When I saw Sujoy Ghosh’s excellently crafted HIndi film, Kahaani, several months ago, I was quite impressed by the premise, the narration and the climax. When I learned that Sekhar Kammula was going to remake it in Telugu, I was a bit perplexed. Why Sekhar Kammula? Anybody can remake a film. A remake does not need a talented director who entered the field because of his passion for making his kind of films. He should be making his kind of originals, not remakes (though it can be argued that he already made a remake – Happy Days into Life is Beautiful). And, his genre is the middle class film, not the mystery thriller that Kahaani belonged to.
Apparently, Sekhar Kammula wasn’t too sure about remaking a film either. He decided to adapt the original into his own version. In this reconstruction, he left the façade barely intact and gutted and rebuilt the innards completely. There in lies the rub.
Anaamika is a well made, solid, interesting Telugu film. It does not follow the usual beaten path. It has a very strong central female character (a Kammula trademark; she even has the same parents from the earlier Kammula films), played extremely well by Nayanataara. Romance is understated, the only song is more like background music, and there are no dances. The film is gritty, realistic, suspenseful, and engrossing for the most part. It has solid performances by the entire supporting cast; it was pleasing to see even the minor characters – played mostly by actors I have not seen before – playing their roles excellently. Vaibhav as the sincere and smitten inspector was impressive. Sunitha’s dubbing for Nayanataara needs special mention – her emotive expression elevated every scene. Vijay Kumar’s photography, Keeravani’s music, Marthand’s editing, sound design and the set design are of excellent quality. Kammula’s shot selection makes the narrow populous confines of the Hyderabad old city gullies come alive and he uses this agoraphobic intensity to enhance the lonely quest of his protagonist.
So, should one see this film, if he/she has already seen the Hindi original? Absolutely. This is a very different film than the original. One cannot predict the course of this film from the knowledge of the original story. Anaamika has plenty of surprises, including in the climax.
Also, Sekhar Kammula tried to weave in the issue of sexual harassment, for which he needs to be commended. Also noteworthy is his use of the various appearances of Durga during the Navaratri festival as a motif. There was one small scene (in which a little girl pays homage to her dead brother) that was quite moving.
But, this film fell short of the Hindi original on some important counts. Kahaani was well paced without much lag; it has several memorable sequences, particularly the climax, that were unexpected and made you sit up; and the way all the loose ends were tied up very neatly by the end was quite satisfying. Anaamika’s pace in the first half was quite slow. Other than the climax, the film has few scenes that were stunning. And, there are too many holes in the plot with the film ending with many unanswered questions. I felt that Sujoy Ghosh, even as he wove a slick tale of deception, respected the intelligence of his audience – he made sure that the answers to the puzzle fitted perfectly by the end. Sadly, Sekhar Kammula /Yandamuri Veerendranath combo, with their screenplay, did not show the same respect to the Telugu audience. There are many inconsistencies, coincidences and unanswered questions that they did not bother to address. That is quite troubling.
Though Sekhar Kammula competently handled this film, I feel that he would have been better off passing this offer. Kammula is too independently creative to leave a good original alone and too out of his comfort zone to craft an original, satisfying mystery thriller from the material handed to him.