Telugu Reviews

Amar Akbar Anthony Review: Exploiting Mental Health For Stereotypes & Flat Comedy

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Director: Sreenu Vaitla

Cast: Ravi Teja, Ileana D’Cruz, Abhimanyu Singh, Vennela Kishore

 

Yet another example of a regional film that uses a mental health issue to render it unique, Amar Akbar Anthony is a wasted opportunity that cloaks its commercial intentions with layers of forced (and unintentional) comedy and moments of novelty that are few and far between. Amar and Pooja, the films leads, are refreshingly pensive most of the time. Director Sreenu Vaitla constantly hints at the dark past of these two. It becomes even more intriguing when Amar and Pooja transform into other beings when they are triggered.

Unfortunately, this is where the plot goes haywire. The characters that Amar and Pooja become are bizarre, with Vaitla playing to stereotypes as often as possible in an effort to milk hilarity.

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The character of Akbar in particular falls spectacularly flat, more so because Ravi Teja is usually adept at handling bizarre comedy.

Amar Akbar Anthony had potential to develop into a suspenseful thriller. But as is the case with too many cooks and broth, this film becomes a foamy mess by the time the second half takes off. There are some moments that almost redeem this film, but Vaitla squanders these opportunities by using songs and forced comedy tracks involving Vennela Kishore and an exorcist. By this point, the supporting characters are just too many to keep track, much to the chagrin of the beleaguered detective played by Abhimanyu Singh, and us audience.

The more problematic issue here is the wanton and irresponsible usage of a mental disorder in an effort to add novelty to the proceedings. A more sensitive portrayal would have helped but as it stands, Vaitla’s film and screenplay flirt with the idea of its characters suffering from a mental health issue and doesn’t really delve deep into the psyche of a man and a woman who cannot control who they become. This could have been an interesting premise if Vaitla did not use it to leverage his poorly written characters. That the writing betrays a lack of sensitivity to the marginalised and those that live with mental illness only adds to the negativity that permeates the movie.

And in the middle of all of this is Ravi Teja’s particularly awful portrayal of a Muslim character that comes replete with exaggerated mannerisms and style of speaking. That the Censor Board seems to turn a blind eye to the transgressions in the films of a big star has never been more clear.

Actor Ileana is perhaps one of the very few moments of sunshine in this movie that seems to be under constant threat of snowfall. In such idyllic circumstances, we see villains of no import and Sayaji Shinde, who seems to be quite lost.

Could someone point him to the flight back home, please?

***

The Amar Akbar Anthony review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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