It was a rather disappointing term, as it took five years and further delay for director Bharathiraja to deliver his next bout of creativity. As he quotes often, across the length and breadth of Tamil Nadu, many of the small towns and villages have a tale of their own, narrating their part of the world with staunch beliefs, faith and customary practices. Known to boldly highlight that which is often either taken for granted or shied away from, Bharathiraja usually ensures that he has left no stone unturned, in each of his movie. This is what guaranteed him six national awards, for his classic yesteryear entertainers.
A journey that began in '16 Vayathinile', awarded him a choice award right in his debut. Proceeding on a journey through 'Kizhake Pogum Rail', 'Sigappu Rojakal', 'Nizhalgal', 'Oru Kaidhiyin Diary', 'Tik Tik Tik' and many more, Bharathiraja became a brand name. With National Award winning films like 'Mudhal Mariyadhai' and 'Karuthamma', he brought out the best that Kollywood can deliver. Among most of his movies, there has been a fine thread of similarity, that brings out one of the deadliest plague of the society - caste bias and discrimination. Expressed vividly in 'Alaigal Oivathillai' and 'Karuthamma', the typical Bharathiraja touch has been about love that blooms and flourishes beyond societal stereotypes like caste, creed and money - which, disappointingly, falls emotionless and flat in 'Annakodi'.
First there was speculation about the name, then the release date and then the movie itself; all this had only increased the expectations movie, for when there is a controversy, there's bound to a success story. Unfortunately, none of that marketing worked the trick here. First things first - the film is period set, probably close to independence, which is evident in the police's half pants. Two small villages that nurture the hero and heroine each, and as predictable as it can get, the two populus are eternally at customary loggerheads. And there begins the saga of love. Starting off at a mutual taunting misunderstanding, as it most often happens, the two fall madly in love with one another. There is a bad yet influential man in the village, who composes the rest of the story, and who gets who in the end, is ultimately all 'Annakodi' is about. Well, easier said than done.
Bharathiraja has always defined love in new and out-of-the-box the box explanations. This one is also an off-beat portrayal of how the lead pair influence the life of one another and change their lives forever. Set in the backdrop of draught stricken village that thrives on farmer and shepherd population, forms an easy excuse for the love birds to join hands stealthily every now and then. This delivers a definite earthen feeling, where the director scores high, as always. Add to this, there are a lot more twists in the story, than you can ever imagine. However, despite all this, it is quite monotonous.
The second half is quite a balm, but not sure whether it is because there is a much needed break in between, or because there is actually more stuff per scene than the former. The last hour brings out most of what was intended to be a part of the movie - it ranges between love, separation, angst and anger. Going further, the movie gets highly predictable at every frame, and the story is no suspense. As if caught up in a drama competition, running out of time, climax is quite sudden, but comes as an entertaining relief.
On the other hand, everyone is advancing and becoming up to date, and our dear director is no exception to the rule. The bad side of the advancement is exposure and raw details, a glimpse of which was served in the teasers. Although the government cleared the film with U/A at the Censor Board, no adult may want the a child watching it, even under their supervision. Since it is a big director's movie, Lakshman Narayan, Karthika and Manoj are to get a big break, but their contribution on this regard seems too little. GV Prakash has done a good job with regard to background score and music, and justifies the movie to the best extent possible, from his side of work. Picture is crystal clear, so make up could have taken care of, a little better. If the teaser made you squirm in your seat, then please be informed that it was after all only the teaser, while the whole movie lies ahead of it.
In all, the movie is a hard core love struggle, the burden of which reaches the audience by all means. After all the painful wait and suspense about the movie, the output is not quite satiating; and it is disappointing that this comes from one of the most sought after directors. To savour your earthen tastes, and for your love for the director, you can try and sit through the two hours odd long story once.
Verdict: You may like it for Bharathiraja