***HEAVY SPOILERS ahead, READ ONLY IF you have watched Anegan.***
At the bottom of my review, you can find questions and answers related to Anegan.
Ever since Dhanush announced his project Anegan with maverick director K.V.Anand 2 years back with the first look poster and title logo, my expectations grew sky high as months passed by, with many ideas & themes about the film getting generated in my mind only to be proved wrong at regular intervals of the shooting phase. Later, the teaser and trailer easily amped my confidence even more on the film and Harris Jayaraj’s addictive songs were added bonus before the release. Anegan is considered to be the most expensive movie of Dhanush in terms of budget bankrolled by AGS Entertainment and this could very well be the most unprecedented movie from the star in his 13 year old career. We might have seen Dhanush in different shades for one single character but has Dhanush ever played more than 1 role in his films before Anegan? The answer is a straight NO, and Anegan is one of its own kind where Dhanush is seen in 4 different avatars in 4 different time periods – Murugappan, Ashwin, Ilamaaran (Prince) and Kaali, but in actual, he has played 3 distinct roles in the film. Confused? Ok, let me get into the film.
The abstraction of ‘Reincarnation’ or ‘Poorva Jenmam’ and Maru Jenmam’ is something that has been seldom exploited in our Tamil Cinema since the black and white days. The mysteries of life and death have always fascinated me. I often wonder what happens to us after we die. For every loss of a loved one we tend to fill that void with another person’s presence. And this film precisely deals with the subject of life and death in the form of an innovative reincarnation story. A handful of filmmakers have been fair with the concept which could grab the audiences’ attention, but otherwise must have killed the idea and left the audience whining or breaking their head. And wait, I am not going to draw comparisons with hollywood, bollywood or even tollywood for the simple reason that this kind of genres come around only once in a blue moon in Tamil Cinema and we must learn to appreciate the efforts taken by the team to give us a prodigious product.
Story : Anegan is an imposing entertainer that works on multiple levels. As the name suggests, Anegan means, a man with many shadows. The film is a fascinating psychological thriller that’s intriguing packaged with fantasy-commercial elements! It has a fresh premise with a beautiful love story between Dhanush and Amyra cut across four time periods. The story revolves around four avatars of the two lead characters through various timeline and how they interconnect between each other is all about the film. Anegan first starts in Burma during 1962 when Tamilians lived in large numbers there and Tamil merchants dominated the business. On an interesting incident a tamil construction worker Murugappan (Dhanush) saves the life of a Burmese General’s Daughter Samudhra (Amyra) at a trade-fair. What follows is usual, the boy and the girl fall in love with each other and plan to elope but they are destined to seperate and die due to some hurdles. Cut to the present day life story, Madhu (Amyra) is seen narrating these stories to a psychiatrist (Lena) who is going through regression therapies. Ashwin (Dhanush) and Madhu (Amyra) are working in a Gaming Company headed by Kiran (Karthik). At the risk of deviating from multiple generations plot, the director shows the worsening work pressure situation and medications taken by software professionals working in that company. Ashwin who recently joined the company meets Madhu and Madhu falls in love with him assuming herself to be Samudhra and whom she met is Murugappan. Aswhin does not believe in such imaginations but still has feelings for her. She even narrates to him the story of Ilamaaran (Dhanush) and Shenbagavalli (Amyra) who were in love several years ago but eventually even they died. Then the story switches gear to go back to yet another generation during one of the regression therapies Amyra goes. This episode takes place in Vyasarpadi during 1987, when a local painter Kaali (Dhanush) falls in love with a Brahmin girl Kalyani (Amyra) and plan to elude from the city but only to get killed again. So each time Dhanush and Amyra were set apart and killed. As we come across many twists and turns, do the two souls in the form of Ashwin and Madhu unite this time atleast? Watch the filmto know!
