You can't find fault with UTV's absolutely brilliant marketing strategy and hype they created for Anjaan. The buzz was terrific, expectations sky high. For all the gory violence, they even managed a U certificate for the film. This translated into a huge opening weekend and easily the highest of Suriya's already incredibly successful career. Unfortunately, what they didn't do was to choose a good enough script. Anjaan is handicapped badly by a hackneyed and lazy story with poor characterizations and a highly predictable narrative flow that wastes its star and his solid acting ability. Not just the film, they were plainly unimaginative in some of the other departments as well. The logo for instance is but a poor rehash of the 7aum Arivu one with its similar use of the eyes. This, when 7aum Arivu is one of the disappointments in Suriya's career.
There is little in Anjaan that keeps you to the edge of your seat. An old-fashioned not so intriguing tale of revenge that takes about 170 minutes to unfold, it reiterates that no amount of technical polish (shot on 6K resolution) and lavish mounting can save a mediocre product. The film is supposed to be a mass entertainer but the items fall flat. Twists and turns in a weak screenplay that are seen a mile away, one-dimensional characterizations, tepid romantic sequences, a typically dim-witted heroine totally redundant to the story, a bromance without depth and emotion, badly placed, picturized and composed songs, unfunny comedy sequences - all combine to wipe away what little pluses the film gains from a decent central act by Suriya, the odd action sequence and some polished camerawork by Santosh Sivan even if nowhere near his best. The film does have a big though foreseeable twist just before the interval to give it a rare momentary high, but on the flip side, this all but kills the film as it leaves us with a rather predictable and wafer thin plot with a disappointing climax in the second half.
Suriya does what he can but the material clearly defeats him. He has his best moments as Krishna (though he looks like he walked in from Vaaranam Aayiram's sets) and a couple of human ones as the don, Raju Bhai. However, the audience pleasing role of Raju suffers from sketchy characterization and the bits once he falls in love, make him out to be a stupidly silly college boy and totally at odds with the dreaded don he is supposed to be. His foray into singing (Ek Do Teen Char) is disastrous. While the tune is simple enough for him to carry, there is no modulation or feeling in the flat singing. To make things worse, it is the most badly placed song in the film. Oh wait, there's the item number with Chitrangda Singh - never thought she would ever be able to look cheap, but...
Much as he tries hard, one cannot only fault UTV or Director Lingusamy and absolve Suriya of the blame of the film's mediocrity. After all, he chose to do this film after hearing it out. He is today in a position where he can pick his roles and this is what he chooses. If the negative reviews and word of mouth do result in a drop in collections - already happened in the US and UK where Saturday collections were considerably lower than Friday and Sunday less than Saturday - it would not be surprising.
Samantha has no role to speak of and the story would have been the same without her because the romantic track is incidental to the plot as it is. Her looks have always been schizophrenic and here too it is no different. She either looks really good or simply terrible. Vidyut Jamwal has some screen presence and adepts himself in the one fight sequence he has on his own. However, he continues to be a wooden performer. The entire lot of Mumbai actors including yes, even Manoj Bajpayee, are badly wasted and are simply awful. They also cause severe distraction while viewing as they are clearly not talking Tamil, leading to rather obvious lip sync problems in the dubbing.
Only cinematographer Santosh Sivan comes through somewhat with his reputation intact on the technical side. Yuvan Shankar Raja's compositions are indifferent yet again and the background score seems to be designed to try and drown away the film's shortcomings with its loudness. Normally, I always say editors are bound by the material they are given and it is very easy to say the film needed trimming. But genuinely here, there are sequences that could have been deleted - the entire sequence with Brahmanandam, followed by the friendship scene between Suriya and Vidyut and the dancing to a medley of Hindi numbers for instance, can be thrown straight out. Even as I write this, news is filtering in that 20 minutes of the film has been trimmed. If this is true, then it is a criminal waste of time, effort and money. This reinforces the need for much more thought and editing of any film to be done at the script level itself.
Planned as the blockbuster of the year, star power and its marketing blitz might yet carry Anjaan through but as a film, it is sadly THE epic disappointment of the year.