Movie Review: Anwar ...

By Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM

imageCinema is all about narrating stories. Sometimes, the premise appears interesting, but is letdown by sloppy storytelling techniques. At times, the plot lacks the meat to entice the moviegoer, but the execution of the subject matter more than compensates for the flaws and deficiencies.

ANWAR evokes mixed reactions in a viewer. The concept [inspired by a short story FALGUN KI EK UPKATHA by Priamvad] is interesting, but the sub-tracks interwoven in the plot make you restless. Let’s get it straight: It’s the screenplay that plays truant this time!

ANWAR could’ve evolved into a thought-provoking film had director Manish Jha concentrated on the core issue, instead of the sundry opportunistic characters that flit in and out in those 2.30 hours. Agreed, the politicians, the media, everyone wants to capitalize on an issue, but in this case, Jha should’ve kept these characters as the backdrop, not getting into details about their personal lives. Worse, these stories are disjointed, haven’t been given a culmination and aren’t remotely connected to the protagonist.

It’s like watching seven different stories in one film. To recall an adage, too many cooks spoil the broth!

If the script is faulty, what adds to the chaos is the abstract narrative at times. Why did Jha dress up Anwar as Lord Krishna? And why does Lord Krishna resurface towards the end? Besides, what is Vijay Raaz, a beggar, trying to say in the film? And what’s Rajpal Yadav up to?

The only chapter in ANWAR that holds interest is the one-sided affair of Anwar and how he nips the love story [Hiten-Nauheed] with his actions. Even the end -- Anwar is shot dead -- moves you no end. Ideally, Jha should’ve focused on the main story. In a nutshell, ANWAR could’ve turned out to be an attention-grabbing experience, but the unwanted tracks ruin the show.

Anwar is the story of a young man who leaves his home in Lucknow and everything he knows in order to escape a world he no longer recognizes.

All he ever wanted was a love story. Instead, his mentor [Vijay Raaz] commits suicide and his best friend [Hiten Tejwani] and his one true love [Nauheed Cyrusi] betray him. Devastated, emotionally exhausted, he takes refuge in a temple, only to wake up the next morning to find his world turned upside down.

Mistaken for a terrorist, Anwar is surrounded by a host of characters who try and engineer the situation to their profit…

* A rabble-rousing minister [Sudhir Pandey] pitches for the popular vote;

* Two journalists -- one a national TV reporter [Manisha Koirala] and the other a small-town scribe [Rajpal Yadav] -- look to resurrect their careers and, as a consequence, their lives;

* A senior police officer [Yashpal Sharma] only wants to leave, but must first resolve the situation;

* The minister’s sidekick [Pankaj Jha] has his own agenda;

* A movie director [Sanjay Mishra] is keen on shooting an item song on the location.

As pointed out at the outset, the screenplay of ANWAR is a complete downer. Let’s start with the sub-plots that drive your nuts… How is the Minister’s extra-marital affair connected to the main plot? Add to it the Valentine’s Day track, which also has no relevance to the story… Manisha’s estranged relationship [Sushant Singh] is equally unexplainable... What’s Vijay Raaz doing in the film? And the less said about his love story the better… Rajpal Yadav’s frantic search for George Bush is highly irritating. If it was meant to be funny, it’s not… Yashpal Sharma’s personal life too gets ample footage, even though it’s not required… The worst track is that of Sanjay Mishra [the director], who is forced to announce pack-up and ends up drinking in a bar with his unit hands. His monologue in the bar is atrocious!

All these tracks should be mercilessly edited/trimmed since they aren’t related to the main plot. Fine, the director wanted to depict these characters, but where was the need to delve into their personal lives?

The poignant moments that stay with you appear in the second hour. Anwar’s relationship with his tenant [Nauheed], the sequences with his friend [Hiten] and the culmination to Hiten-Nauheed’s story are sensitively handled.

Director Manish Jha’s execution is satisfactory in the latter reels, but it’s the screenplay that harms than heals the film. There’s not much scope for music in the film and the item song [‘Bangla Khula’] is like an uninvited guest in the narrative. Even the lyrics are vulgar. The two tracks that stand out are ‘Maula Mere’ [singer: Roopkumar Rathod; music: Mithoon] and another winning track by composer Mithoon again, ‘Tose Naina Lagey’ [singer: Kshitij]. The songs are sure to appeal to the connoisseurs of good music. Cinematography [Kartik Vijay] is up to the mark.

After making his acting debut in an obnoxious film [FUN], Siddharth Koirala makes his second appearance in an author-backed role in ANWAR. He displays complete understanding of the character and handles it with élan. In fact, if there’s one character you take back home, its Siddharth’s portrayal of Anwar.

Hiten Tejwani, who made his big screen debut with KRISHNA COTTAGE, is efficient this time. Nauheed Cyrusi too is extremely likeable. Among the host of characters, Pankaj Jha [as Sudhir Pandey’s sidekick] is first-rate. Sudhir Pandey acts very well.

On the whole, ANWAR tries to make a statement, but too many sub-plots in the screenplay spoil the show. At the box-office, the film caters to a tiny section of moviegoers, who too wouldn’t be completely satiated with the outcome. Rating: 1


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