Annadurai movie review: Vijay Antony is the only saving grace in this predictable potboiler

Music director-turned-actor Vijay Antony has been having a golden run in Tamil commercial cinema. His films, using a formula of family sentiments and laced with action, have proven to be successful in Kollywood and even to a certain extent in Tollywood, where his dubbed films have worked.

Vijay Antony films have what trade calls ‘title value’ and this extends to tier II towns and rural areas as well. His latest release is titled Annadurai, and has a certain recall value. Annadurai was one of the DMK’s founding fathers and the first chief minister from a Dravidian party in Tamil Nadu. But there is nothing biographical or political about the film, which is another template mass entertainer from the star.

Vijay Antony in Annadurai

Vijay Antony in Annadurai

The story is as old as the hills, about identical twins with contrasting characters living in a small town. Annadurai (Vijay Antony) a kind-hearted guy, becomes an alcoholic after his girlfriend dies in an accident. Thambidurai is a PT master in a school, and is all set for an arranged marriage with a local girl (Diana Champika). Annadurai’s alcoholism lands him in jail, after he’s accused of having killed a barman accidentally in a brawl. After serving seven years in prison, Annadurai emerges to find that his brother — the soft-spoken Thambidurai — has now become a goon who rules the town. Meanwhile, the bad guys — led by a loan shark, a local chief and an MLA — frame Thambidurai in a nefarious crime. Will Annadurai be able to save his brother? This forms the rest of this predictable potboiler.

Writer and director G Srinivasan has helped himself to Tamil cinema’s vast library of old, formulaic redemption stories from the 1980s and ’90s. The idea is that whenever a new mass hero emerges, he dips into old film plots that have worked for earlier stars. Every modern hero in Tamil films eyeing the rural B and C markets feels this formula will work for them at the box office.

To gain an idea of just how formulaic this film is (if you didn’t get a sense of it already), here’s a scene: A drunken Annadurai rescues a girl from gang rape. Later, he admonishes her, saying she should not complain to the police as the world will not understand, and that she shouldn’t go out at night without her parents! (Who needs Kirron Kher really?) The girl later helps him when Annadurai wishes to save his brother. There is also a liberal helping of one of the oldest formulas in Tamil cinema — “Amma Pasam” (loosely translated to mean ‘mother sentiment’) — which has been used to make the character more heroic. The villains are all one-tone black charcaters.

Annadurai may be somewhat entertaining due to Vijay Antony — but he is the only saving grace in this familiar family sob story.