Prithviraj has indeed come a long way. From ‘Stop Violence’-obscurity to ‘Ravanan’ celebritydom, he has seen it all, and risen up like a phoenix. Fans of the actor who is widely touted as the ‘next big thing’, have been eagerly awaiting his latest flick Anwar.
Coming from master-filmmaker Amal Neerad of ‘Big B’ fame, the movie had a lot of expectations attached. Peppy tracks from Gopisundar like ‘Khalbilethi’ and an aggressive promotion only added ‘fanned’ the fire, pun intended.
‘Anwar’ doesn’t have anything new for a storyline (which itself is mostly ripped-off from ‘Traitor’). Islamic terrorism has featured in many movies like ‘Baba Kalyani’ . ‘Anwar’ has the terrorism story, narrated from a muslim angle. So we have our protagonist, Anwar (Prithviraj) who is booked by the police while running a hawala transaction. He ends up in jail and finds himself in a spot – constantly attacked by policemen and fellow-inmates (who are Hindu, needless to say). Babu Sait (Lal) – fellow-inmate and terrorist rescues Anwar from his plight, and takes him under his fold. Once freed from the jail, they join hands to craft terror. Prakash Raj is an ATS (Anti Terrorist Squad) officer trying to bring Lal and his comrades to book. A twist follows and changes the storyline altogether. Mamta, a suspect in a bomb-blast case, plays Prithviraj’s love interest.
The first half of ‘Anwar’ is downright impressive – especially the camera-work, and the way the plot unfolds. The narration by Mammootty sets the tone for the movie. Powered by a taut-direction from Amal Neerad, Satheesh Kurup’s cinematography works wonders. You notice a brownish-tinge in the frames, especially during the jail-scenes – yes, the ‘Big B’ effect. Amal has gotten better in what he does, even with his famed slow motion sequences (think ‘Sagar Alias Jacky’). His attention to detail needs applause. There’s a scene where Prithviraj washes his legs, after taking a beating (literally) from the police. Even such ‘normal’ scenes are dealt with such finnesse. Dialogues by R Unni stand out. The film spares lengthy monologues – the actors speak mostly in the Kochi-lingo. Vivek Harshan’s editing is taut and makes the movie fast-paced.
Prithviraj impresses with a stellar performance. He has improved in terms of acting skills and has done his homework right. He sparkles, especially in dialogue delivery. The actor has some of the most brilliant lines in the movie; it also helps that he has one of the best voices in the industry. However, he fizzles out in the song-sequences – especially in ‘Kanninima Neele’, where the actor fails to live up to the mood of the song. However, watch out for the stunt scenes, crafted in Amal Neerad perfection. Prithviraj simply oozes style in these sequences. Even the worst of his critics will have to applaud him for his performance. Mamta has also done a good job – despite a sidelined role. Salim Kumar, who plays Babu Sait’s right hand Ashraff – is comic relief for the otherwise-serious movie, giving way for some good laughs. Prakash Raj plays the beedi-smoking ATS officer’s role with elan. Jinu Joseph (remember the kid’s father in Kerala Cafe’s ‘Bridge’?), who plays Raj’s sidekick, fails to impress.
Music by Gopisundar is a big positive. Tracks like ‘Kanninima’ and ‘ Khalbilethi’ are amazing. Both songs – especially ‘Kanninima’ impresses with its stunning visuals. While Shreya Ghosal’s voice is the highlight of a haunting ‘Kanninima’, the ‘Khalbilethi’ number has a feel of its own. Sukhwinder Singh has done a good job with ‘Vijanatheeram’. The rap-song from the movie – ‘Njaan’ got mixed reviews. The song (especially the video) tries to repeat a Bluffmaster feat, with Prithvi doing an ‘Abhishek’. The song – sung by Prithivraj and Mamta, is peppy but largely-disappointing. The song was greeted by loud boos from the audience when this author first watched the movie (First-day, first-show).
Anwar is far from being the perfect movie on screens, this season. The storyline is hackneyed for one, including the full plot, post-twist. It’s a tried and tested theme which may not go well with many of the well-informed, ‘been-there-seen-that’ viewers. The dark tone set by the first-half of the movie falters during the second half when the movie slips to classic song-dance routine. Once a movie becomes quite predictable, there must be something delectable about it to hold a viewer’s attention. Anwar lacks just that.
Ironically, the worst part of this movie is its credits – the movie ends with the ‘Njaan’ song video, with credits rolling as a ticker (which was masked by poor projection, at my theatre). But that’s not even a problem, considering the song’s video. You may have differences in opinions about the song, but of course, you CANNOT butt-in such a er… ‘different’ song after a gripping movie. It’s sheer-sacrilege. ‘Bluffmaster’ was cool.But it was a hip-movie, not a dark one. In any case, ripping parts of ‘Bluffmaster’ for a movie at the other end of the spectrum isis NOT cool. The song spoils the mood set by movie, bringing in a negative vibe amongst viewers. It mocks the the whole movie and its hapless viewers, at least the few who stayed back to see the end-credits.
Picture this – ‘Anwar’ – a ‘serious’ movie by all forms of interpretation, ends with a flirtatious word: “Thalle.” (No, the phrase doesn’t have any serious inner-implications)
The song’s a mere attempt to make Prithvi don the ‘superstar’ hat. Prithviraj does not need a rap song to be cool. And this ‘so-called-rap-song’ has only tarnished his image as a stellar actor. I think it’s high time Prithviraj gave a break to his ‘professional singing’ career. He should focus on his acting. Not because he’s a bad singer. Because an appalling song like this could do to Prithviraj what movies like ‘Praja’ and ‘Onnaman’ did to Mohanlal.
All in all, Anwar is good in parts. It’s a must-watch for all Prithviraj fans -easily one of his best movies, especially the ‘Amal-Neeradi’-ified styles and stunts. Give it a miss if you’re looking for what the trailer lured you into. The flick’s like one of those cute barking dachshunds — they just bark on. No bites. No rabies.
My Rating: 5.5/10