Monday, October 18

Anwar - A great opportunity wasted!!

Movie - Anwar (Malayalam)
Director - Amal Neerad
Producers - Raj Zacharias, Rijo Zacharias
Cast - Prithviraj, Prakash Raj, Lal, Mamta Mohandas, Salim Kumar, Jinu Joseph, Sai Kumar, Geetha, Nithya Menen, Azeem Jamal, Sampath
Music & Background Score - Gopi Sunder
Cinematography - Satheesh Kurup
Editing - Vivek Harshan
Art Direction - Joseph Nellickal
Sound - Tapas Nayak
Stunts - Anal Arasu
Dialogues - R Unni
Story, Screenplay - Amal Neerad
Release Date - 14th October 2010

Amal Neerad, schooled from the RGV factory made a mark with his debut feature film BIG B starring Mammootty. The film set a new benchmark for visuals, shots and action in Malayalam Cinema. It met with a moderate success but was tremendously appreciated for bringing in a new style unknown to Malayalam Cinema. The movie was also criticized for being a frame to frame rip-off the Hollywood flick Four Brothers. Next he made Sagar Alias Jacky Reloaded, which satisfied a section of Mohanlal fans but was seriously criticized for being just a showcase of great shots, good music and awesome locations and for having nothing even remotely related to a story. (Maybe because there wasnt any DVD to rip off in this case). And people got fed up of slow motions shots where the hero (be it Mammootty or Mohanlal) just keeps walking. The movie got a record initial but died down after the initial buzz. I wanted Anwar to do well for Prithviraj and for Amal Neerad who is a great technician, but has not yet made a mark as a good storyteller. But Amal Neerad has committed both the crimes of plagiarism (its a rip-off from Traitor [2008]) and giving innumerable slow motion shots making the film lag like anything, even this time around. :(

Babu Seth (Lal) is one of the prime suspects behind a bomb blast at Coimbatore and is imprisoned soon after the blast. Stalin Manimaran (Prakash Raj) is an ATS officer in charge of the investigation. Anwar (Prithviraj) is arrested for dealing in Hawala money and is also sent to the same jail. Anwar and Babu Seth bond during their imprisonment and they join hands when released. Babu Seth persuades Anwar to join his extremist group and together, they unleash a series of terror activities in Kochi. What happens when the investigating officer Manimaran and the young turk Anwar comes face to face, forms the rest of the story. 

The film tackles an extremely serious issue of terrorism. Lal's Babu Seth character draws parallels with a real-life extremist leader, and a major turning point in the movie is a true incident in which he was allegedly involved. Anwar becomes too much of a pro-terrorist movie in its entire first half, where nothing is said or done against it, even though we have a police officer keeping a close watch on all the proceedings. Only towards the end of the movie, something is said against terrorism, but that doesnt quite create the required impact, especially when so much had been said in favour of terrorism already in the movie. The fight against terrorism in this movie is not for peace or for the country, it is just to seek vengeance for a personal loss. That is not a very good way to handle such a sensitive and volatile issue, especially in a mass commercial film which gets such a wide audience. 

The story flows better compared to the director's previous film, but even that flow is spoiled by the never-ending slow motion shots which keep getting slower and slower as the movie progresses. The average frame rate of the movie seems something like 250 frames per second (a normal movie runs at just 24 frames per second). Yes, it is that slow. All those shots look stunning, no doubt. But anything in excess, is a bad thing. People thought the director had learnt that through his last film. But this film shows that he hasnt. 

Prithviraj is excellent as Anwar. He holds the film together with his star presence. And the sole reason you can watch this film for, is him. His beefed up look suits the character well. (Girls can have a swell time ogling at him throughout the movie). And he is fantastic in the stunt sequences (even though the slow motion gets on your nerves after a point). The only glitch was an emotional scene in the second half where he goes into his usual escapist style of screaming while delivering an angry dialogue. That alone looked odd, especially because an actor like Prakash Raj was performing opposite him in the same scene. Otherwise, it is Prithviraj's movie all the way. Prakash Raj is great as usual, but he hasnt been utilized fully. He gets just one scene to show his amazing talent and thats it. Lal gives a wonderfully restrained performance throughout the film. Mamta Mohandas is beautiful, pretty and hot, all at the same time. But she appears in 3 songs and around 5 small scenes in total. Thats it. Salim Kumar was excellent and was able to provide some good comic relief. His authentic Kochi accent also helped. Sai Kumar and Geetha were decent. Jinu Joseph suited his part. Nithya Menen looked stunning in the few scenes she had. A new guy called Azeem Jamal was good. An actor like Sampath was royally wasted. Mammootty's voice over didnt make much of an impact. It could've been done by anybody. 

