Theatrical release poster
|Produced by||Viswanathan Ravichandran|
|Written by||Sujatha (Dialogue)|
|Music by||Harris Jayaraj|
|Edited by||V. T. Vijayan|
|Distributed by||Oscar Films|
|Running time||181 minutes|
|Budget||263.8 million (US$4.3 million)|
|Box office||450 million (US$7.3 million)|
Anniyan (English: Outsider/Stranger) is a 2005 Indian Tamil vigilante-thriller film scripted and directed by Shankar and produced by V. Ravichandran. The film features Vikram as Ramanujam, a straightforward lawyer who suffers from multiple personality disorder and develops two distinct identities: Remo, a suave fashion model and Anniyan, a grim reaper-themed serial-killer. Sadha plays his love interest Nandini. The film features an ensemble cast that included Vivek, Prakash Raj, Nedumudi Venu and Nassar. The film's soundtrack album and background score were composed by Harris Jayaraj. Ravi Varman and V. Manikandan were in charge of the cinematography. Art direction was done by Sabu Cyril and editing was handled by V. T. Vijayan. Principal photography commenced on 4 March 2004; the filming was completed by March 2005.
The film was released on 17 June 2005 to positive reviews from critics and proceeded to become a commercially successful venture at the box office, grossing 450 million (US$7.3 million) in its lifetime run. The film was dubbed into Hindi as Aparichit and into Telugu as Aparichithudu. The Telugu version was released simultaneously with the original version, while the Hindi version released on 19 May 2006. The film went on to win 5 Film Fans' Association Awards, 6 Tamil Nadu State Film Awards, 8 Filmfare Awards and a National Film Award in the Best Special Effects category.
Ramanujam (simply known as "Ambi"), an orthodox Iyengar, is a straightforward criminal lawyer who expects everyone to follow rules and brings lawbreakers to book. However, his efforts fail as the circumstantial evidence always favour the accused. His efforts to raise civic awareness among the public fail due to their lack of seriousness and pervasive corruption. Ambi is frustrated at his inability to bring about a change. Suppressed over a period of time, his anger manifests itself creating an alter-ego "Anniyan", a violent and deranged grim reaper-themed serial killer who punishes indifference towards social commitment. Anniyan creates a website and sends out postal cards to random people urging them to file complaints against violators. He compiles a database of wrongdoers from his site and executes them in succession. On receiving a card, Ambi lodges the details of the perpetrators and moves on with some hope.
Ambi is secretly in love with his neighbour Nandini, an aspiring carnatic singer, but never expresses his love due to fear of rejection. When his friend Chari, a policeman, helps him open up, he messes his proposal and Nandini rejects him as she finds him ridiculous. A distraught Ambi attempts suicide, almost drowning himself before ultimately changing his mind. Subsequently, he develops another personality of Remo, a ramp walk model who courts Nandini. Smitten by Remo, Nandini reciprocates his advances and eventually falls in love. Nandini's family arranges for her marriage with Remo.
While purchasing a plot of land for her dowry, Nandini undervalues the property to evade stamp duty. Ambi, who accompanies her for registration, decides not to help her. Later, when Nandini and Remo are on a date, Remo transforms into Anniyan and attempts to punish her for corruption. He outsmarts a group of professional martial artists who try to defend her. When he is about to kill her, an appalled Nandini calls out for Ambi. With a need arising for both his personas simultaneously, a confusion sets in and Ambi collapses. Nandhini takes Ambi to NIMHANS where he is diagnosed with multiple personality disorder. Through recovered-memory therapy, the psychiatrist uncovers his past to find that he had witnessed the tragic death of his 8-year-old sister Vidya due to civic apathy. The incident left deep scars in his mind and Ambi cites this as the reason for his lofty ideals. It is also discovered that while Anniyan and Remo are aware of Ambi as a separate person, Ambi is completely oblivious to such personalities within him. The psychiatrist declares that Remo will cease to exist if Nandini accepts Ambi's love and Anniyan would cease to exist only if the people reform. Nandini accepts Ambi, and Remo disappears.
