19 Sep, 2014 1 hr 51 mins U
Vitharth, Vidiyal Raju, Harthika Shetty
Synopsis
Instead of rushing forward, the film often feels like it is ambling along
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  • Critic's Review
  • Times of India
Synopsis: Aamir comes to Chennai with great hope but he becomes a pawn in the hands of a mysterious man who kidnaps his family and forces him to do what he wants...

Movie Review: Aal opens with Aamir chasing some guys who seem to have stolen his briefcase. This in medias res opening gets our interest immediately. We get the beginning of his story — which happened 14 days. Aamir, a college professor in Sikkim, befriends Rizwan, a student who is targeted by other students because he is a Muslim, and makes him stay in his own place. We get to know about Aamir's family and his Hindu lover Meenakshi. However, their love affair comes out in the open and that is why Aamir is in Chennai. However, upon his arrival at the airport, he is met by mysterious helmet-wearing men who give a phone and order him to speak. A mysterious man tells him that he has kidnapped his family, who he will let live, if Aamir does the tasks he sets him. Having no other alternative, Aamir accepts this order, which leads him into a situation from where there is no backing out. Can Aamir, who has become a puppet in the hands of a shady operator, find courage within to shape his own destiny?

In the title credits of Aal , we are told that the film is based on the Hindi film Aamir . But it actually is a remake of the Bollywood film with a bit of padding — which is what the entire Sikkim portion is. It is understandable that director Aanand Krishna wants us to realize what the film is all about early on but it is done in a less subtle manner. Rizwan's radical tendencies are underlined in many of his dialogues. " Ivanga ellarum ippadithaan naamala midichute iruppanga; saavadikkanum ivangala ," he tells Aamir in one scene and asks him about his stand on jihad. Meanwhile, the director also uses this segment to strike up Tamil fervour, which feels needless here. When some boys provoke him, Aamir bashes them up and says, " Islam pathi thappa pesaravana Allah gavanichupar. Aana Tamil-a pathi thappa pesaravana naama dhaan gavanikkanum ." We even get a totally uncalled for duet between Aamir and Meenakshi.

But the films picks up when Aamir gets to Chennai, but even here, we don't get the thriller that we are promised. There are two problems here — one, Vitharth is miscast in this role and so cannot effectively convey the character's bewilderment, frustration, anger and helplessness. Then, there is the pacing — the director goes overboard with slow-motion shots misconstruing it as tension-building technique. So, what we get are mood-killing long drawn-out scenes that hardly put us in Aamir's shoes and feel his cluelessness. Instead of rushing forward, the film often feels like it is ambling along. The background score tries to prop things up but it goes overboard with Gregorian chant-like music.

But there are things that Aanand Krishna gets right. He creates the atmosphere that this story needs and a large part of the credit should go to the cinematographer, NS Uthaya Kumar, whose gritty camera work is clearly the film's highlight; even the scenes shot in crowded areas feel alive. Like Aamir did with Mumbai, the film manages to show the seedier side of Chennai as well.

The climax doesn't pack a wallop as Aamir did but it still leaves you with a patriotic rush, even though, here, we sense the manipulation. And, the film doesn't stop where it should. We get an epilogue of sorts, which is stylishly shot, but is as unnecessary as Aamir's back story in the beginning.
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