In filmdom hype never matches reality. Or conversely, some of the biggest hits have had the least hype riding on them.
So when Anniyan had all those teasing promos and tantalizing publicity, there was a nagging worry can the film live up to it. Can Shankar and Vikram pull it off?
Well, they have not only lived up to the expectations but also gone beyond that.
Anniyan in one word is brilliant. A film that is big in conception, immaculate in execution and totally stunning in its entirety.
Anniyan is almost a surreal and phantasmagoric dream woven on an ambitiously expanded canvas that has never before seen on Indian films. Its technical sorcery (yes, that's the word) just takes your breath away.
And it has taken all the audacity and ability of Vikram and the boldness and brilliance of Shankar to come up with this mesmerizing magic. At one level, it is just masala and mass entertainer.
But the duo, like master magician, keeps you focused on the marvel of the moment rather than on the essential trick of it. Vikram's sterling skills and Shankar's spunky expertise seem made for each other.
The story of Anniyan is simple at one level, and decidedly complex at another. Ramanujam aka Ambi (Vikram) is a typical Brahmin lawyer, good in intent, proper in approach, but not so successful in the end.
He is a stickler for rules and that doesn't always work. Though he champions the cause of the meek of the earth, he just doesn't get what he aims at ---justice.
His father Parthasarathy (Nedumudi Venu) tells him that it is difficult for one man to change the system. This message is constantly hammered into his mind. Ambi's love life also does not go anywhere.
His affection for the next door girl Nandini (Sada) is also bit of a non-starter as she doesn't find him attractive. To add to this, Ambi's friend (Vivekh) also keeps making fun of his going-by-the-book tendency.
In other words, Ambi is a loser in life. He is trapped in the cul-de-sac of a relentless system.
And then, his life is transformed as he comes across inspiring lines from Hindu puranas (garudapuranam). So Ambi takes the avatar of Anniyan and sets out to mete his own brand of justice --- instant, violent, but effective.
Conmen, confidence tricksters, robbers, killers --- all get the Anniyan treatment. The ever-vigilant Anniyan inexorably seals their fate.
And adding to the engrossing drama, emerges Remo, a sexy, ravishing model who has young girls going weak in their knees in love and anxiety. Nandini falls for his undoubted charms.
Now, it is not difficult to guess that Remo is none other Ambi himself.
Amidst all this drama, an indefatigable policeman (Prakash Raj) gets down to track all the killings and the mystery behind them.
The stunning denouement is about whether the police manage to nail Ambi and how and what makes him change his personality so much. It is a climax that befits such a thriller.
The film is out and out Vikram's. As Ambi, as Remo and as Anniyan, this amazing actor is just that --- amazing. He changes into these roles with the same ease and style of ramp models changing into clothes. His acting skills need no new underlining. It has been good.
And it has just got better in Anniyan. As Ambi he is believable, as Remo he is lovable and as Anniyan he is bankable. His subtle changes of voice and its modulation, the nuances in the body language and the delicate shifts in expressions are all treats.
Sada, a young actress in such a big film, is surprisingly not over-awed. She brings to her role a simple elegan