Meanwhile, DCP Prabhakar investigates the murders, finds clues left behind by Anniyan and deciphers that they are punishments handed out to the victims. One of the victims Chockalingam, an errant catering contractor with the Railways, was Prabhakar's brother. Following a wide publicity stunt, Anniyan appears amidst the public and the press at the Nehru Stadium, donning a face-paint to conceal his identity. Admitting to the murders, he explains the rationale behind them and appeals that only when every Indian is responsible and sincere will the country prosper on par with developed nations. His methods draw both praise and criticism. Prabhakar tries to catch Anniyan, but he escapes.
Prabhakar digitally removes the face-paint from the recorded footage unmasking Anniyan and arrests Ambi. During the interrogation, Ambi's personality constantly changes between Ambi and Anniyan, resulting in ambiguity. Using a CCTV, Chari records the interrogation and uses it as evidence of Ambi's condition during his murder trial. Ambi is sentenced to psychotherapy and would be released when cured.
When Ambi is released after two years, his puritan adherence to protocol has diminished. He marries Nandini and while travelling on a train for their honeymoon, he notices a man (originally responsible for his sister's death years ago) drinking amidst fellow passengers. Suffering a relapse, he transforms into Anniyan and throws the man off the train, killing him. However, he hides it from Nandini, indicating that he has successfully blended Anniyan into himself instead of eradicating him.
- Vikram as Ramanujam alias Ambi / Remo / Anniyan
- Sadha as Nandini, Ambi's love interest
- Vivek as Chari, Ambi's close friend
- Prakash Raj as DCP Prabhakar
- Nedumudi Venu as Parthasarathy, Ambi's father
- Nassar as the psychiatrist
- Cochin Haneefa as the car owner
- Kalabhavan Mani as the house owner
- Charle as a wastrel
- Shanmugarajan as Chockalingam, the railway contract caterer
- Saurabh Shukla as the brake cable company owner
- Yana Gupta (special appearance in the song "Kaadhal Yaanai")
- Manobala as the TTR
- Shanthi Williams as Susheela, Ambi's mother
- Neelu as Sabha manager
- Sriranjini as Nandhini's mother
- Vatsala Rajagopal as Ambi's grandma
- Mohan Vaidhya as Nandhini's father
- Hari Prashanth as young Ambi
- Divya Nagesh as Vidya, Ambi's sister
In early 2001, director Shankar had conceived a science fiction film titled Robot casting Kamal Haasan and Preity Zinta in the lead roles. But the production was cancelled due to various reasons: Haasan's unavailability of dates, creative differences with the actor and lack of funding for the project. Shankar moved on and made a coming of age film, Boys. Following the release of Boys in August 2003, Shankar began work on his next directorial venture titled Anniyan. It was hence mistaken to be Shankar's pet project Robot revived with a new title but was later proved untrue. The film deals with a person suffering with dissociative identity disorder, commonly known as "multiple personality disorder" (MPD) or "split personality syndrome". Coincidentally, another film titled Chandramukhi (2005) which featured Rajinikanth in the lead role and was released a couple months before Anniyan did, was also based on split personality. Describing the film as his 'dream project', Shankar revealed that it would be a fantasy thriller.
In an interview to The Hindu, Shankar disclosed, "I have travelled to many parts of the globe, especially the developed countries, and I am fascinated by the rapid strides that they have made in all fields. But back home, I am upset to see the neglect, poverty and the laid back approach of our youngsters. I often think that we are a lazy country. [...] My story is about a person who tries to bring (about) a change within our society. The issue that I am trying to solve is inherent weakness within our society and some motivation to move forward like other nations."
Cast and crew
By November 2003, it was confirmed that Vikram would be playing the lead role. On casting Vikram, Shankar remarked that he was the "life and soul of Anniyan". In December 2003, Trisha was speculated to play the female lead. Reportedly, Aishwarya Rai was approached to play the heroine. When she was too busy to accept, Shankar offered the role to Sadha, who was shooting for a Kannada film in Bangkok. Vivek, Prakash Raj and Nedumudi Venu play pivotal roles. Charle, Malayalam actors Kalabhavan Mani and V. M. C. Haneefa make guest appearances.
