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"Anbu" ... the makers of "Azhagi" could have done better.

A SCREEN story of unrequited love the cinemagoer is only too familiar with. Filmmakers from Raj Kapoor ("Sangam") and Sridhar ("Nenjil Oar Aalayam") to K. Bhagyaraj ("Andha Ezhu Naatkal") and K. Balachander ("Moondru Mudichu") have dabbled in its various dimensions. And in all those cases the appeal was indisputable. The genre returns yet again with Udhayageetha Cine Creations' "Anbu". But you cannot help wonder whether "Anbu" comes from the home of "Azhagi" — the Thankar Bachchan offering that made waves.

Anbu (Bala) and Veena (Deepu) are lovers, but fate in the form of an unrelenting father (Vijayakumar) separates them. Veena is married off to Aditya (Aditya) — a jilted lover again, who is still to get over the disappointment. Unable to forget Veena, Anbu follows her to Ooty, where she is on a honeymoon with Aditya. In case, you expect a modern twist to the age-old tale, forget it. Director Dhalapathiraj is just not interested.

The first half is neat and sets the right tempo. Later the story meanders through uninteresting terrain till it comes to a predictable halt.

On the wedding night Aditya tells his wife about his failure in love because he doesn't want any secrets between husband and wife, and then just goes to sleep. It's funny that he doesn't pause even for a moment to ask if she had anything to say or at least for her reaction! And which husband would discuss with a man whom he's just begun to know, the consummation or otherwise of his marriage? These scenes make "Anbu" appear more like a hastily made television serial.

Bala, the hero, is a promising new find. Deepu's homely face is expressionless at times, but she sparkles in the scene where she and her mother have an argument. Rekha as the mother also makes an impact in this scene. And the resemblance between Rekha and Deepu makes their roles quite authentic. Aditya's mature face adds dignity to the character. Vadivelu plays a role which usually Vivek does. As Anbu's friend, he evokes some wholesome laughter — N. Prasannakumar's dialogue is a major plus point of these sequences.

Among Vidyasagar's numbers, "Aval Yaar Aval" stays with you for long. A deserving voice — Anantharaman — gets a break in "Anbu".

Well begun may be half done, but does that suffice?


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