Annadurai: An off and on drama hampered by a sudden genre shift and preachy dialogues
The film veers off completely from a family-centric melodrama into a severely underwhelming gangster thriller and ends on a sombre note
In the ever-crowded hero-centric film space, it is imperative that you carve a niche for yourself to remain relevant. Vijay Antony has done this by doing roles that's got people lining up in theatres, only so they can see something 'different'. Unfortunately for them, Annadurai isn't that.
Director: G Srinivasan
Cast: Vijay Antony, Diana Champika, Mahima, Jewel Mary
It is Vijay Antony's first film in which he plays a dual role -- the titular character, Annadurai, and his twin brother... Thambidurai. Annadurai takes to alcohol after seeing the death of his bride-to-be, but is otherwise a stand-up guy. He shoos away school boys who enter the bar. He saves the heroine from a gang rape. He gives alms. He affixes his thumbprints on blank sheets of bond paper for his friend.
The differences between Annadurai and Thambidurai are fairly straightforward. The former drinks, the latter doesn't. The former wears a shirt and veshti, while the latter is always dressed in smart casuals. The former has a beard; the latter doesn't. And when Anna decides to shave and impersonate his thambi to escape the loan shark, all hell breaks loose.
It takes some time for you to warm up to the film and for most of the first half, it is the perky Mahima (who's engaged to Thambidurai) and her narrative arc that keeps you interested. The girl's father praises her culinary skills thus: "Kootu saapdunga, kootitu poiduveenga." Annadurai's arc almost seems to go nowhere till a blockbuster interval block in which happens the role reversal.
The second half veers off completely from the family-centric melodrama the film was, into a severely underwhelming gangster thriller and ends on a sombre note that leaves you wishing that the film had simply focussed on Annadurai's quest for redemption.
Vijay Antony debuts in this film as an editor and it's a competent job from him, as he ties down everything well. The placement of songs ensures that the pace is not compromised. This is very much evident in the two songs picturised on the two brothers - one coming in the opening credits and one in the second half when the younger one undergoes a transformation.
The film's preachy dialogues are a dampener. Take, for example, the opening scene in which after saving a woman from gang rape, Annadurai asks her not to stay out late at night without parents. Contrast this insensitivity to the clever portrayal of the character Esther, who, despite never getting shown, manages to haunt the film. If only the whole film were as clever.