Yes, Anegan looks to be complex with multiple layers, but not confusing to be honest. Anegan is one such movie which demands utmost concentration on the first viewing or only repeated viewings can help grasp the great plot. The real test in crafting a mystery thriller is in how you undo the knots which you have so painstakingly constructed and director K.V.Anand passes this test quite efficiently with the help of writers SuBa. They not only manage to create intrigue in the first half but also solve the puzzle that was created in a plausible manner in the second half with no loose ends or illogical screenplay. Director K.V.Anand is one of those filmmakers who is known for his larger-than-life movies and social themed films he usually deals with, however, Anand with the promos, he made us aware that this film is going to be a different experience altogether. And it does not disappoint even a bit. He chose a path less traversed in Tamil Cinema and Anegan not only takes this difficult path to the winning post but also comes out on top to entertain in all respects. As a story-teller the narrative is like reading the most gripping novel one could imagine. The dialogues are relatable, crisp and logical in the proceedings. Anand takes his time and reveals each layer of the story one by one leaving the viewer completely engrossed in the proceedings. The shift in genres, the use of flashbacks in the narrative and the subsequent confusing twists and turns in the story are all perfectly done. Anand and SuBa’s unique fusion of elements like eternal everlasting love, reincarnation, past life regression, murder, gaming, red herrings & drug abuse, and above all, the novel treatment sets ANEGAN aside from the rest. Hats off to the script department!
One can’t deny the fact that, K.V.Anand has an eye for detail and his strength lies in capturing poignant moments from the lives of these characters. What I really loved about the direction is, K.V.Anand did not take everything for granted and added a whole lot of authenticity with some references. In the opening song of Deivangal Enge, the idea to show Burmese current activist leader Aang San Suu Kyi as the heroine’s class mate during a class roll-call was a terrific move. The mass exodus of Tamilians from Burma in 1962 which happened for real as the setting for the love not succeeding was a well researched concept. In the Vyasarpadi portion, the historic events in 1987 of politics and cricket was shown through print, TV and newpapers and other background detailing which is highly remarkable. When Madhu (Amyra) visits NSS camp in 2001, the events like the US 9/11 attack and Jayalalitha’s rise to CM in her 2nd term getting disrupted was shown through newspapers and calendars. Most importantly, in the current scenario, today video game companies are increasingly tapping psychologists’ expertise to make games even more compelling, challenging & fun and that is exactly what K.V.Anand has tried to show here.
Coming to the cast, performance wise, no words can describe the magnificence of Dhanush, he can go up with heads high of the fact that, he is no more an ordinary actor down the lane and there is a lot left in that lean body. Anegan perhaps could be the best damn thing to happen to a hero who goes about choosing films not by heroism, but by story of late. Dhanush completely immerses himself in each of his characters , does it with charm and ease. He exhibits peak variations in each of the eras which are inter-linked. Dhanush as the Burmese lad Murugappa with his strange hairdo is very interesting, the scene where he saves Amyra (Samudhra) and explains her mother about her daughters value is highly creditable. The innocent love between Dhanush and Amyra in scenic Burma is beautifully captured onscreen. Dhanush as Vyasarpadi Kaali is the major center of attraction for mass audience, without any second thoughts, its the definite high point in the movie – his accent and mannerism, especially when he visits Thalaivasal Vijay’s house lifts up the experience altogether. The stunts look daringly energetic and loved the cheerful dance of the Dangamaari song featuring in this segment, the excitement scales to the maximum to say the least. Dhanush in the present day as Ashwin – system administrator thinks practical. He looks stylish, trendy and suave throughout this portions. The climax scene where Dhanush mimics and mocks Karthik is a total riot and commendable. Dhanush as Ilamaaran (Prince) except for the princely costumes in the the breezy visuals of Roja Kadale song, the character has nothing much to say as it is absolute illusion from Madhu and thanks to K.V.Anand for not complicating it further. Unlike most commercial films, here the heroines Amyra Dastur and Aishwarya Devan are not mere eye candy but their characters has been well etched. Amyra needs to be applauded for making her debut in a movie which has enough scope to perform that has equal weightage as that of the protagonist. She drives the movie forward with her role. Trust me, I was so sceptical at first but Amyra comes out with a brilliant-knockout performance. Amyra as playful Samudhra, eccentric Madhu, soft-spoken Kalyani and then the adorable Princess for the song, Amyra fitted amazingly into each characters. She is extremely proficient in short. Aishwarya Devan as Mallika and Meera makes a good debut, she impresses majorly in the ghosts appearing episode where she is thrown out of the building and then in the Burma episode where she betrays Dhanush and Amyra. Karthik as Ravi and Kiran are huge surprises that I never expected, what a comeback for this actor after several years! Karthik carries himself convincingly as the head of the gaming company and when asked to look young in the flashback portions set in Vyasarpadi, he does it with style. Karthik’s matured Americanized accent looks natural on him and some of his witty dialogues are interesting with flair. The brave villainy act towards the end is the highlight. Ashish Vidyarthi as the police commisioner has a small yet an important role. The rest of the cast like Jagan, Lena, Mukesh and Thalaivasal Vijay did their part perfectly.