Child actor Hari Prashanth alias Viraj played the younger Vikram. When he came to the dubbing studio to voice his lines, he was accompanied by his father, singer-dubbing artiste S. N. Surendar. On Shankar's insistence, Surendar too lent his voice, dubbing for Nedumudi Venu. Actress Malavika Avinash was approached to play Vikram's mother; she rejected the offer stating "I am too young to do a screen mom and too old to be a heroine!" Mohan Vaidhya, a carnatic vocalist and part-time actor, played a supporting role of Sadha's father.
Manikandan, who had earlier worked with Shankar when he shot the music video for the song "Secret of Success" in Boys, was recruited to handle the camera. In October 2004, Manikandan walked out of the project citing date issues as the film went through multiple delays. Shankar replaced him with Ravi Varman who shot the remaining scenes. The scenes were edited by V. T. Vijayan and the film had dialogue written by writer Sujatha Rangarajan. While Sabu Cyril was the art director, the action sequences were choreographed by Peter Hein. Raju Sundaram, Kalyan and Ahmed Khan choreographed the dance sequences. The film was produced by Ravichandran Viswanathan (known as V. Ravichandran) under his 'Oscar Films'. Vikram's look in the film was created by make-up artiste Banu.
The film was officially launched on 4 March 2004 with a pooja at AVM Studios. As a sneak-peek, life sized promotional stills decorated the studio showing Vikram in three get-ups: a Voodoo hunter, a pious `sami', and a bubbling youth. It was therefore believed that Vikram would be playing a triple role. The film's tagline read 'He who comes from hell is not afraid of hot ashes.' The production began shortly afterwards in April 2004 and took 14 months to complete. Ironically, during the launch, Shankar had expressed hope of completing the film in six months and releasing the film for Diwali 2004. The film was shot in Amsterdam, Malaysia, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Tenkasi, Thanjavur, Villupuram and Chennai.
Vikram grew long hair for his look and to maintain the continuity, he allotted 18 months and 190 days of his call sheet without accepting other offers. He did not want to reveal his look until the film was ready and hence avoided the media even after winning the National Film Award for Best Actor for the year 2003. In the pre-climax scene, when Vikram's character is held in custody and enquired by Prakash Raj's character, he keeps switching between the characters Ambi and Anniyan. Dubbed the "chameleon act" in the media, Vikram claims to have completed the sequence in a single take. The scene where Anniyan addresses the public was shot at a stadium in Hyderabad. For another scene, a chemical tube which shows how hot a person is, was brought from Malaysia.
In a fight sequence, Anniyan encounters about a hundred martial artists inside the fictional International Martial Arts School, Vodao. The stunt scene was shot at the JJ Indoor Stadium in Chennai over a period of 25 days. Peter Hein, the stunt choreographer, is a native of Vietnam. 127 professionally trained fighters were brought in from Vietnam for the shoot. During the rehearsals, the rope to which the stuntmen were tied and hung upside down, gave in. About a dozen stuntmen crashed down from the balcony injuring themselves badly. The action sequence was shot using 122 cameras for employing the time slice technique, seen earlier in Hollywood films like The Matrix (1999), to achieve the frozen-time effect. The special effects were provided by Big Freeze, London. Shankar had earlier toyed with the idea of time-slice and tried it while filming the song "Ale Ale" in his Boys. But instead of the usual 180° rotation, Anniyan had 270° rotation, a novelty.
The song "O Sukumari", picturised on the lead pair, was filmed in a large tulip garden in Keukenhof near Amsterdam, Netherlands. The song sequence was shot in May 2004 during the annual Netherlands International Flower Show called 'Floriade'. As part of their role, both Vikram and Vivek who appear in the song were required to wear a panjakkacham and angavastram leaving most of their upper body exposed to the cold. The team had initially hoped to film at two locations in Netherlands: Keukenhof and Vijfhuizen, but were denied permission by authorities as a previous film crew had damaged the habitat.
"Iyengaru Veetu", a semi-classical song, starts off with a Tyagaraja Aradhana. For filming the song sequence, a scene of Thyagaraja Utsavam was recreated. The Utsavam is an annual musical event held in Thiruvaiyaru in which exponents of carnatic music participate. The scene was conceived by violin maestro Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan, a regular participant at the actual event. Realistic sets were erected and leading carnatic vocalists Sudha Ragunathan, Sirkazhi G. Sivachidambaram, O. S. Arun, P. Unni Krishnan and instrumentalists such as violinist A. Kanyakumari and mridangam exponent Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman were recruited to add a touch of authenticity. The sequence was much talked about and was well appreciated. The actual song which follows later was picturised on a set erected at AVM Studios made to look like an old traditional Iyengar home in Thanjavur.
