Lingusamy has delivered some good action thrillers in the past, so teaming up with Suriya for this latest venture certainly sounded like a good move. However Anjaan trundles along a fairly predictable path interspersed with a few too many fight sequences (as excellently choreographed as they are) and oddly placed flashbacks that disrupt the narrative flow. The film is saved to some extent by good performances from the main leads – Suriya is effortlessly charismatic and instils life into his often routine character, while Samantha is cute and bubbly despite having to dance like a maniac. Sound acting cannot completely compensate for a plot which, while frequently formulaic, fails to present a believable chain of events in a convincing way. I also can’t see why it was necessary to set the film in Mumbai as it didn’t seem to have any relevance to the story, and the resultant dubbing of the Hindi actors is noticeably out of sync. Anjaan isn’t terrible but in comparison with other recent commercial films, it doesn’t come anywhere near the same standard of storytelling, and really should have been much better.
The film starts with Krishna (Suriya) heading to Mumbai from Chennai to try and find his missing brother, Raju (also Suriya). He’s armed with an elbow crutch and a laptop, but doesn’t seem to have much to go on apart from a handful of names and addresses which take him, along with comedy stalwart Soori as his reluctant taxi driver, to some very dodgy places. It doesn’t take too long for Krishna to discover that his brother was a notorious gangster who revelled in the name Raju Bhai and after a few false steps he finally tracks down one of the gang members to find out more about his brother. Baashka (Joe Malloori) is able to fill in the blanks and the film moves to flash-back mode to tell the story of Raju and his best buddy Chandru (Vidyut Jamwal).
There is never any explanation of how Raju Bhai and Chandru Bhai have gained their fearsome reputation or even any detail about their criminal activities, which is part of the problem with the rest of the story. The big revenge plot which follows doesn’t have much credibility when there isn’t any solid foundation for the story and the other characters are too one-dimensional to impact. Vidyut Jamwal was impressive in his previous roles as a villain but he’s just not on screen enough here to make much of a mark. His Chandru appears to be borderline ASD with many obsessive behaviours and signs that he doesn’t communicate well with others – hard for Vidyut to make much impact when most of his role involved moody silences and brooding looks. However he is excellent at these, and I just wish there had been more for him to get his teeth into here. Luckily for Chandru he has Raju to deal with the rest of the world for him, and although Vidyut Jamwal and Suriya make a good ‘bhai’ pairing and appear to be on the cusp of some good chemistry, it never quite manages to get going before the camera whisks away to yet another fight scene.
Suriya totally rocks his casual gangster style and cool spiky hair. He’s just as comfortable as a violent gangster as he is in the more cerebral role of Krishna. He also has some good chemistry with Samantha at the beginning of their romance although this vanishes later in the film when Samantha is relegated to the usual Tamil heroine status, only appearing in the songs or as a damsel in distress. Her opening scenes are good and I did have hope that she would have a chance to be more than just eye candy but in the end that seems to be the only reason for her inclusion. Sadly she’s also short-changed in the wardrobe department for many of the songs and much of her choreography seem to be of the ‘dance like no-one is watching’ variety. As if that wasn’t bad enough there is a particularly sleazy item song in the second half and a very unnecessary and totally unfunny appearance by Brahmi. All very seem to be added in to fulfil the standard checklist for a commercial mass masala film, and all are completely superfluous to requirements.
The fight scenes, although excellently choreographed and filmed are also repetitive and strangely soul-less given that the supposed motive is revenge. Manoj Bajpai is a bit of a nonentity as the smarmy villain of the piece Imran Bhai, while Murali Sharma and Chetan Hansraj are more effective in their negative roles. Santosh Sivan’s cinematography at least makes the film look great but there are a few too many close-ups of Samantha’s coloured contact lenses for my liking – I really don’t need to see the printed iris pattern that clearly outside of my optometry practice!
Although Linguswamy seems to have checked his Big Masala Cook Book and added all the right ingredients he seems to have forgotten the seasoning and ends up with a bland dish that veers into tasteless all too often. Suriya makes Anjaan worth a one time watch if you’re a fan, but by the end even he seems to be resigned to the monotonous gangs he has to beat his way through every 5 minutes. For all Anjaan’s big budget effects and slickly packaged action scenes at the end of the day nothing can cover up the lack of a story or the absence of engaging dialogue, and that really says it all.