured. thats the case in novels like this and 'kite runner' :)

karthik, i don't usually try to do it but this was too easy to pass up :)

Dot, problem is that here one isn't sure what the heroine is!
i don't remember seeing the trailer. will try to catch it online :)

At 10:41 PM, Anonymous G@|\|$ said...

Has Pasanga released there, Balaji? It is getting rave reviews here. I havent seen it yet though. Maybe this weekend....

At 11:07 PM, Blogger moe said...

tam looked like a child/idiot for her age. it was confusing to fix her on a character.

sid.. why does our heros think that they are good in dhaadi.

this would have been an interesting story at that time. not sure even if we read it now, it's as engaging as it promised to be..

At 11:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tamannaah acted really well esp the climax..She is definitely way ahead of the current ones i.e nayan,shreya

At 7:20 PM, Anonymous Nithz said...

Throughout watching the movie, i think she did her best especially in climax..That's it!!~

At 10:52 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

Gans, nope, hasnt released here. waiting to catch it :)

moe, the story might feel outdated but sujatha's writing's always been timeless :)

anon, difficult to judge based on this film since it was such a poor character :)

nithz, yes, considering her performance in this movie, she did her best in the climax :)

At 4:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The movie is quite faithful to the books, especially the first one. The highlight of the books were Raghu's thoughts, his anguish, that doesn't translate to the screen. His father's lecture at the end of the first book was another highlight, and the movie has only a fraction of it. I guess having a long monologue (like Parasakthi) is not done any more. Tam's portrayal of Madhu is on the money, with respect to the book. Madhu was irritating in the book, and she is irritating in the movie!

Another Balaji


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