Anegan is technically sound. Harris Jayaraj’s music is definitely one of the highlights of the film. The scintillating songs and good RR of Harris Jayaraj enhance the appeal, and it is his best work in recent times. K.V.Anand has done a fantastic job here which needs utmost concentration even in the songs as many things get conveyed. They have been beautifully picturized and the background score is in sync with the film’s various moods although gets monotonous at some places. And cinematographer Om Prakash’s work is eye-catching with terrific visuals and colors that has been captured in various eras. The splendor of Burma is breathtaking in every frame. Aathadi Aathadi is a visual and an aural delight. The Roja Kadale song in particular looks gorgeous, thanks to the exotic locations chosen by K.V.Anand. Other tracks like Dangamaari & Thodu Vaanam are also humworthy. The rich look of the film is mainly due to camerawork of Prakash and his lighting is top class. Editor Anthony needs to be lauded for his editing work. Given the multi-layered story, the screenplay takes many twists and confusing turns. There is some kind of mystery at every level, the racy narration makes you want to wait and watch. Thanks to him who made it seamless and crispy as one scene melds to another effortlessly for such a complex narration. The costume department needs special mention for the kind of striking outfits the lead cast get to wear. Art director Kiran’s massive efforts has resulted in creating the scenes of Burma era look excellent and are delight to watch, be it the interior of ship or 1980’s Vysarpadi streets or the posh gaming office. Stunts are spectacular and the fantasy element in the film gives the liberty for the director to experiment with some highly exaggerated stunts that does not go overboard. The SFX team has done a great CG work while few were indicative of the budget limit given to the director. In all, the film looks rich and grand.
Reincarnation stories are sometimes complicated but KV Anand’s packaging, the way he unravels it in climax, the viewers are made to be hooked till the last scene. Anegan is a film that doesn’t insult your intelligence. The sub-plots are usual or even routine but the overall treatment makes all the difference. Every frame spells grandeur and fantastic visuals. It is a concoction that I wonder how the film makers arrived at – by design or by accident, because I have never seen anything like this ever in Tamil Cinema. Anand and SuBa are no doubt passionate writers who have taken their time to painstakingly craft this remarkable tale with total conviction. Unlike any story-teller Anand rushes into the main plot and doesn’t take much time in establishing the core crux of the story and allows the viewer to completely become involved into the proceedings from the start. There are parts of the movie which has enough suspense which is spellbinding and riveting at the same time, and this is without a doubt one of the best commercial films to have come in recent times. The story of ANEGAN might be a benchmark for some directors as it’s a tightly woven , multi-layered, highly complex tale in the simplest form which doesn’t falter even once, and manages to only get better and better with each passing frame. If there is one minor flaw in the movie that stands out like a sore thumb, then it’s the clichéd pre-climax, which probably could have been a little better.
On the whole, Anegan is experimental, utterly gripping and deeply researched psychological thriller that is worth your time. Ultimately, Anegan rests on the towering talent of K.V.Anand and SuBa for the efforts they had put up for the script. Anegan has some solid moments, great suspense and terrific performances by Dhanush, Amyra and Karthik and a riveting storyline. Must watch for the experimental attempt if you love thrillers that may turn you on!
My Rating – 3.75/5
Now after having watched the film, many will obviously have some unanswered questions, doubts since the film apparently appears to be confusing. I’ll try clarifying a few things that people were debating in the social forums but first let me put it like this :
I personally felt that ANEGAN dealt with four periods which were a mixture of RE-BIRTH (Murugappan-Samudhra), CREATIVE IMAGINATION (Prince-Princess), NARRATION OF REAL LIFE INCIDENT (Kaali-Kalyani) and TODAY’S REALITY (Ashwin-Madhu).
