You can bet on this stranger
A FORMAT SO TYPICAL OF SHANKAR ... Anniyan
When intelligent screen line melds with racy action, it generally works. And when it has mega maker Shankar (and his brand of grandeur) at the helm, it is a field day for the filmgoer. Oscar Films (P) Ltd's `Anniyan' (U) typifies director Shankar's penchant for big budgets and his yen for showcasing society's ills. Thus more of the `Indian' and a little of the `Gentleman' influence seems inevitable. But the upright Ambi in `Anniyan' goes beyond the older Kamal in `Indian' in characterisation. The target this time is not the corrupt politician or policeman, but the inept, rules-flouting public. The different faces of the hero are an interesting though not entirely innovative line all the same they keep the tale gripping. (Incidentally `Chandramukhi' had aberrations of the psyche as its pivot.)
Ramanujam or Ambi as he is called (Vikram), is a young lawyer who lives life by the rules, but being straightforward and equally timid leads him nowhere. That's when Anniyan (Vikram again) enters his life to help him out and punish the erring. Ambi's ardent love for Nandini (Sada) and her slights result in the appearance of the modern Remo (Vikram yet again!)
Shankar touches a chord in the conscientious and law abiding viewer who has no guts to take on evil forces surrounding him. It is another action-backed role that offers ample scope for Vikram, and the veteran keeps you spellbound throughout. His changing expressions at the police station are a splendid icing on his performance, with Prakashraj proving a perfect foil. Sada has utilised the opportunity quite well. But she could have emoted more naturally in certain scenes. Vivek's is a sensible, humorous and enjoyable portrayal.
Sujatha's dialogue is an asset. Sabu Cyril must have worked overtime for Shankar art contributes immensely to the film's richness. And capturing all these with the opulence and intricacies intact are the cameras of S. Ravivarman and V. Manikandan. The excellent play of light and darkness enhances the impact. The scene at the Nehru Stadium is particularly commendable. But the sequence is contrived. The time slice technique in the fight where the hero and stuntmen stay on air for a while in Matrix style has been excellently handled. (Peter Haynes' stunt choreography is a draw.)
Harris Jayaraj's hum-worthy numbers are chart busters already. But the loudness in re-recording at some points is a hindrance.
How come Nandini doesn't see even a slight resemblance between Ramanujam and Remo till much later, and how does Ramanujam's straight hair turn curly and coloured in a jiffy are questions that irk. Also what exactly do Prakashraj and Vivek achieve by sporting a new look in every other scene? The `Iyengar Veetu ... ' song and the Tiruvaiyaru incidents prolong matters. The screenplay that sags a little just before the midway point, gains momentum and moves on at break-neck speed to a climax, Hollywood style. The last half hour or so is a whirlwind of action that sucks you into it!
Shankar's story and screenplay deserve to be lauded for the ingenious sparks in the narration. Every frame of `Anniyan' reveals the hard work of its maker. From religion to ramp walk Shankar tries out all. Only if you are particular about plausibility will problems arise. Otherwise some of the best camera shots, stunts and locations on a mind-boggling scale have been showcased. If you enjoy magnificence in cinema you will like this `Anniyan.'
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Chennai and Tamil Nadu