In Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet, Juliet refers to her love as being as deep as the sea and says that the more she gives, the more she receives. The sea plays a significant role in Annayum Rasoolum. It is symbolic of the bond shared by Anna (Andrea Jeremiah) and Rasool (Fahadh Faasil). Just like a calm sea, their love appears to be quiet on the outside. For people around them, it is just another fling. Their love for each other only grows with time, the depth of which remains unknown to the other and everyone around them. Just like the sea, it becomes deep and unfathomable.
Rasool is a taxi driver and Anna works at a saree shop. Set against the backdrop of Fort Kochi and Vypin, the film revolves around the lives of working class families and their struggles. Rasool's elder brother Hyder (Aashiq Abu) works at a ferry boat and wants to get a better life. He gets a job in Kuwait but is struggling to get his passport made. Rasool's friends, Colin (Soubin Shahir) and Abu (Shine Tom Chacko) have nothing much to do and keep getting into fights every now and then. Anna's younger brother, Kunjumon (Shane Nigam) is a brat and is no different from Rasool's friends. There is frustration and anger. It tells us about the lack of job opportunities in smaller towns and cities, which pushes the youth into petty crimes. The violence in the film is in sharp contrast to their quiet, tender romance.
A fight breaks out between Rasool's friends and Anna's brother. Although Rasool has nothing do with it, he is still being chased by Kunjumon's friends. He hides behind a statue of Mother Mary and a few seconds later, Anna enters and lights a candle. This is the first time Rasool sees Anna. Hidden behind the wall, he keeps looking at her without even blinking an eye. It is love at first sight, indeed. Rasool begins following Anna. Like a stalker, he takes the same ferry everyday that Anna takes to work. He even lands up at her workplace. He does not utter a word: he just looks at her and smiles. In the beginning, Anna looks back at him with resentment but her look softens with time. There is no talking, only stolen glances.
Rasool is naïve and innocent to the point that he is unaware that he is behaving like a stalker and that it is actually wrong to follow someone and touch their belongings in their absence. His child-like innocence and decency is what makes Anna fall for him. He likes her and wants to meet her. He doesn't understand the difference between meeting Anna at her workplace and meeting her elsewhere. His cell phone ringtone is a romantic song and it tells us that Rasool, by nature, is a romantic. When his friends tell him that he should back off because he is a Muslim and she is a Christian, it surprises him. It had never occurred to him that religion could be a barrier. When Anna brings it up and tells him that it won't work, he replies that it isn't his fault that he was born as a Muslim. He tells her that he works for a Hindu man and has had more meals at his Christian friend's house than his own. He is of the opinion that he likes her and she likes him and that's it. He doesn't want to convert to Christianity himself nor does he want Anna to convert to Islam.
In one scene, Anna is singing a hymn in the church. The lyrics of the hymn suggest that love means to endure and accept death. In another scene, Rasool is staring at the sea and a song plays in the background. The lyrics say that Sufis told the world about the wonders of love but never did they warn us that love also meant death. The film raises an important question: if descriptions and explanations of love remain the same in all religions, then why do people seek to draw boundaries and separate lovers in the name of religion?
Since the film is set in the islands of Vypin, the actions take place in both water and land. Rasool is associated with water. Just like water, he goes with the flow wherever he wants to go and nothing can stop him. He has no inhibitions. On the other hand, Anna is like land, absorbed and still. For most parts of the film, she has a straight face and comes across as restrained. When Rasool finally gathers the courage and tells her that he likes her, she remains silent. The next day, she wears a red bindi to work and looks for Rasool. When Rasool doesn't turn up at the ferry, she sends him a blank message. When Rasool asks her whether she likes him or not, she says she is afraid. Unlike Rasool, she is realistic. Being well aware of their religious difference, she asks him whether he wishes to convert because unless one of them does, they will not be able to marry. Although she is aware of the consequences of an inter-faith relationship, she chooses to go into one because her life had been no better and she had considered suicide before meeting Rasool. He becomes her escape.
When they are first separated, he moves back to his village and helps his father at work while Anna spends her time sitting quietly in one corner of her room and looking out of the window. Back in the village, a colleague tells Rasool that if he opens his eyes under water, he will see the face of his lover. Rasool makes an attempt and even the imaginary sight of her makes him happy. Even after a few attempts of separation, Rasool remains hopeful and never gives up but Anna becomes hopeless.
The most popular tragedy of all time remains Romeo and Juliet. When we read a tragedy or watch one, we are aware that it will not end well. It will leave us in tears but we still watch it with the hope of enjoying the little moments before it ends. Perhaps, even the characters, be it Anna-Rasool or Romeo-Juliet, seek to escape and fall in love even though they are aware of the consequences of their actions. It is not the end that matters, but the journey. The journey of of falling in love truly, deeply and madly.