1. Murugappan – Samudhra (Burma) : Madhu (Amyra) says there is no hallucination and what she saw was her real past life. But when Dhanush enters Amyra’s room, we see Aang San Suu Kyi framed photo hung and he says “Nee padicha books, patha cinema, engayo kaeta information ella un moolaila kolambi karpana kathaiya veliya varuthu”, you can see a book on Amyra’s table named something like “Tales from Burma” clearly indicating from where she gets the story. But then again Lena, the psychiatrist says that in regression therapies, one would share only childhood experiences but Madhu is even able to give information about her past life story. The Guruji confirms Madhu that she is indeed having memories of her past lives. Then the last scene of the film where the tree carved with their names exactly as shown in the Burma episode. So, this is left to the viewers, it could be co-incidence that, what Amyra is imagining in present life about Murugappan and Samudhra could have happened in 1962 which she is not able to justify. Also, Aishwarya Devan is the reason for Dhanush and Amyra’s death in Burma. If you believe in KARMA strongly, then that is how Aishwarya Devan sees ghosts (again this is imagined by Aishwarya Devan) and she is killed in the Present Day.
2. Prince – Princess (Exotic locations) : This is pure hallucination from Madhu. There is no back story and K.V.Anand just restricted this episode to one single song which easily indicates that there is no reincarnation here. A complete imagination of Madhu due to the drugs prescribed by the psychiatrist. The whole regression hypnosis session was recorded and the information/details Madhu provided were used to create new online games.
3. Kaali – Kalyani (Vyasarpadi) : Again, you can interpret the way you want. Kaali (Dhanush) says to Ravi (Karthik), “Unoda saavu en kaila thaanda” and he comes in the form of Ashwin (Dhnaush) to kill Kiran (Karthik) in the climax. But I still believe it is the real life incident. This whole incident is narrated by Madhu because she visited the old age to see Kalyani’s father – Thalaivasal Vijay and she comes to know through specific sketches on the wall of his room. Madhu identified the final resting place of Kaali-Kalyani through the sketches which has been strongly imprinted in her mind. And it was also through the sketches that she recognized Inspector Gopinath. Hence, there is no reincarnation angle or illusion as such. The resemblance of Ashwin-Madhu to Kaali-Kalyani was again mere coincidence.
The final fight : All the 3 avatars (Murugappan, Prince and Kaali) unify into one soul in Ashwin’s body. The fight takes place in banyan trees area where Kiran (Karthik) resides and the couple were buried under similar branches of Banyan trees in Vyasarpadi (reference to Kaali-Kalyani), Ashwin made a jump towards the sea (reference to Murugappan), Ashwin picks up the knife and holds it in a peculiar fashion (reference to Kaali) and Ashwin fights just like how the Prince did. Now these all are again nothing but just coincidence but from Madhu’s point of view, she feels all the souls merged to kill Karthik!
Now few questions that people were debating on:
(1) Burma portions were illusions or re-incarnation?
Ans: Open end, you can take it as you wish, or it could be the combination of both. I assume it to be re-incarnation as I mentioned above.
(2) Why only Amyra gets such wild imaginations and why not Dhanush, Jegan and other employees?
Ans : Because the drugs are taken by only creative department people and work to a small extent for others. Madhu has been put under the scanner more through the doctor and she goes for more regression therapies. Dhanush has just joined the company, moreover he is not in the developing team, he is just a system administrator and he comes to know about the drug abuse only at the fag end of the film.
(3) Why did Aishwarya Devan cheat Dhanush and Amyra in the ship (Burma portion) ?
Ans : She was in love with Dhanush and wanted to marry him, but she was forced to marry Jegan.
(4) Did the ghosts really come to the office to molest Aishwarya Devan?
Ans : NO. Remember even she is taking the capsules given by Doctors. She was designing a game on ghost and got completely immersed in it 24/7 and she starts getting illusions and she perceives them as real and she dies. What Amyra sees after Aishwarya Devan’s death is also hallucination as Dhanush proves that there happened nothing of that sorts in a CC TV camera.
(5) What happened to Aishwarya Devan’s death case that the police were investigating?
Ans : Since the ghosts were all her imaginations and despite other employees having the same grugs, they never had such wild delusions and hence the death has been ruled as an accident and no suspects in the gaming office.
(6) Can’t this drug abuse be exposed outside?
Ans : With the authorization of the gaming higher officials this happens inside the company, so no one would do that.
