I used to hate watching Tamil movies, particularly after developing deep hatred for Tamil Serials.
All Tamil movies in my perception then looked junk and a waste of time. That is until I watched Shankar’s Boys – it was refreshing and had a good storyline. Then over the years, good movies like Annayin (by Shankar), Vettaiyaadu Veilaiyaadu, Sivaji: The Boss (by Shankar) and more, proved me wrong. There are indeed good movies out there, not perfect in all areas but still better than some fucked up movies that ran in the local cinemas and TV.
Recently I got a chance to watch Anjathey and it blew me away! The winning team of Mysskin (the director), Magesh Muthuswamy (the cinematographer), Sunder C Babu (the music director) and Narain (the hero) from the earlier Chithram Pesuthadi was back together again for this movie.
All it took was the opening scene to know that it is going to a roller coaster ride with this movie. Good old cop-bad guy story but with a twist – both cop & bad guy started as best friends.
Sathyanathan (Narain) and Krupakaran (Ajmal) are sons of police constables living in a police colony. They remain close friends despite having divergent attitudes. Krupa wants to become a sub inspector and works meticulously to get selected. Aimless Sathya, a street rowdy, is always humiliated by his father, a straight policeman because of his irresponsible attitude. Sathya, provoked by the constant humiliation, decides to compete for SI selection (from Indiaglitz).
All looks well right? 2 best friends going to be sub-inspectors? This is where the twist comes in. Sathya only wanted to pass the SI exams to prove something to his father, not to become policeman. As such, he goes to see his uncle who a personal assistant to a Minister and get him to use his contacts to get Sathya to pass the exams for SI. In other words, Sathya cheats to become a policeman. Krupa on the other hand worked hard for the exams but in the end fails his exam and comes back home dejected (he loses it when he finds out that his friend had cheated in the exams).
Sathya shocked to learn of his best friend’s failure in the exams decides to become straight and goes on to be a good policeman. Krupa on the other hand ends up drinking and somehow gets entangled with a group of brutal kidnappers (Pandiyarajan and Prasanna had played their part well) who kidnap young girls and rapes them for money (Krupa does not know about this until it is too late for him).
There are many instances where Sathya is angry with Krupa on things he did after failing the exams like ending up a drunkard and beating up his friends but Sathya is unable to say more because he knows that his cheating in the exams is the cause of his best friend turning out to be what he is now. Sathya feels guilty most of the time.
(Sathya facing off Krupa and Krupa’s sister after Krupa’s father admitted to the hospital after a heart attack. Photo source: http://www.kollywoodtoday.com)
The camera angle
This stands out in the movie – the opening itself is properly executed. A blue sky with rowdies on one corner threatening someone, the camera moves to display the blue sky again and until it stops under Krupa exercising on a bar.
In other scene where Krupa allows the gangsters to hide in his house and the sister decides to come to the house unexpectedly, the whole scene is only worked out on screen without showing the characters faces. A very tense moment coupled with superb background music is only shown from the ankle angle – you see the legs to and fro and you get tense on the outcome as well (another scene where the camera is at the ankle level is when Sathya after a drinking spree discovers a body on the road).
There is another moment when the camera does not show the face of the hitman for the kidnappers. All we know is that he is bald and always wears black clothes. He is very obedient and this is shown through body movements.
The fight scenes
In Tamil movies, it is so “usual” to find the hero fighting off 20 gangsters without any major injuries. The movie, Sivaji: the Boss despite good storyline and direction made fool of itself when the hero (Rajini) fought 10 – 15 gangsters on his own and without any serious injuries. This was not shown once or twice but four times. Logic defies human beings with such scenes.
In Anjathey, the fighting rules have been re-written to some extent – you still have the hero against many gangsters but the effect is kept to the minimum. Most is done with a one to one fight and finished off quickly. The best fight scene is at the hospital where a group of 5 masked men comes in to finish off their wounded comrade. Between them and the wounded man is Sathya (who is asked to go off for his tea break so that they can finish their job).
The fight sequence was properly executed – one masked man attacks Sathya, gets defeated, limps back injured and another masked man takes turn to attack Sathya. Once again, the camera angle is taken from another perspective – at one point, the camera moves around (not showing the characters), sounds of knives slashing and beating up is heard and when the camera moves away, you will see the leader of the masked men has a knife stuck on his back and his side and limps away.
(Sathya is working with a special police team to apprehend the kidnappers. Photo source: http://sulekha.com)
Nothing is overdone here and with strong scripts, the acting is simply seamless. Everyone is so natural in their character. Many “spices” of acting can be seen in this movie – a best friend feel cheated with his friend, best friend feeling guilty on his friend ended to be, a father disappointed with his rowdy son, a bad guy deceiving a good guy to follow corrupt ways, a father losing his emotions seeing his kidnapped & raped daughter pushed off from a van, a policeman disappointed with the slips by the crooks and more.
There are about 4 songs – 3 after the start of the movie. The songs are not bad but this is not the plus point of the music director. It is the background music – especially the haunting violin at key points of the movie.
Towards the end and after Krupa is deeply involved with the kidnappers, there would be kidnapping of the IGP’s daughters. As the special police team force is listening to the demands of the kidnappers, none had noticed Sathya in the background with his hands on his mouth and crying in disbelief. He recognised the kidnapper’s voice as his best friend’s voice. There and then, Sundar C decides to play the violin. Immediately the whole feeling of the scene gets amplified and the viewers are brought down to Sathya’s level – in shock to know that his best friend had gone off to wrong ways.
Anjathey has been called as truly one of the master pieces of Tamil cinema in recent years.
After seeing the movie, I was speechless – a rare moment when everything falls in well – direction, storyline, music, acting and fight scenes. There are “near misses” in the storyline (such as Sathya not arresting the wounded masked men when he had the chance) but it could have been intentionally kept as such by the director. Although there is a “cop-bad guy” story in there, Anjathey is more focussed on the 2 friends – how their path in life took an unexpected turn and how it is ended. Mssykin in an interview mentioned that he did many experiments when doing the movie – experiments that certainly paid off well. Fresh faces for the characters, a strong storyline gave a well made movie – a rarity for Tamil movies in the past. On the watch out for more Mysskin classics in the near future.