Now to the good things about the movie. Amal Neerad's shot designs are simply mindblowing. He's really one of the best we have in conceiving shot designs and executing them. But sadly, he doesnt have the same talent in writing a screenplay. Its a sure thing that with a strong script, he will surely make a fantastic film which will be a visual delight. But its high time that he realized that writing is not his forte. Another interesting thing is that he is able to present a different style of acting from each of his lead stars as well as the supporting stars. The performances in all his movies have been very good. And its the same with Anwar as well. 

Cinematography by Satheesh Kurup is brilliant. His lighting and framing make a great visual impact. The only thing irritating again are the slow motion shots. (Mentioned here again and again because they also keep coming as many times in the movie). Anal Arasu's fight choreography was excellent in the beginning. The fight at a local gang's adda in Fort Kochi was superbly choreographed. But by the time the climax fight comes, the audience is already bored of the elaborate fights shot in extreme slow motion. The climax was exactly like Big B. The hero alone, against a group of villains, a shotgun and extreme slow-motion shots. Nothing new there. A big disappointment. Art Director Joseph Nellickal has done some real good work. But the 'designer' jail in the movie looked really absurd and illogical. And it looked like it was straight out of Pazhassiraja. Vivek Harshan's editing could have helped make the movie a lot more better had he chopped off all the slo-mo sequences. But he hasnt done that. Yet he impresses at certain portions, especially the songs. 

Music & background score by Gopi Sundar is very very good. Though the background score is great, the presence of a strong theme track like in Big B or SAJ is sorely missed here. 'Kizhakku Pookkum', a beautiful qawwali track by Shreya Ghoshal is heavily inspired by 'Kannalane' (Bombay) in both its visualization and composition. Yet its a lovely song in which both Mamta and Nithya look gorgeous. 'Kanninima Neele', another great song is shot just like 'Vennilave' (SAJ) on more or less the same locations with different costumes. Mamta again looks stunning in it. But the song comes in quick succession after the previous one therefore making the movie lag in its flow. 'Vijanatheeram' is shot just like 'Oru Mughamo' (Bheema), but fails create the impact created by the latter. The hip-hop video 'Njaan' is a very good song spoiled by very bad visuals and looks totally out of place after the heavy duty climax of the film. Prithviraj and Mamta look great, but its weird to see them dancing in front of random images created on the green mat. (Why was Prithviraj wearing Prakash Raj's glasses in that song??)

And to make things worse, the news that Anwar is a rip-off of the Hollywood spy flick Traitor is spreading like wild fire. It carries a heavy hangover of Big B in many scenes and also reminds one of Bheema at certain points in the first half. Even though the movie has been inspired from many such films, its narrative fails to engage the audience. Again proves that Amal Neerad has a long way to go before he can be called a good storyteller. 

On the whole, Anwar.... is.... a..... good... opportunity..... wasted........  (if said in slow-motion style followed in the movie). It was a perfect platform for both Prithviraj and Amal Neerad to enhance their positions in our cinema. While Prithviraj would be appreciated, Amal Neerad would still receive flak for his handling of the subject and the fascination for slo-mo. Anwar has a slightly better story (even though its a rip-off) than Amal's previous movie Sagar Alias Jacky. While that one and Big B depended on Mohanlal and Mammootty's star power more than anything else, this one depends on Prithviraj to do the same. And he has succeeded in that to some extent. The movie has taken a huge initial, the biggest for a Prithviraj movie and on par with that of any Mammootty/Mohanlal starrer. Even though thats a great sign, it is highly likely that the movie may not do as well after the initial excitement. Amal Neerad as a technician is brilliant, but has failed as a story-teller again. Anwar is strictly average. It could have been a lot more. Watch it if you're a die-hard Prithviraj fan, or a fan of slow-motion. 

Rating - 2.75/5


  1. Superb Movie, in d recent past...
    Amal improved alot from his last movies.
    I think he tried hard to avoid d film only a slow motion film, It has a good story and an outstanding message. A great climax. All d best.
    From me 3.6/5

  2. You've hit the nail right on the coffin vivek. As a fan, I had a lot of expectations for this movie, the buildup, the wonderful music and a combination of a beautiful chick and upcoming star. Lets just hope there is a better next time for Amal. 3.0/5

  3. Super review..wel detaild...only contradiction is the heavy duty climax 'inapporiate lal suicide' and couple settling in himalayas 'horrendous'...amal is the best in destroying the movie at the end..he did the same with SAJ and cant learn frm mistakes...dissapointing after a gr8 bigB.!!

  4. hi
    Superb review..wel detaild...only contradiction is the heavy duty climax 'inapporiate lal suicide' and couple settling in himalayas 'horrendous'...amal is the best in destroying the movie at the end..

  5. hi prithviraj,
    your anwar film gallery is very cute and hansome.