Thursday, June 23, 2005

Anniyan - The Men Within

Director Sankar seem to have this crush on duality. The characters in his movies always have two ( and now more than two :) ) characters intertwined within themselves. The depiction of this duality, although, has been varied, without repetition, and there, i believe, hangs the success of this director.

In Gentleman, it was this brahmin "appalam" seller who converted into the scheming, brave and strong 'Robin hood'. In Muthalvan, it was the govt service loving laid back cameraman with a strong politician alter ego ( remember the " Kadasile enneyum arasiyal vaadi aakkiteengale!!" ). In Indian, it was this frail old retired man who inverted into a brave soldier of truth. In jeans it was the two look alikes, dress alikes, talk alikes who took the focus and in Anniyan, it is the 'Rules Ramaswamy', a staunch brahmin lawyer with a penchance for "rules" who heralds fearsome and suave impersonations within himself.

It is very difficult to try and review the movie that takes you by your throat, pulls you into the matrix, drenches you with fantastic panorama, without really being a spoiler to the plot. "Rules Ramasamy" is the stenciled Triplicane Iyengar with the trademark Kudumi, and a i-stay-out-of-trouble attitude to life. So much so, that when he is getting thoroughly beaten up by the baddies he mumbles "naan thayir saadham saapidaravan, ennale thiruppi adikka mudiyaathu"! And, he has a obsession with rules. He wants everyone to do thier duty, to do the best they can and not to be corrupted. And because he has studies law, he takes it upon himself to take cases where the common man is fleeced by corrupt non-rule-following baddies. Needless to say, he loses all his cases under the clout of influence and money that his opponents have.

"Rules" discovers a web site http://www.anniyan.com/ where the site urges common man to log in information about any wrong doer. To give vent to the frustration, "rules" continuously logs in information about the wrong doers.

Enter "Anniyan". With a lock of hair hiding his face and a voice that beats Intergalactic transmission easily, the fearsome avatar of "the punisher" appears myseteriously and kills the wrong doers. Every wrong doer is punished as he should be in Hell - Gruesome, scary and more than a murder, a statement to the world.

To top all this, "Rules" has this un-proclaimed love to Nandini, the pretty doe-eyed Aiyengar Damsel next door. But Nandini is the girl of the world and has almost zero tolerance for the Ramasami who barks rules into everything. Well, it is difficult to love a person who calls the TT and returns the dinner that is given in Indian railways because, the curd is watery; or who calls the TT because the Railways washroom is dirty; or who calls the TT because the railways fan does not work!

Enter "Remo". The smashing dashing catwalk burning male sensation of the fashion world. and one who's dearly in love with "Naandi" - the dude way of calling 'Nandini'. In between sizzling yana Gupta laden ramp walks, or rides in flashy bikes, Remo steals the heart of Nandi. And Nandi reciprocates, desperately in love with Remo, the flashy avatar with the flashy accent but "with a true heart"

Nandini decides to buy a plot. (No, not the plot of the movie, but a plot of land! :) ) Going along with usual practice, she undervalues it so that she can "cheat the govt. of paying extra tax". "Rules Ramasami" refuses to help her do this deal as cheating is against his rule. And Anniyan has to come in as the sole purpose of his avatar is to remove the world of cheating souls.

Ramasami loves Nandini. Nandini loves Remo. And Anniyan wants to Kill Nandini. The World come crashing in. And so do the walls around the three characters. What follows has Prakash Raj as the inspector who wants to resolve the case, Nasser as the doctor who helps identify the case, Vivek as the CBI inspector and also the hero's friend and a whole lot of special effects to handle the movie!

Packed with thrills and kills, the movie rocks you. But, on another line, "Hangover" is the top most thing about this movie.

Director Sankar seems to have a hangover from Boys, and that is so clear in the language that Anniyan and Prakash Raj uses. Usage of local conversational words, stopping right at the moment beyond which the censor boards would censor is spread throughout the movie.

Actor Vikram still has his hangover from "Pithamahan". The pout that he uses as the evidence of being innocent is so clearely a carry over from his previous hit.

The fight scenes and couple of "jump and chase" scenes are hangovers of the Matrix Neo and the 10,000 Smith's fight; and the Agents jump on running cars during Trinity's Chase scenes.

The be good and be patriotic lecture scene in the stadium gives you a hangover the TV broadcast in Indian.

One of the climax scenes (where the alter ego of Anniyan comes and goes ) give you a hangover of the brilliant performance of Edward Norton in the movie Adaptation of William Diehl's Primal Fear.

But then, putting all this together, creating as gripping and taut a storyline as has been created, is another task all together. And Sankar together with OSCAR Ravichandran;s almost unlimited money flow has done an exemplary job of the same. You are riveted to the chair, looking at the screen wanting such a messiah to exist in real life and living anniyan's life. He could have gone low on couple of things though - Specifically, the be-good-for-your-country lecture by Anniyan. We have had so much of talks in so many movies, that this time, it almost rings artificial and false. And on all this, the gargantuan effort could have fallen flat on the director's face had it not been for the brilliant acting performance of Vikram.

Vikram, although hints at the Pithamagan performance with his pout, holds up his performance with brilliance. His alteration between multiple egos are convincingly scary. In one of the climax scenes where he alterates between his egos is simply superb ( for lack of other words ). He swings through the "Kadavul paathi, mirugam paathi, kalanthu seitha kalavai naan!" so believably easy. As easy and as effortless as possible. As much s he is able to induce fear through Anniyan, the next minute he is able to convert himself into the suave Remo and the next into the Kudumi tied Rules Ramasami. Effortlessly, he induces comedy into scenes like where he writes an apparent love letter to Nandini as through it is a letter to a govt. dept. Although the accent seems slightly artifical and put up, his characterization of Remo also holds him as a very attractive guy ( as he says at one point to Naandi - 'Don't come to see me if your heart is weak!" ) Physically, he has grown, seems to have put on weight expecially a flabby paunch. 6 pacs of (fl)Abs? :) But the thing worth mentioning is the "generality" of Vikram's face. He looks smashing in any kind of hair do and any kind of moustache- beard set up! Almost makes me wish for a face like that :)

The supporting cast is as good as the main. Prakash raj shines - brightly as the vengeful inspector. His acting has almost become trademark and iconic and he easily portrays the specific role with flamboyance. Vikram, manages to be the funny bone especuially the scenes where he inserts his characteristic punch lines while trying to fix up Ramasami and nandini ( " looking for a Kalai-'mama'-mani award" as he says at one point ) Nedumudi Venu is a he always is. EAsily slips into the character so easily that you forget that there is an actor there - You almost belive in the character. Sada exists in the sidelines - a pretty face an a doll like appearence. Not much of a scope there for that role :)

The Choreography is indulgent. From the Tulip Gardens to km's of pinted roads and rocks, everything exists. Colorful, Bouyant and Vibrantly loud, the music has it's own pace and charm. But then, on a storylinme like this, it does hamper the narration. It could not have done any harm to have cut down on couple of songs here and there.

On the whole, the movie is definitely more than paisa-vasool. Slick direction, indulgent choreography, wonderful casting and performances up to the expectation from each of them - Go watch it! :)