Anjana is a welcome addition to the small queue of women directors in Tamil cinema. While most female filmmakers – TP Rajalakshmi, Bhanumathi, Suhasini, Revathy and more recently Nandini mainly stuck to homely themes, strong women characters, everyday issues and their logical end, Anjana has taken a subject that has predominantly been a male director’s forte. Well done for that to begin with.
To get into the film without positive bias, the film is interesting to say the most.
The story goes from poverty, suicide, orphaned children to prostitution, drugs and even rape and kidnap. A simple story of two orphaned urban poor children being brought up by their friends and neighbours going through various ups and downs in their lives. Wall painters, mechanic shop owners, slum dwellers, p!mps, drug peddlers, (female) dons are all real flesh and blood characters more real than we notice in our everyday lives.
The story is a common one narrated in no uncommon way. A linear narration unfolding events that hardly come as a surprise. The plot takes too long to open up; there are one too many bad-guys (which I hope is deliberate) and the story does not culminate anywhere.
On the positive side, I particularly like the way the female characters in the film are treated. The role of Revathi, played rather naturally by Nithya Menen, is so beautifully written, given as much importance as the male protagonists. She is strong, she asks the right questions, does the right things and dares to do it all on her own. Even all the scenes where a strange man develops s3xual interest in Revathi, the scenes are not crass and the dialogues do not make you cringe. The impact of the scenes is severe but the scenes themselves are not gross.
The role of Viji, that Bindhu Madhavi plays so charmingly, is also beautifully written. Unlike most characters of prostitutes (I’m sorry I do not know the politically correct name for them) in Tamil cinema, this woman is neither a vamp nor a self-pitying, going-to-die-to-save-the-hero doll. She is full of emotions, falls in love, is seen as intelligent and endearing. She is also seen as very successful in her career, well it is not my call to judge whether that is a good thing or not.
In all, Veppam is a decent film you can watch once and forget about. The director, however, shows promise and makes me think better films will come along from her.