Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Anya(other) movie industry

Sometimes the good commercial movies from the South (the top 3 or 5 ) raise the scale of movie-making in this country to greater levels. And the directors who did this like Mani Ratnam and Priyadarshan, have made their mark in Hindi cinema also . In fact Priyadarshan has brilliantly adapted his situational comedies to suit the Hindi masses. Somehow one director who has not done it so far is Shankar. But since he is just 6 films old, he has time on his hands. But his latest movie Anniyan(The outsider) proves that he has elevated the art and technique of translating a soulful story into celluloid canvas to greater heights.
Commercial movie making is about having a strong core theme which is then embellished with characters, songs and memorable situations. Sholay is about an ex police officer revenge over a dacoit using two crooks. And then you add layers to the core, Basanti, the jailor, Soorma bhopali, create situations etc etc..
Shankar's mastery lies in movies with political message and a strong anti-establishment ethos. Anniyan tells the story of a Rules Ramanajum, a Tamil Iyengar who is irked by the indiscipline of fellow Indians who spit from a Mercedes Benz on pedestrians. Basically a 'loser' in todays world , even in love where his friendly neighbourhood babe feels he is damn boring. This leads to him developing a multiple personality disorder . So you have a Rules Ramanajum in two more avatars .. Anniyan the do-gooder who will set right the wrongs and Remo a rampwalk model who will serenade and pursuade his lady love with all the MTVian tricks. By defining your core in such a novel way, the writer gets a screenplay that can be wide and creatively leveraged. And the focus shifts from macro corruption ( builder-politician-mafia nexus) to everyday micro corruption ( railway canteen contractors, errant electricians) .
Add an actor like Vikram(shot to fame with Tere Naam's original Sethu) who performs all 3 roles with aplomb. Add Harris Jayraj's music. Add Vivek's comedy as the cop's mumbling assistant. Add a logic to killing offenders by novel methods(getting swarmed by a herd of buffaloes, getting deep fried in oil, having your blood sucked out by insects in a ditch) using Garuda Puranam as the textbook. Add a stunt using Matrix style action in a karate school where Anniyan fights 50 karate students and tries to kill the babe because she paid bribes to register her house. Add smaller Iyengar nuances like the depiction of Mylapore temples and the kacheri. Spend a cool Rs.25 cr. You have a commercial blockbuster which ousts Rajnikants Chandramukhi from the top. And still looks and feels like a product leagues ahead of Dhoom or Koi..Mil Gaya. Commercial cinema that is intense, engrossing, thought-provoking and enjoyable at the same time. A healthy mix compared to the candy floss of Karan Johar at one extreme and Varma's harsh realism at the other.


At 9:57 PM, Blogger Kaps said...

Anniyan was not as big a success as Chandramukhi. One reason was bcoz Anniyan was slightly similar to Shankar's earlier productions like Gentleman and Indian. All these touched upon corruption and discipline in various facets of life.


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