In December 2004, a ten day shoot was held in Mumbai for the item number "Kadhal Yaanai", featuring a top model whose identity was kept a secret as a suspense to kindle curiosity. It was later revealed to be model turned actress Yana Gupta. The song was filmed in a set erected in a studio to resemble a famous night-spot in London. The song "Kannum Kannum Nokia" was filmed in Malaysia at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Petronas Towers. The shoot in the airport took place during the night. Ravi Varman, the cameraman, said in an interview that the song was shot like a commercial. The song was also filmed at the Nokia Headquarters in Espoo, Finland.
"Andangkaaka", a folk number rendered by Jassie Gift, was shot in a village near Sengottai. For filming the song, a huge set was erected to resemble a village. The sets were visualised and created by Sabu Cyril, the film's production designer. Sabu Cyril and Shankar adopted a village near Tenkasi and painted all the houses, roads, rocks and even a bridge in varied colours. They then hired hundreds of lorries and old model ambassador cars and painted faces on them. Hundreds of dancers joined the lead pair and the total cost of the song worked out to 1 crore. In all, 350 houses were painted.
During the narrative, Ambi is referred to a website,
www.anniyan.com. The website takes visitors through the punishments that await sinners in hell. For designing the website, Shankar wanted to recreate hell and approached Tata Elxsi's Visual Computing Labs (VCL). Tata Elxsi has worked in Hollywood films like Spider-Man 3, Ghost Rider, Into the Blue etc. The team at VCL conceptualised and created a 'hell' in 3d animation. The punishments were taken from ancient scriptures. They also designed a Grim Reaper astride his bull who guides visitors through hell. Pankaj Khanpur, creative director of VCL said, "We tried to stay true to the Scriptures, while creating imagery that wasn’t too gory. It was an interesting project since we had to visualise it all without any reference point." The animation was done in a span of three months.
VCL also did the CGI for a cosmic zoom scene where the camera zooms from beyond the clouds to the Chennai city. Aerial views and paintings of the city were stitched together along with computer generated images (CGI) of clouds to create the long, one-piece camera zoom. The scene where Anniyan addresses a packed audience in Nehru Stadium was filmed with the space empty. The crowd was created through visual effects using crowd multiplication methods. L. I. Kannan, who would later work with Vikram as director in Karikalan which was stalled, worked on the special effects.
By the time the production was nearing completion, the trade sources had estimated the film to cost around 12-15 crores; but, as it happens in films directed by Shankar, the budget overshot. Made at a cost of 26.38 crores, Anniyan was touted as the most expensive South Indian film to be ever made during the time of its release. It was also the first Tamil film and the first in South India to get institutional finance, a sum of 9.5 crores from IDBI. With the amount of hype the film generated in the media, theatres in Tamil Nadu eagerly came forward and offered hefty prices as Minimum Guarantee (MG). Funds amounting to 12 crores were gathered as MG and advance. Moreover, the producer had insured the film for 29.5 crores prior to its release. The rights for Aparichithudu, the Telugu-dubbed version, was bought by a producer for an all-time record price. Meanwhile, the film was sold in Kerala for 1.3 crores, which was again a record for a Tamil film there. The US rights was bagged by the distribution house Bharat Creations. With the theatrical rights and pre-release booking, the trade circuit predicted that the film would recover its cost within ten days of its release.
The methods of punishment meted out to the sinners by Anniyan in the film is based on Garuda Purana, a Vaishnavite purana which speaks of life after death and punishments for wrongdoers. Shankar pointed out that he "worked tirelessly day and night and intense research was done with the help of a professor in department of Vaishnavism in Madras University." For filming scenes based on the punishments, buffaloes and snakes were transported in hundreds exclusively from Vellore and was shot for about three days. Some punishments featured in the film were:
- Andhakoopam – The car owner who refused to help the accident victim is killed when Anniyan drives a herd of buffaloes into stampeding him;
- Kumbipakam – The food contractor is killed when Anniyan boils him alive in an oil pot;
- Krimibhojanam – The owner of the brake cable company is punished when Anniyan dumps leeches onto his body which suck out his blood.
