Anniyan: No Stranger
If I were to write this review in one line, I'd say "Gentleman, Part 3, Indian, Part 2."
I must admit I was a little apprehensive about this when I saw the first preview of Anniyan, Shankar's latest Rs.28 crore block bluster. "Aww... I thought to myself, this is way too familiar." The patterns were so Shankar-like, it could hit you a mile away from the theatre. Good man, affected by society, rejected by the courts decides to take control, turns Robinhood, uses "unusual methods to bring justice."
"Ambi" a traditional Iyyengar boy is a lawyer Rules Ramanujam who is enraged by the casual indifference he sees on the streets everyday. He is frustrated by every situation he is unable to change : bad quality brakewire, men molesting women in MTC buses, people undervaluing property. He decides to send his complaints to Anniyan, a modern day, self-styled messiah who promises to deliver justice, through the latter's website. And what follows is not only unusual, but also stomach-churning in parts.
In Anniyan, Shankar has been bitten by the same bug that bit Chandramukhi. So, he throws in some psychiatric theory about Multiple Personality Disorder through a fat-ageing Nasser who annoys by saying "Personolty" repeatedly, hoping that that science will over ride the rest of the mumbo jumbo in the movie. Some hope THAT!
Clearly, Vikram wants to do a "Sethu" or "Pithamagan" with every movie he makes (barring thorough entertainers like Dhool, Gemini), and thinks he can show his acting prowess by rolling his eyes (in innocence or anger), indulging in melodrama or crying. What a build up Prakash Raj gives him in Anniyan. He says at one really "insane" part of an extended climax, "Naan Sivaji Paarthirukken, MGR Paarthirukken, Kamal, Rajini Ellam Paarthirukken. Aana unna mathiri oru nadiganai paarthathillai" (or something to that effect). Wonder why the audience, largely appreciative of even the lowest moments of the movie, howled at that particular dialogue?
Strangely, Anniyan runs on a U certificate, despite the violence and gore that permeate the movie, especially the second half. That's when Personna 3 Anniyan seems to take over, almost whole. The idea of a man being burned in a vat of oil or leeches sucking the blood out of another is not really ideal pre-dinner fare.
This said, I must also admit there are some parts of the movie that are thoroughly engaging, like the family's trip to Thiruvaiyaaru, "Ambi's" attempts at wooing Sada (and not Personna 2 Remo's. So wannabe, Vikram. Give it up, buddy!). Oh well, I might as well say all parts of the movie when Vivek appears. He's on a roll, this time, that man! His return to Tamil comedy is a big bang and some of the jokes in that movie will come to stay.
The point of the movie, though, is a strong statement against the indifference that has permeated our society and the corruption that it has allowed to creep in. Its validity is undeniable, but its delivery is crude.
Strangely for a Shankar movie (fresh from Boys), there is no vulgarity. And hey, no cigarretes either. All those who think banning cigarrette smoking on screen is a bad idea, watch this movie.
Watch it anyway, because of its racy dialogue, because of its message, because of the scary logic behind Anniyan, because of Vivek, because of the gorgeous locales, because of one song (Iyyangaar Veetu), because you don't mind having a mild headache from having to sit in the theatre from 6-30 p.m. till 10 p.m.
After all if you think Shankar has cheated you, you can shoot off a complaint to the hooded stranger at www.anniyan.com! And wait for justice to be done! :)