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By: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM
Monday, May 22, 2006
Certain directors belong to an altogether different league. You may like their films. You may hate their films. But you can never ignore their films. Acclaimed director Shankar belongs to this club. That's one of the reasons why you await his new outing Aparichit - The Stranger with bated breath.
Aparichit - The Stranger is the dubbed Hindi version of the Tamil blockbuster Anniyan and you expect the Hindi version to repeat history as well. Like all Shankar films, Aparichit - The Stranger bears a grandiose look, with special effects and technical wizardry blowing your mind away.
But the problem with Aparichit - The Stranger is that moviegoers in Bollywood have moved past themes that depict a common man's battle against the dishonest, corrupt lot. In fact, it wouldn't be wrong to state that the film bears an uncanny resemblance to Shankar's own Nayak [Anil Kapoor, Rani Mukerji].
The protagonist in both Nayak and Aparichit - The Stranger wants a change, to do away with the corrupt and corruption. The difference lies in the path that both adopt to fulfill/achieve their goals/desires.
Aparichit - The Stranger is the story of Ramanujam alias Ambi [Vikram], called as Rules Ramanujam as he goes by the rule book. A lawyer by profession, he reacts to people who break the rules like disobeying traffic rules, not helping people in distress, eve-teasing in transport buses, spitting on roads, not providing standard meals in trains and so on...
His good intentions and proper approach do not take him anywhere. He is a stickler for rules and that does not always work. His father Parthasarathy [Nedumudi Venu] keeps advising him that he cannot change the world single-handedly. He gets shattered when he realizes that his childhood friend and now a medical student Nandhini [Sada] refuses his love.
He comes across a website aparichit.com which follows the Garudapuranam, the Hindu folklore which is similar to the Christian judgment which reveals that those who commit misdeeds will be punished in hell according to the degree of their deeds. And Ambi takes the avatar of Aparichit. He kick-starts a process through which he starts punishing the wicked people on earth. In the meantime, there is another character Remo, a ravishing supermodel, who tries to cajole Nandhini and she falls head over heels in love with him. Remo is none other than Ambi.
One day, on seeing Nandhini cheating the income tax people, Ambi transforms to Aparichit and attempts to kill her. Realizing that something is wrong with Ambi, Nandhini takes him to a psychiatrist [Nasser], who discovers that Ambi suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder [MPD]. In a split second, Ambi transforms into Aparichit and then to Remo much to the surprise of the doctors and Nandhini.
Amidst all this drama, an untiring policeman Prabhakar [Prakash Raj] gets down to track all the killings and the mystery behind them. Whether the police manage to nail Ambi forms the climax.
Like Shankar's previous films, the one thing that deserves distinction marks in Aparichit - The Stranger is the stunning look. Every frame has been worked upon in detail and the result is awe-inspiring. But, as pointed out at the outset, the writing has its limitations. The director seems to get carried away which results in some portions looking unbelievable.
The film abounds in special effects and some of them are at par with international standards. Even the stunts [Peter Hein] easily rival those in Hollywood. On the flip side, the dubbing could've been better. Even the music [Harris Jayaraj] isn't the type that would compel you to buy its audio CD.
Vikram is tremendous in a role that suits him like a glove. Sada makes her presence felt. Nedumudi Venu is efficient. Nasser, Vivek and Prakash Raj enact their parts convincingly. Yana Gupta sizzles in the dance number.
On the whole, Aparichit - The Stranger has worked big time in South, but you can't expect similar results in its dubbed Hindi version.