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Anaamika: Kahaani with a new spin

When Kahaani released two years back it won many hearts with its taut script and stellar performances. It was an unexpected sort of plot that was carried solely on Vidya Balan’s able shoulders. Anaamika is Sekhar Kammula’s attempt to recreate that success story; but it is not a blatant copy or a remake. What Kammula does is he gives the story his own spin.

Anaamika (Nayantara), an ethical hacker from the US, lands in the city to head straight to the police station to file a missing complaint. Her husband Ajay Shastry, played by Harshvardhan Rane, who’d been sent to Hyderabad on deputation has been missing for over a week and all Anaamika wants to do is find him as soon as possible and at all costs – even if that means dealing with lecherous cops and living in a shady, cockroach-infested hotel room in Old City.

Her first visit to the local police station comes as a rude shock as the lackadaisical cops don’t take her complaint seriously and dismiss the entire incident as a usual case of an unfaithful husband. Finally she finds an aide in Parthasarathi (Vaibhav) who goes out of his way to help her follow clues about Ajay. But where Parambrata Chatterjee followed Vidya Balan’s lead during the course of their investigation in Kahaani, Vaibhav seems to take charge of finding Ajay in Anaamika, while Nayantara plays her cards well as the damsel in distress.

As Anaamika’s search for her missing husband progresses she has to deal with several roadblocks like the lecherous senior cop Ravi Chandra, played by Vinay Varma, an assassin sent to kill her and an overbearing anti-terrorism squad officer Khan (Pasupathy). Things come to a head when Anaamika gets a hold of that all-important hard disk that everyone including the terrorists and the home minister is after. Why the home minister is so keen to have it though is never explained.

While Anaamika is an adaptation of the Hindi thriller, one can’t help but draw parallels between the two. The plot just doesn’t seem as gritty and taut as Kahaani. Even the assassin Bob fails to raise goosebumps unlike his creepy counterpart in the Hindi version. Yet the film has its moments. Sekhar for instance, refuses to draw sympathy votes by showing the protagonist as a pregnant woman. For him Anaamika is just a strong-willed woman out to find her husband at all costs.

While in the first half Nayantara as the simpering wife might not evoke the same kind of reaction Vidya might have in the Hindi version, she comes into her own in the second half of the movie when the plot thickens. Harshvardhan Rane doesn’t have much to do in the film. Vaibhav as the sincere Sarathi does a good job, while Vinay Varma does manage to raise hackles as the lecherous cop with the roving eye. Parthasarathy carries off the role of Khan with élan.

Cast: Nayantara, Vaibhav, Pasupathy

Director: Sekhar Kammula

Genre: Thriller

Plot: A woman’s search for her missing husband

Bottomline: Watchable if you don’t draw parallels with the original

In the safety net

A year is a long time in the movie business. Around the same time last year the media was fawning over Sonakshi Sinha for her poignant portrayal of a patient of tuberculosis in Vikramaditya Motwane’s poetic “Lootera”. It is vacation time again and Sonakshi is in news as director A.R. Murugadoss has put together yet another remake of his Tamil hit in the form of “Holiday” where she is once again attempting to shine in the reflected glory of Akshay Kumar as he dutifully smashes the threat to the nation. This time the excitement has given way to weariness in terms of costumes, co-star and cloying emotions.

Perhaps, “Lootera”’s dismal performance at the box office and award functions has pushed Sonakshi to play safe. Ironically, safe was not the word for her when she started in 2010. She broke the existing image of the uber cool Bollywood heroine by bringing the rustic touch back in vogue with “Dabangg”, “Rowdy Rathore” and “Son of Sardar”. She emerged as a heroine with a mind and personality of her own and it reflected in the characters she played.

The media asked uncomfortable questions about her weight but the weight of box office figures quickly changed the discourse. Sonakshi brashly stated nobody asks all the other girls who sport the same svelte frame.

In the last one year she seemed to have lost her pole position in the race as the rules seem to be changing. Heroine-driven films are making good money at the box office. In this scenario, Sonakshi looks a little odd as she still prefers to walk in the shadow of a star and her fascination for remakes of South Indian films refuses to abate. After “Holiday” she has Prabhudheva’s “Action Jackson” opposite Ajay Devgn and then she has “Tevar”, a remake of “Okkadu”, opposite Arjun Kapoor. Doesn’t she feel the weight of sameness on her shoulders?

Sonakshi has her logic. She says she is not keen to do roles which require a lot of skin show and intimate scenes with the male actor. This obviously makes her suitable for the roles of demure semi-urban girls that the rehashes of the southern blockbusters offer. She doesn’t mind a “Rowdy Rathore” or an “R…Rajkumar” even if it is dubbed as socially regressive by the critics. She holds forth her father’s mantra: if you can’t be the best, be different.

“Of course, the box office is important to me but I don’t fret over it. Obviously, last year belonged to Deepika (Padukone) but before that four of my films made 100 crores at the box office. There is a definite surge in films where female actors have substantial roles. It is a welcome change but I will sign a so-called heroine-oriented film only if the script appeals to me. I will not do it just because the female character has a meatier part,” she muses. After a pause, she states, “I think the media is mistaken that in films where the male stars dominate the show, the heroine has nothing to do. Action can never be justified without an emotional track in Hindi films. We have a definite role to play and it requires some effort. Not everybody can do that. We look good together and perhaps that’s why producers like to repeat us and as far as I known we are far from creating any record. This is only our fourth film together.”

The promos of “Holiday” show her punching away and Sonakshi says that the script required her to showcase her sporty side. It seems the look is inspired by Laila Ali and Sonakshi nods. “I was a regular in the school’s volleyball team and you can find me in the gym three times a week. You know I always wanted to sport braids but the kind of characters that I have played hardly provide me the opportunity. Here was my chance. The good thing is Murugadoss asked me to make it look like a professional. He didn’t want me to carry the feminine touch in those scenes. It made it easier for me,” relates Sonakshi, who was given training by Vijender Singh.

Her tenor suggests that she is not keen to go the “Lootera” way anytime soon. “No, I am in the midst of deliberations on something on those lines and will soon come out with an announcement,” she clarifies.

Meanwhile, her fascination for Southern flicks gets deeper. She has signed “Lingaa” opposite Rajinikanth. “It is an honour to start your career in Tamil cinema with Rajinikanth. I have already started shooting for it.” The age gap is obvious and Sonakshi’s knowledge of Rajinikanth’s body of work can be gauged from the fact that when one asked her about her favourite Rajinikanth film, she came up with “Hum” after a long pause. “On the first day I was very nervous but when Rajini sir came he said he is more nervous because he is working with a close friend’s daughter.” She confirms that she is cast opposite the superstar. “The script fully justifies the casting,” she chuckles.



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