Steering clear of euphemisms with a nonchalant ease, characteristic of me, when it comes to Shankar, I would like to shout that Anniyan is plain bad. More so because, nobody else seem to be doing it. Not that I had expected anything out of Anniyan. But, Shankar sure seems to have lost his touch at the B.O. and might never repeat the success of his previous movies.
Making use of a big cliche found largely in movie reviews (that so-and-so movie had everything GOING for it) in an opposite context, Anniyan had nothing going for it except for Vikram and loads of money to be spent. A beaten-to-death case of multiple personality (if this was a spoiler for anyone of you, kindly forgive yours truly and write so to me and I will remove it), an escapist plot (now, I am talking only within Shankar's context), a screenplay characteristic of under-development of each character like in those movies made by S. A. Chandrashekhar and likes.
Shankar had mentioned in his recent interview with Hindu on "how he brings realism in his own way within the commercial format" and I was nodding with acknowledgement. Yes. Though all his movies have esssentially been fantasy movies making ways for all possible commercial outlets, he always adds realism and colloquy which not many can match or even sense. Real characters (the ones with smaller screen presence too) and some hard-hitting intelligent dialogues (I will attribute that to Shankar as much as his writers). So in his issue-based commercial potboilers, Shankar had always been a quite good one and more importantly a very sensible one. Leave aside his "light" movies (Kaadhalan, Jeans; Boys being both here and there, but very very bad nevertheless), which were always unworthy though sometimes having that Shankar-kinda-realism in them.
The way Anniyan begins with the Ambi character, for the conformist he is, realising the faulty way in which the society works and his resultant frustration being protrayed in an amateurish way, one begins to wonder if Shankar has lost the touch. In these scenes, we can see how the character of Ambi is used more for the flat humour (which just doesn't work, btw). Ambi receives a spam letter which talks about how one Mr. Anniyan is gonna slay sinners. And thus we are introduced to Anniyan, the second Vikram. As "Anniyan" bashes a bunch of hooligans (Vikram doing a "Dhill" here just didn't work; was it Vikram who was indulging?) kills the sinners using creative methods (a la Se7en) based on a sadistic Sanskrit literature. We get to see a serious-looking Prakash Raj on the trail of Anniyan along with a glib-tongued Vivek. Add to this Ambi's outrageous efforts to win Sada's heart (which makes Siddharth's bear-all-clothes method pale in comparison on degree of plausibility for winning a girl's heart). And bang, we get the other Vikram as Remo and Vikram with his antics manages to be an effective parody of what he intends to be.
You have to see the movie to know how bad Vikram has performed. Add Prakash Raj, Nedumudi Venu, Nasser etc. to the big list of actors with no impact whatsoever. Sada needs no mention unless if you had ever wondered how her navel looked like (which I found was just like anybody else's :p).
Harris Jeyaraj's soundtrack score is so-so (mind you, not the BGM score). At least, had the Keerthanai been played, as it was on the audio release, it would have been nice. But, it seems Shankar wanted to capture the Thiruvaiyaaru scene as it actually happens.
The sole saviour, of course, is Vivek who with his very scarcely scattered one-liners (Kamal aficionados alert: 2 take-offs on him!), had me in splits for some moments.