Film Review: Anjaana Anjaani

Directed by: Siddharth Anand

Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, and Zayed Khan

All pictures courtesy of : http://www.anjaanaanjaaniblogs.erosentertainment.com

What a difference a week makes – this time last week, I was eagerly looking forward to the release of Anjaana Anjaani and had made plans accordingly – go home after work, have some dinner and then catch the evening show to round off the working week. But AA had other plans and had its release pushed forward a week (which meant I got to see The Town instead which was very good and worth a watch!) So, fast forward to a week later and London is being battered by grey and wet autumn weather, I’m having a bad day at work and then at the cinema, I am sandwiched in between a young couple who talk throughout the whole film and a couple with a young child who asks pertinent questions at key moments. After exhausting my supply of techniques to try and shush them (including sighing, glaring, slamming my bag down and lots of huffing), I finally give up and settle down to watch the main attraction, not pleased by these bad omens.

On paper, Anjaana Anjaani is a red hot proposition –  the film has Ranbir Kapoor, still extremely popular on the back of this year’s hit Raajneeti, and Priyanka Chopra, an actress who is growing with each film and very fanciable too (ahem) and Siddharth Anand, who directed Bachna Ae Haseeno which was at the end of the day, a rather watchable film. So would all these factors come together and produce something special of their own? Not quite…

Anjanna Anjaani is the story of Akash (Kapoor) and Kiara (Chopra), two people who try to commit suicide at the same time and both fail. As their paths continue to cross, they make a pact to kill themselves on the 31st December and in the run up, will do everything they always wanted to. Of course, things don’t run smoothly and the two strangers find themselves more entangled than either had hoped for…

Anjaana Anjaani has great potential – there are many strands and directions that the film could take and indeed, sometimes does. There is a bleak and very dark streak running through the film which is the backbone of AA and gives the film a base to work upon. Unfortunately, the film suffers from an identity crisis where it cannot decide whether it is a rom-com or a dark drama. The first twenty minutes in particular are rather unsettling as the film keeps changing gear before finally deciding on what it is and starting to gain some momentum. In fact, there is a good build up to the interval and post interval, the film really hits its stride, only to falter when it gets scared of doing something different and rushing straight back into familiar territory. The ending, though a feel good one, is done by numbers and is a real shame as it doesn’t sit comfortably with the rest of the film.

Technically, the film is amazing – there is some wonderful cinematography with lots of medium close ups and grainy shots that give the film a “Hollywood” look. There are also some impressive set pieces such as the stranded in water sequence and the road trip which work very well (and these were my favourite parts of the film). In fact, when the script, the actors and the other elements come together, AA is a very watchable and compelling film. I liked how we learn about Kiara as the film progresses and there is scope to explore the character which the film does every now and then – note when Kiara embarks on a one night stand, cuts her hair herself and tells Kunal she also cheated on him. It is real and well performed. But then we learn Kiara didn’t go through with the act and worse still, goes back to Kunal despite the fact he had an affair, the film not only seizes the moral high ground but also takes two steps back in its portrayal of a modern educated woman and tests the faith of the audience in the film. Another instance sees  the doctor in the hospital launching a scathing commentary on Kiara’s suicide, saying Kiara’s motive seems inconsequential and compares it to a cancer victim who wants to live but won’t and has no choice. Whilst the doctor mirrors what more the more cynical viewer may be feeling (and as a consequence, adds some texture to the film’s glossy veneer) this strand which could have been quite interesting to peruse, is quietly shushed up and Kiara makes a miraculous recovery despite drinking a bottle of bleach, and before we know it, the whole thing is forgotten.

Styling wise, AA scores big time. Priyanka is styled by Manish Malhotra and it shows with sexy hot pants and boots which Priyanka sports with aplomb. I also liked the jeans tucked into boots – leather jacket uniform that is every urbanite’s fall back uniform (well, I know I can rely on the male equivalent!) I thought her evening dresses were perfunctory and her obligatory shaadi ka jodha was given a fun twist, nicely dressed down with a denim jacket and trainers. Ranbir, styled by Mamta Anand,  looks fantastic as a yuppie, with lots of preppie sweaters, prints and blocks of colour all co-ordinated. I also liked his boots and jeans combo and sleeveless body warmer teamed with hoodie. It has to be said the styling follows the pattern of the film very closely, veering between high fashion and commercial with confidence so that even if AA can’t find its way, the styling certainly does.

Performance wise, Ranbir and Priyanka power the film along with a healthy dose of star power and talent, pushing the film up from average to a hot mess. Both have a fresh and fiery chemistry and push some scenes well beyond their limits, infusing them with vulnerability and sex appeal at the same time. Ranbir is a solid leading man, giving his all to the film and once again, showing a very commendable range of versatility – from comedy tracks to emotional to menacing, Ranbir can do each and every facet with conviction. He is also a good dancer and manages to make some of the more ridiculous lines and tracks of the film believable and even likeable, which is not to be sniffed at. I was horrified that I found Priyanka irritating at times in the first half as she is one of my favourite actresses but I blame the script entirely for this. Priyanka also shows a range from quirky to psychotic to energetic and also carries the film on her slender shoulders with apparent ease. I felt that AA self indulgently itself feels it is stretching the two actors but if anything, it is merely getting the two warmed up to show off what they can really do. Had this been a dark film with a black sense of humour,  I have no doubt that Ranbir and Priyanka would have risen to the challenge and pushed this film into another league entirely. But as it stands, the two go beyond the call of duty and help the viewer keep faith in the film.  Zayed Khan also impresses in his cameo as before Blue, I couldn’t stand to watch him but he seems to be carefully reconstructing a change of gear in his career and a film like this does that no harm.

Anjaana Anjaani felt like the kind of film Yashraj films would have made in their annus horriblus – there is that desire to try and please all sections of the audience and ending up pleasing no one. In the short term, AA is coming on the back of the biggest hit of the year, Dabaang which is the antithesis to this kind of film and that may harm its prospects. But in the long term, I don’t think this film has that repeat value or that quality to be revisited again and again. It isn’t exactly a one time watch either but even in a year’s time, I feel Ranbir and Priyanka will individually make films that will zoom past this one.

If you are a fan of Ranbir and Priyanka, then Anjaana Anjaani is a must watch. As a fan of both, I enjoyed seeing them on screen together and believe they make an excellent screen couple. With a powerful script, more scope to perform and perhaps more stronger direction, they will be able to make a truly fantastic film. Sadly, this is not that film. If you are not a fan, I would say if you have the chance to see this film, do go but it’s not one to go out of your way to see – catching it on DVD or television maybe a better option.

Anjaana Anjaani is frustrating in the sense that it is not a total waste but at the same time, not the quality film it could have been. For some, maybe this film will hit the mark – but Anjaana Anjaani was a disappointment for me, especially as I was rooting for the film too  – what a difference a week makes…

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