(7) Amyra recognized Dhanush in the first meet at the lift because of Thalaivasal Vijay’s drawing and her illusions of Burma incidents but why she could not recognize Karthik at the first 1st meet of her interview?
Ans : Because in the Karthik’s sketch on the wall, paint emulsion was peeled off, so Amyra did not notice.
(8) If Kaali and Kalyani portions were true life events, how come Madhu was able to re-collect incidents in which Thalaivasal Vijay wasn’t present?
Ans : Rest of the incidents were narrated by Drunken Chella to Thalaivasal Vijay in the Kalyana Mandab Kitchen when Kaali and Kalyani plan to elope from the house.
(9) Why is Karthik making eveyone including Amyra to take drugs?
Ans : For the only reason to make creative games through their wild imaginations. And Karthik sees Amyra on the first day of her interview and wants to kill everyone who knows about the murder he did in 1987 and Amyra (Madhu) knows about the murder through Thalaivasal Vijay who was explaining via his paintings. And top of all these, he does not want Amyra and Dhanush to reunite in this birth too.
(10) Are there 2 Karthiks?
Ans : No, there is only one Karthik, his full name is Ravi Kiran but he was called Ravi (Kiran) in Vysarpadi and Kiran in the gaming company. Ravi lost his finger when Kaali tries to kill and you can see Kiran’s broken finger of the present day in the climax.
(11) Why Ashish Vidyarthi does not arrest Dhanush (Kaali) in the market despite knowing he had a knife behind his back [ he killed a goon (Vajram) in the presence of a huge crowd ] and he was reluctant to arrest him even when he was called by Dhanush in Thalaivasal Vijay’s house?
Ans : Vajram had once attacked Ashish Vidyarthi and left a mark on his face. He thinks Dhanush (Kaali) is the only brave person who can face such a big rowdy and there is no more fear of rowdies in the market and he leaves him.
(12) In the hospital where Amyra is admitted, Ashish says Kaali is the culprit and he ran away to Mumbai, why so? (Please note : Madhu is hallucinating this)
Ans : Because, Dhanush (Kaali) promised Ashish Vidyarthi that he wants to surrender and he is taken to jail, but from there he escapes after he comes to know about Amyra (Kalyani) and Karthik (Ravi) marriage. He hits Jailor Joseph and Karthik kills him, including Kaali and Kalyani who are buried. So Ashish doesn’t know what happened after Dhanush escaped from jail.
(13) Why is Ashish Vidyarthi trying to hide the finger (of Karthik) from Amyra and media when he notices after digging Kaali and Kalyani.
Ans : Since the case was closed 25 years ago, maybe Karthik had asked Ashish to hide it, or perhaps to simply confuse us, director K.V.Anand has left that for us to understand and one of the shots where Ashish is attempting to kill Dhanush inside car from the teaser was chopped off in the film (In Pic), perhaps to divert the audience and later the team decided to cut it to avoid further confusions. Even in the climax Ashish tries to stop Dhanush from killing Karthik, but at the same time he doesn’t kill Dhanush or Amyra despite having a gun in his hand. So is he a good guy or another villain? You decide for yourself.
(14) Why is Ashish and his group aiming at Prince and Princess?
Ans : No specific reason, *Maybe* Kiran was collabarating with Ashish. You may say, Kiran was not present at that era. Anway, those are imaginations from Madhu.
(15) After the lift mishap, Karthik asks if he has seen Dhanush before, why?
Ans : The Kaali-Kalyani’s tale is the real one and Karthik knows both died. Ashwin – Madhu both look like Kaali – Kalyani and they are shown as 25 year olds and Karthik asks if he has already seen Dhanush to see if he is 22 or 23, Dhanush replies he is 25, he checks his age, should be > 25.
Now above all these stuffs, the accidents like giant wheel breaking, the car falling off the bridge, the lift coming down with force, the stunt sequences etc; and still they manage to escape from death. It is practically impossible, yeah agreed. Since this is a fantasy commercial film, don’t dig in too much science or theories behind re-incarnation and all…just sit and enjoy this thriller, it will satisfy you more, when you understand the plot thoroughly. Thank you very much for reading this patiently. If any more doubts pop up, clarifications u need, feel free to ask me. Thanks again! 🙂