Monday, April 12, 2010

"Anjaathe" (Language - Tamil) (2008) - Movie Review

There needs a sociopathic attitude to embrace darkness in depicting it in films. There cannot be any mercy in the name of compromise because when a director goes in, the cards are down. That is the reason “Sathya” or “Company” worked and that is why “Anjaathe” does not work. It has one of the most brilliantly operated camera works I have seen recently in Tamil cinema but it becomes confused in subplots, side stories and cannot keep its head together.

In the turn of events in two people’s life, each are directed into different paths. They eventually collide in the ugly battle of life left them with. Childhood friends and neighbours Kiruba (Ajmal Ameer) and Sathya (Narain) stick together for everything. Kiruba is the responsible kid with his ambitions set right on becoming Sub Inspector while Sathya exemplifies in being the ruffian of the hood. Sathya drinks and is the terrible rowdy we would not want to meet in real life. His territorial passion for violence and alcoholic outrage brings nothing but pain and shame to every one around him. His dad has had enough and in one of his public outbreaks humiliates Sathya. He uses Kiruba as his usual comparison and makes his son feel worse than a garbage. This drives Sathya to compete with Kiruba but only to take short cuts. He gets the help of his well connected uncle and whatever Kiruba worked all his young life to get, Sathya passes without effort overnight. Sathya is selected for training as Sub Inspector but alas Kiruba fails.

This is stellar material and the roles are reversed or not exactly reversed but it has a steering of its own to these two men. Sathya lived his life with utter disregard to himself and others. Kiruba has lived his with total respect for the goals he has set forth. “Anjaathe” takes some bold steps in these instances wherein it does not make Sathya an overnight saint. Being who he has been, he opts for the quick route possible and Kiruba loses himself as he should in seeing the atrocity of the system. His balance of right and wrong is tilted while Sathya is filled with guilt for first time in his life. He goes for training and returns to find his friend lost his path. Even till this, “Anjaathe” holds its ground.

In between these two people happens another man’s perverse and dangerous desires. That will be Daya (Prasanna with a ridiculous hair). Himself and his boss Logu (Pandiarajan in an interesting villain role) run a shady business which we are kept in dark till the plot goes sub sub plot as we get to know these people a little bit more up close. Director Mysskin’s film has thick plot lines which gets haywire in keeping its focus together. Add along compromises and inability to reach out for the ultimate grip on providing a vicious reality of the crime and its people, you get an ambitious film not quite making it out there.

Daya is a devious and incorrigible creature but he is not menacing as Prasanna tries him to portray. He is one thing which is driven. In that aspect we know he is capable of anything but there is no fear towards this man. I do have to thank Mysskin for not concentrating on the exploits in detail as it is unnecessary for establishing Daya. Yet there is a terrific sequence where the camera follows people’s legs in Kiruba’s room and Daya in his snaky attitude crawls on the floor to get a peek at a naked girl.
Despite some wonderful camera work and an eye for style and darkness, “Anjaathe” is lost. It takes its story too much for its own bad and gives a feeling that it would never end. Definitely Mysskin is not a director afraid of disappointing the crowd in not giving a feel good film. When a director gives that hope and then denies to take the high road, it is nothing but sloppy work. Here the end is inevitable and there is a sense of tragedy lurking around every step of the way. Mysskin rightly uses those to draw the darkness but by the time we are put in the midst of luscious sugar cane field, it is too late and too long.

“Anjaathe” belongs to cinematographer Mahesh Muthuswamy. There are some courageous scenes when Sathya as Sub Inspector stops a civilian on the road and the next scene we see them on the platform drinking and the freedom in allowing the camera to stare at the environment and let the actors come into it. It has a thorough chance for wonderful terse and succinct film. It lets itself down completely in becoming that landmark film.

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