Rakesh's movie talk
Anniyan (2005)

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Directed Shankar
Written by Shankar (dialoque by Sujatha)
Starring Vikram, Sadha, Prakash Raj and Vivek


Here we are with Shankar’s Anniyan, one of highly anticipated movie this year. As a matter of fact, all Shankar’s movie after the debut hit Gentlemen  have been highly anticipated. And this high anticipation gives me the creep because Shankar is not a great director. He is probably the most successful in Tamil film industry, but not the greatest. But in a way, I owe him my career. My first published work was a scalding review on Indian.


Now, Anniyan is not different from some of other Shankar hits, namely Gentleman, Indian and Muthalvan. Anniyan’s protagonist goes through the same path as the heroes of those movies, and is especially close to Indian.


Here, Vikram plays a guy with three characters, thanks to a certain condition called (as what we were told) Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). He plays the Brahmin lawyer, Rules Ramanujam or Ambi; the romantic hunk, Remo; and the vigilante killer Anniyan.


First, lets look at Shankar’s examination on MPD. Here’s is Shankar’s phsychology 101 on MPD.


  1. When going through transformation, the characters will experience built-in ejector seat thingy that send you hurtling to any available glass panel for extra effect. It happens to Vikram here at one crucial scene.
  2. Also, during transformation, your hair goes through various changes. It becomes curly, gets dyed, straightened, shortened, etc.
  3. Your one personality may know the other, or they may not. For example, Anniyan knows Ambi, and Ambi does not know Anniyan, even though both have chatted online. Then, Remo knows Anniyan and Anniyan tried to kill Remo, and also protect Ambi. The guy really got screw loose there.
  4. Confirmation of MPD can only be ascertained when it is pronounced by a white guy who looks like he had just parked his backpack outside of the studio. It also helps to have a white old lady with MPD with a website online. No Indians shall apply.


Well, there is more, and Nassar comes in another crucial moment as the psychiatrist. Usually he is a damned good character actor, and here the only thing real off his performance is the freakin’ hair around his ears. Maybe he grew that to filter himself from listening to bad stories, but it ain’t working. Nassar’s performance is a proof that Shankar is following George Lucas’ footstep of cunningly drawing bad perfomance from good actors.


And I love the method Nassar used to hypnotise Ambi. He used the good old swirling black and white thing they use nowadays more colourfully in Paddle pop icecream. The only thing missing is the ‘VoovooVoovooVoovoo’ sound. And I like the way he made Ambi confess during the hypnotherapy session. If I was Nassar, I would have done something like this:


Me:     Ambi, you are at the ATM machine.

Ambi: Yes.

Me:     You will now give me the PIN numbers…. and oh, I need your girlfriend’s number too.

Ambi:  Yes, master.


Man, I want to know where Shankar did his research on MPD. It looks so easy, especially when I note that the audience bought it wholesale.


But I can buy the MPD part. You see, the other day I bought a bunch of foodstuff from the local pasar malam (night bazaar). I got up in the morning and I saw the empty containers. I finished the whole thing. I couldn't have done that. I don't even remember doing it. Who did it? Theeni-yan? Me?


Vikram gives a brilliant performance by teleserial standard. For movie, he performance is inconsistent and  substandard. As Ambi, Vikram did a great job at playing a stereotype, and that is in par with the charicature of Brahmins that comedians like Koundamani or Vivek have pulled off in the past.


And Remo...There, you girls out there are already getting high I suppose. Speaking of which, I loved the scene where Remo appears on the heroine’s roof. Yes, the classic Tamil movie hero on the roof scene. I recall Sivaji doing it in Gnana Oli. It was basically for laugh, and almost an entire song sequence took place there. Try doing that now. And then, it appeared again with Rajini in Siva, only this time it was the heroine who makes the entry through the roof. The scene was funny as hell.


And now, this Remo does the same thing, except it was much more painful…to my intellect, I mean. Yes, he peels away the roof tiles while the heroine was sleeping (terribly sound, maybe on drugs). And he makes the moon run away, and the stars failed to shine, because they suck in comparison to the heroine. Poor Remo, he had to go through all that crap to be romantic, not to mention the put-on accent, mannerism and the so-called hip dressing. The late king of romance, Gemini Ganesan, got away only with his charm, and the only help he got was from A.M. Rajah.


And now, we come to Anniyan himself. With the swagger, the hairs draped around the perimeter of his vision (how he sees correctly is beyond me), he reminds me of one of those Zombies in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. And, yes, the amplified low voice. And the whole freakin’ stadium could hear him when he talked like that.


And speaking of the stadium scene. Do we need that preaching? After all during the first half an hour, we got the point. And Vivek was great in this scene, pointing out exactly what was happening – the bungling of the cops.


As much as the joke was good, Vivek somehow doesn’t sparkle here. There was one joke with Tsunami in it, and personally I think it was in bad taste. The disaster is not something that we should be joking about. And there was another one, where when he asks Ambi to kiss the girl he said, “I can’t be calling Kamal-sar for this.”. I laughed. We all laughed. But the sad part is, for most audience that will be the only reason the great artiste will be remembered for.


The less I can say of the music, the better. Harris Jeyaraj is nothing more than a Rahman pastiche producer, and yes, I am prejudiced.


I don’t even want to discuss the issue Shankar wants to disseminate in this movie. It would have been acceptable if it has been a cheap Sathyaraj movie wanting to cash in the lower-class audience. But Shankar’s movie has different audience altogether. I am not sure which category I belong to, but I find myself disagreeing to many of his right-wing attitude.


Shankar spent millions for this movie, and it doesn’t show. He took more than a year to film it, and alas, it doesn’t show either. And the Matrix stuff…what matrix stuff. You have a chase scene from India and end up in a Malaysian martial art school. And the whole B.S. watching Anniyan beating up the whole school. What do you take us for? But hey, the audience I was with bought it…wholesale. Who am I to comment.


I wish I could make a special mention of Prakash Raj, but he  was mostly wasted. Sada? Who cares. And then, there were excellent Malayalee character actors like Hanifa, Nedumudi Venu and Kalabhavan Mani. All wasted. Waste, waste, waste.


OF course, I need to mention the greatest performance of all. It came from Vikram’s hair. The real one and the wigs. It went through tremendous changes throughout the movie. You gotta watch it to appreciate it. Reminds me of Kamal’s facial hair in Hey Ram. Maybe they should give next year’s national award to Vikram’s hair.


Overall, I think what I said of Shankar not being a good director is correct. He sucks even further without the usual collaboration with A.R Rahman. But he is a successful director and this movie will be another feather in his financial cap.
I was told to watch out somewhere near the end - during the so-called interogation scene between Vikram and Prakash Raj. "Unbelievable" they said of the acting. It was brief scene, where he switches between one character to another. Honestly, it looked easy. Any hack actor can pull that off. This is another one of Vikram's actor proof roles. Why can't he play an ordinary guy with great effect? Grrr....I am still pissed that they gave him the national award for last year.