Following the release of the trailer on 7 May 2005, the film was believed to be inspired Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Upon the film release, it was found to be heavily inspired by the 1998 novel Tell Me Your Dreams by Sidney Sheldon.
The film's soundtrack album and background score were composed by Harris Jayaraj. The lyrics for the songs were written by Vairamuthu, Na. Muthukumar and Kabilan. The album marked Shankar's first collaboration with Harris Jayaraj; all his previous directorial ventures had A. R. Rahman composing the music. The album was released on 26 April 2005. Harris Jayaraj commenced the film's re-recording in April 2005 and took more than a month to complete, delaying the film's release.
The film cleared the censors without any cuts and was rated "U" (Universal) by the Central Board of Film Certification. While Shankar had hoped to release the film on Diwali 2004, there were numerous production delays which postponed the release date through early 2005. While production was completed in March 2005, the re-recording which began in April took more time than anticipated lasting nearly 45 days with Harris Jayaraj being blamed for further delays. After the film missed a few dates such as 20 May and 27, the film was finally scheduled for 10 June. But, Shankar released it a week later on 17 June as he considered 8 as his lucky number (1+7 yielding 8).
The film was dubbed into other South Indian languages and was released simultaneously in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. Besides, the film was also released in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Germany, Malaysia and Singapore. While the film was released with 404 prints in Tamil and Telugu alone, it was distributed in Kerala by Thameen. Later, the film was also dubbed and released into French by Paramount Pictures. In May 2006, the film was further dubbed and released in Hindi as Aparichit: The Stranger.
The film received mostly positive reviews from critics. Malathi Rangarajan of The Hindu said that the movie works as it melds an interesting screen line with racy action. She also noted that the story resembled Shankar's Indian (1996) a lot while also bearing semblance to his Gentleman (1993). She remarked that the story and screenplay deserved to be lauded for its "ingenious sparks in narration" but problems arose with respect to its plausibility. She then declared, " [...] some of the best camera shots, stunts and locations on a mind-boggling scale have been showcased. If you enjoy magnificence in cinema you will like this Anniyan." Krishnakumar wrote for Rediff that learning from the debacle of Boys, the director went back to his strength by taking a social theme, spicing it up and serving the perfect commercial fare. He added that in trying to explain multiple personality disorder in the simplest of terms, the director has only succeeded to a certain extent as a majority of viewers who are not that well informed might not even comprehend what is being said.
Labelling the film as a "must see", a reviewer at Sify acclaimed that the film holds the viewers riveted with its racy narration, a relevant message backed with technical wizardry, never-seen before colourful song picturisation and particularly the performance of Vikram. Yet, he criticised that the film was too lengthy and the story too thin on logic. The editorial board at IndiaGlitz called the film 'breathtaking' and wrote, "Anniyan in one word is brilliant. A film that is big in conception, immaculate in execution and totally stunning in its entirety. Anniyan is almost a surreal and phantasmagoric dream woven on an ambitiously expanded canvas that has never before seen on Indian films. Its technical sorcery (yes, that's the word) just takes your breath away." S. Srinivasan of Nowrunning.com awarded the film 3 out of 5 stars and said that though was film was 'great' on most aspects, the only downer was that the story centered on erasing corruption in the society and multiple personality disorcer, both of which have been exploited extensively in Tamil films. He added that the film, which was fast paced, action packed and well packaged, might fail to impress but it does entertain and is a must watch. Ramaa of Behindwoods summarised by saying that the film is "a good entertainer and worth the money."
Reviewing Aparichithudu, the Telugu version of the film, The Hindu said that the movie was watchable. Regarding the Hindi version of the film, Raja Sen of Rediff lambasted the pathetic dubbing though saying that it was refreshing and watchable, despite boasting of enough masala to make the viewers sneeze. Rating the film 2.5 out of 5 stars, he declared, "Overall, Aparichit is a slickly made, well-paced actioner that works quite well, despite the dub. The film is engaging and crisply scripted, and the action is never too excessive, lightened by jokes and general tomfoolery that never offensively interrupts the actual plot."
