Anbarivu

Director: Aswin Raam

Cast: Hip Hop Aadhi, Asha Sarath, Napoleon

I started my review of Hip Hop Aadhi’s previous film Sivakumarin Sabatham with these lines. “The writer, director, producer, music director and star of Sivakumarin Sabatham—Hip Hop Aadhi— is even busier in his film. In true superstar fashion, the novelty of his films doesn’t any longer rely on the script, the genre or the setting. It has come to a point where the effort is in deciding who the hero will save next. Sivakumarin Sabatham takes absolutely no chances with this saviour complex, though. The film starts with Sivakumar saving his bestie from getting beaten up. He then goes on to save his girlfriend from shady selfie takers, his grandfather from humiliation, his family from financial ruin and the pure Kancheepuram silk from extinction.”

Given how his Anbarivu is pretty much the same, I’m tempted to simply find-and-replace certain words with newer issues because that’s what the writers have done with a dozen older scripts. Take ‘Kancheepuram silk’ for instance. In the earlier film, Kancheepuram was where the film was set and it’s natural for the writer to focus on a local issue. But in Anbarivu, we’ve relocated further south to Madurai, so the silk gets thrown aside for it to be replaced with jalikattu and the indigenous breeds found here—the part where he commodifies Tamil identify is thus secured.  

The saviour complex is major here too. Not only does he save his villagers from an uncontrollable bull but he also goes on to save his grandfather from humiliation (again), his parents from loneliness, his village from financial ruin, his village from corporate greed and then his village from an evil politician. How does he find time to keep saving? For one, Hip Hop Aadhi hasn’t directed the film so he used that time to help an extra hamlet or two. What about the rest? He’s able to save the rest because he gets to play a double-role, because “why have one Aadhi when you can have two?”.

What this multiplication facilitates is a little bit of saving the world too when one of them shifts to Canada. The plot repurposes the basic idea of Parent Trap with the main difference being one twin’s lack of cooperation. With feuding parents hailing from feuding communities, it eventually becomes the combined duty of the twins Anbu and Arivu to reunite the parents, their families and by extension two sides of a village. But how they achieve this isn’t merely by the use of brute force or smart thinking. It’s by using the most powerful weapon of all— saintly advice.

So when Anbu or Arivu isn’t romancing their lovers, sightseeing or fighting, they gets several scenes where they’re advising everyone, including their grandfather, mother and father. These lectures cover topics we’d expect most adults to already know but Arivu doesn’t take a chance and unleashes a series that touches upon the “need for equality”, “the importance of being earnest” and “why men should pee with the toilet seat up”.    

Anbarivu, On Disney Hotstar, Maduraises ‘Parent Trap’ With A Generous Dose Of Bull, Film Companion

All this guilt-tripping may have worked in an older film or with a more charismatic star you don’t mind listening to for over two hours and forty minutes. But in Anbarivu, there’s hardly any difference between Anbu or Arivu or the Aadhi from the films he’s done before. Accents come and go and even laboured gags of a Maduraikaaran in Canada offers nothing new. It’s like the only person he cannot save is the film’s viewer, who is anyway confused about what’s more repetitive— Hip Hop Aadhi’s tunes or his films?

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