Aneethi Movie Review: Arjun Das shines in this middling proletariat revenge thriller

The film could have risen above the so-so space with some more finesse in treatment and crisp narrative and execution choices
Aneethi Movie Review: Arjun Das shines in this middling proletariat revenge thriller

Vasanthabalan's Aneethi has a working-class hero, Arjun Das' Thirumeni aka Thiru. Carrying the scar of a crippled past, the fragile hero walks on the brim of vulnerability into a tunnel of darkness. And when an unexpected ray of hope emerges, little does he know that it will only last for a whiff and the familiar gloom will engulf him, all over again.

Director: Vasanthabalan

Cast: Arjun Das, Dushara Vijayan, Vanitha Vijaykumar, Arjun Chidambaram, Shanta Dhananjayan

Thiru works as a food delivery agent in a firm called Meal Monkey. Early in the film, we see him facing harsh treatment from customers. From being forced to walk up to the 13th floor to being punished by cancelling orders for an one-off mistake, these scenes remind us of similar real-life instances that made news in recent times.

Such encounters irk him and test his patience. He realises that he has been having killing instincts for some time and seeks medical intervention for this disorder which 1 in 1000 individuals have. From the beginning, the film addresses the struggles of the proletariat class, the trials due to privatisation and the power abuse by the capitalists. And at a point in the film, Thiru finds his love of life, Dushara's Subbu, who is a domestic help at an elitist elderly woman's (played by veteran Shanta Dhananjayan) house. Subbu is also abused, and treated poorly, simply because of the class she belongs to and the work she does. Things take a violent turn when the elderly woman is found dead, and Subbu and Thiru are accused by her family of killing her for money.

In this non-linear narrative, Vasanthabalan tries to leave a few breadcrumbs — like Thiru's aversion to chocolates since childhood and the glimpses of brutal Thiru drenched in blood — all over the place. While it does not sit well and feels forcefully chipped in a few places, the film drags it to the climax to join all the dots. The poignant flashback about his childhood trauma reasons for his present condition and actions. However, stacking it up to the end seemed a little overwhelming, especially as it is followed by a ruthless and bloody killing episode.

Aneethi, which translates to injustice, primarily shows to what extent people with money and power can exploit the working class. We see it best through the characters of Anitha (Vanitha) and Arjun (Arjun Chidambaram), the children of the elderly woman. When they get to know that Subbu has hidden the news about their mother's death, they physically abuse her. The disturbing and triggering visuals reach their peak with the custodial torture that Thiru undergoes at the police station. At a point, the abuse at the house and police station suffocates when it overstays its momentum.
This well-intended film that strives to reflect on the pathos of proletariat darts an impressive mark for creating a compelling arc for Thiru's character. A sincere Arjun Das effortlessly steps into the shoes of Thiru and delivers an earnest performance. In the chasms of sorrow, in the pangs of vulnerability, in the embrace of love, and storms of violence, Arjun skillfully evokes a range of emotions within us. And an effective Dushara plays her part well as a struggling and timid Subbu. The laboured writing congregates the poignant baggage of Thiru's past and the familiar recurrence in the present, all while being anchored by the profound force of love.

While the first half effectively grips the audience's attention with a handful of thrills and establishments, a few portions in the second half, like bringing Aranthangi Nisha as a comic relief and the NRI family's overboard reactions, became faltering. While songs composed by GV Prakash were outstanding, the clangorous background score was quite overindulgent.

The film tries to touch on many aspects of working-class problems and certainly echoes good intentions. But it could have risen above the so-so space with some more finesse in treatment and crisp narrative and execution choices. As Aneethi reaches its climax, the heft of unjust and brutal encounters in life so far, awakens the dormant demon within this seemingly placid individual, ultimately leading Thiru to embrace an unjust path to confront the very injustice...once and for all as he stands as a mirror to this unfair society. 

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