Tamil Reviews

Annadurai Review: A Cliché-Ridden Potboiler That Tries To Make A Hero Out Of Vijay Antony

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The most unemployable person in the world is perhaps the old school hero in Indian cinema. He is fearless, morally upright, compassionate, charismatic and talented, but one of these virtues always betrays him at the most unfortunate time. For instance, he will not make a good business man because he is too selfless; he wouldn’t mind getting involved in murky social issues for the sake of public good because he fears nothing. And, he will not make a successful gangster too because his heart-of-gold would come in the way.

In Vijay Antony’s Annadurai, you have two such ideal men who are identical twins. When the film begins, one of them has a job, and the other is helping his father run a textile business.

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Around the interval time, the job is lost and the textile business has collapsed. Over the years, Tamil cinema has come to accept violent criminals and happy-go-lucky young men, who are neither distinctly talented nor morally superior, as protagonists shouldering a film. But Annadurai, directed by G Sreenivasan, is unabashedly an old-fashioned tale. The good-hearted heroes lose everything they have, thanks to a gang of powerful villains – and obviously, the protagonists and their family value love and trust over money.

Annadurai and Thambidurai (Vijay Antony) live in a Tamil Nadu small town. The elder one is a bearded alcoholic who spends his days at his dead lover’s grave, crying and occasionally talking to her. The younger one is luckier. He has a job at a nearby school as a physical education teacher, and is all set to be married to Revathy (Diana Champika), who perfectly fits the bill as Kollywood’s cliched loosu ponnu, the naive, extroverted girl.  The siblings may lead lives that are diagonally opposite in nature, but both of them share similar virtues (or vices). The opening sequence has Annadurai heroically saving an unknown girl from a bunch of hooligans who try to rape her. The girl’s saree is torn, so Annadurai offers her his shirt. He drives her home, and gives her a few tips on life. “Don’t go out unaccompanied after 7 pm. Study well. Obey everything that your parents say…” The girl, unsurprisingly, falls for him, but he dissuades her citing his alcoholism and hopelessly broken heart. Thambidurai is flawless and idealistic, too. Many scenes later, the elder one goes to jail for a murder he’d committed in an inebriated state, and flash-forward seven years, he returns from jail to see that his brother has turned into a ruthless gangster.

Stretch this plot a little more, and you get enough content to run a television soap to last for over a couple of years. Characters appear and disappear, and none of them, apart from the lead men and the villain (Rajkumar), leave any mark. Vijay Antony has an impressive voice and great screen presence, although his acting talents are famously limited. Worse than his acting skills is the quality of songs he has composed for Annadurai. The ‘demonetization anthem’ has curious lyrics that compare the heroine to EMI and an earthquake, but the music and visualisation are a bizarre mismatch. Diana is a misfit in the film, and her performance is loud and tone-deaf. But Rajkumar, who played the iconic Rauther in Mohanlal’s Vietnam Colony (1992), packs a punch here.

On the whole, Annadurai hardly figures at all.

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It plays too safe to the gallery. It may try to elevate Vijay Antony to the league of action heroes in Kollywood, but does little else.

*****

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

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