With regards individual performances, Vikram's was unanimously lapped up by the critics. Malathi Rangarajan said, "It is another action-backed role that offers ample scope for Vikram, and the veteran keeps you spellbound throughout." Krishnakumar considered that though Vikram plays three distinct characters, Ambi was by far the best. He felt that the other two characterisation was over-the-top and was so only to establish a difference between the three. Sify said that the beauty of Anniyan lies in Vikram’s characters and that Anniyan truly belonged to vikram, without whom the film was unthinkable. It added, "He is superb and does the roles with conviction, suaveness and chill into the three characters of Ambi, Remo and Anniyan that he portrays. It is a role that could have been reduced to a caricature by a lesser actor." IndiaGlitz said that it was an out and out Vikram film and as "Ambi, as Remo and as Anniyan, this amazing actor is just that --- amazing.". The Hindu remarked that Vikram stole the show while Raja Sen noted that if not for him, the film would have been a 'pretty ordinary actioner'. Sen further added, "The actor rightly overplays all three characters to near-perfection [...] and does magnificently, a Jim Carrey-esque chameleonic turn worth applauding.
While the film's technical expertise was universally acclaimed, their suitability in the film was questioned. Malathi Rangarajan wrote, "Sujatha's dialogue is an asset. Sabu Cyril's art contributes immensely to the film's richness. And capturing the opulence and intricacies are the cameras of S. Ravivarman and V. Manikandan. Peter Haynes' stunt choreography is a draw." Krishnakumar noted that Cyril's sets were grandiose and extravagant while Manikandan's camerawork was brilliant. Yet, he found that the stunts, though well choreographed, would have looked more in place in a supernatural film. S. Srinivasan felt that the film was technically brilliant and on par with Hollywood. Balaji Balasubramaniam panned the stunts and said they were disappointing and that the fight with martical arts students were 'plain ridiculous' and out of place. The Hindu said that the extravagant sets and choreography of action scenes are extraordinary.
In a seminar on revisiting psychiatric disorders which centered around the films Chandramukhi and Anniyan, a psychiatrist noted that there were many logical faults.
In its opening weekend, Anniyan grossed 5.024 million (US$81,000) in Chennai alone, a box-office record. In the first week at Chennai, it grossed over 10 million (US$160,000), with 2.7 million (US$44,000) from Sathyam Cinemas alone in the first week. It earned a nett of 4.1 million (US$66,000) in the first week at Coimbatore. After completing a 50-day run at Sathyam, it had "recorded the highest 50 days collection for a Tamil film from a single screen in the world". According to distributor and owner of Abhirami Mega Mall, Abirami Ramanathan, the film grossed 450 million (US$7.3 million) in its lifetime run.
The film received numerous awards and nominations. Although Vikram had hoped that the film would get him his second National Award, the film earned one only for its special effects. It also won 8 out of the total 15 awards awarded by the Filmfare for the best of Tamil cinema. In a conversation with athlete Shiny Wilson, actor Jayaram remarked, "Anniyan was a runaway hit in Kerala. But if a Malayalam star had tried out an Anniyan-kind of role with a weird hairdo, it would have been a disaster!"
|National Film Awards||53rd National Film Awards||Best Special Effects||Tata Elxsi||Won|
|Filmfare Awards South||53rd Filmfare Awards South||Best Film||Anniyan||Won|
|Best Art Director||Sabu Cyril||Won|
|Best Music Director||Harris Jayaraj||Won|
|Best Action Director||Peter Hein||Won|
|Best Cinematographer||Ravi Varman, V. Manikandan||Won|
|Tamil Nadu State Film Awards||Tamil Nadu State Film Award – 2005||Best Film||Anniyan||Won
|Best Villain||Prakash Raj||Won|
|Best Music Director||Harris Jayaraj||Won
(shared with Ghajini)
|Best Male Dubbing Artist||S. N. Surendar||Won|
|Film Fans' Association Award||55th Annual Film Fans' Association Award
Cine bests of 2005
|Best Music Director||Harris Jayaraj||Won|
|Best Cinematographer||Ravi Varman||Won|
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- Official website
- Anniyan at the Internet Movie Database
- Anniyan at Bollywood Hungama
- Anniyan at Rotten Tomatoes