Who is the most selling Tamilian in Andhra Pradesh? Is it Vijay, Ajith, Suriya, Vikram or Karthi? It is Santhanam. In dubbed film after dubbed film, his repartees have tickled the funny bone, often completely overshadowing the hero.
In a romantic-comedy like 'OKOK', this was understandable. But Santhanam outshining the hero in a film that has ostensibly been inspired by 'Nayakudu' and 'Sarkar'? AL Vijay makes this possible, though it was totally unintended.
'Anna' is a film where Vijay grows to being the protector of the slum-dwellers of Mumbai's Dharavi without having to show one intense, fearsome, angry expression throughout the film. If the acting output of the lead star is disturbingly inadequate, the story is as predictable as his dance moves.
First, we are introduced to Ram Murthy's (Satyaraj) existential fight against a cabal of goondas with the slogan 'Maharashtra for Maharashtra' in their hearts. He dares to fight back and therefore stays put in Dharavi as the acknowledged leader of the petrified Telugus. Cut to 2013, Vishwa (Vijay) is seen having gala time in Sydney, regularly getting the required morality/ethicality doses (over the phone) from his lion-like father, whom he believes to be an incredibly busy businessman in Mumbai.
Ever since Vishwa was a child, he has not seen his ever-busy father. (What a strong reason!) The biggest past-time of the future lion has been belittling his buddy (Santhanam). His next most important work in Sydney is falling in love with Amala Pal. What the future bhai of Dharavi's victims never did over the years, he does on the insistence of the girl and her father (Suresh): air dash to Mumbai to meet his father so he can marry Amala Pal.
Now comes the twist and a series of laughable moments.
Anna (that is, Sathyaraj) has been under a threat of being nabbed by the police and his arch-rival (Abhimanyu Singh). That's why he has been living in an undisclosed hideout, with the support of the loyal residents of Dharavi. Now look how the director translates this idea on the celluloid. The nexus between Abhimanyu, the police and the politicians hating Anna is so vicious that Anna can be snuffed out within seconds of coming out of his fiefdom. However, it is not like he has been hiding in a thick jungle with the support of tribals or in the underground all these years. The day he decides to get out of the hideout, he is bid a farewell by his people. The scene plays out like a Peda Rayudu scene.
The way Vishwa transforms in to Vishwa bhai is downright ridiculous. There is more emphasis on the machinations of the villain than anything. The Junior Sarkar-like hero doesn't have much lines; the writer was too busy writing for Abhimanyu and Santhanam.
If the hero's inner transformation becomes a footnote, if his inner personality is subdued by the villain's loudness, if the hero is not shown to be pained by the happenings in his life, what kind of a don-leadership film is it? Vijay's acting cannot be papered over as restrained. Restrained, minimalist acting doesn't leave us with questions or dissatisfaction. The dialogues are least memorably. It is Vishwa Sahasra Namam from word go. There is not a single line from Vijay which you will want to remember. "Ganga nu South India ku taleka poyina, nuvvu Australia ku tecchav," Suresh says to Vijay! He is referring to the Ganga mineral water unit owned by the hero. It is the witty lines spoken by Santhanam that are a real treat.
The characterization is almost imbecilic. In Sydney, he grooves in the streets singing paeans for Telugu language, culture and people. Not a single time does he come across as a lion-hearted person who has the will to be a leader. Answering a phone call while in an audition, thereby spoiling the chances of his team is not the trait of a leader. In Mumbai, his aides don't behave like they are with a tall leader in the presence of Vijay. How can the audience feel he is a bhai? To add to our woes, there is a love track in the second half too, now that Amala Paul is busy doing her duty.
There is some sort of over-indulgence of the charming star in the first half. (Don't ask what is over-indulged in the second half. It is the villain's fight).
Technically, it is GV Prakash Kumar's BG score that scores, not his songs. Cinematography is alright.
Verdict: The person with the shortest memory would be reminded of Prabhas' Mirchi while watching 'Anna'. As for the fans of RGV and 'Godfather', they will find it difficult to decide who is the worse blasphemer: Is it AL Vijay or Vijay?
Rating: 2.5 / 5