Anaganaga O Athidhi Movie Review: An overlong, testing drama
The sluggish pace of this Anaganaga O Athidhi and the exaggerated emotions make us wonder if this is a television soap.
Veteran filmmaker K Balachander was a creator known for his take on twisted relationships. His film universe made viewers think of sin and virtue, and was known for its strong-willed, grey-shaded characters and the startling twists. The plot of Anaganaga O Athidhi, the remake of the Kannada film, Aa Karaala Ratri, feels like a winning Balachander recipe on paper. However, the experience is spoilt by the overlong and exaggerated presentation. It brings to mind Chaitanya Krishna's character, Srinivas, saying, "It is late. If you cook the curry any longer, the chicken may just end up springing back to life!" It could well be a commentary on director Dayal Padmanabhan taking his time with this film.
Director: Dayal Padmanabhan
Cast: Payal Rajput, Chaitanya Krishna, Veena Sundar, Ananda Chakrapani
This is a film that bets on its final reveal and feels force-fitted into the feature film format. By the time the surprise comes along, there’s a good chance that you are uninvested. There are no real red herrings here to distract us, no subtlety in the hints, no great masking of this reveal. Logic too seems to go for a toss in several instances. The transition of an innocent family into one that plots a murder, especially involving a mother, feels highly unrealistic.
It’s a frame-by-frame remake, and it’s important to note that what made the original Kannada film, Aa Karaala Ratri, successful was how the performances elevated the film. The motives of the main characters were efficiently masked by actors Karthik Jayaram and Anupama Gowda in the original, but here, the child-like smile of Chaitanya Krishna betrays the truth. Though Payal Rajput delivers one of the better performances in this film, the language does seem to be an impediment.
The sluggish pace of this film and the exaggerated emotions make us wonder if this is a television soap. The background score and songs of Arrol Corelli are also reminiscent of such an experience, given how loud and all-pervasive it is. The incessant flutes are constantly nudging us to feel pleasant, and the loud chorus portions threaten us into feeling intimidated. It is puzzling that the same composer, in some of his other films, has made brilliant use of silence.
OTT platforms, unlike the theatres, offer us the option of fast-forwarding content, and while this is sacrilegious for a reviewer to even consider, I think I felt closest to doing this while watching this film than I have ever.