The movie starts brilliantly, with excellent visuals giving us glimpses of colourful photographic images. Then after the opening credits, we see a young Anwar (Siddharth Koirala) travelling buy bus. He decides to stop at Dholpur and spends the night in a temple. In the morning he is awakened by voices. A minister makes an announcement about a terrorist hiding in the temple. Gradually villagers, journalists, police and even filmmakers get involved in the gathering crowd.
Jha doesn't tell his story chronologically and that works because it keeps the viewer engaged and to keep focus on different characters and their stories. 'Anwar' is mainly Anwar's story but we also see several more broken or breaking love stories e.g. the minister and his ex-mistress, master Pasha, the reporter Anita, the cop and his dying wife and of course Anwar and Mehru. Don't people do some of the most irrational things when they have just experienced a severe heartbreak? Either they want to get back at the person who destroyed the relationship (Anwar), win back the lover (Anwar), project their anger towards something (or someone) else (the minister), preoccupy themselves with something else to not think about it (Manisha's character), or take drastic measures to end the pain immediately (Vijay Raaz's character).
At the same time we also see how many of these people are getting involved with the crowd around the temple, each one there for their own benefit e.g. the paranoid journalist (Rajpal Yadav) who thinks Bin Ladin is in there or the minister who sees this as a chance to win more votes. At first I thought that the Rajpal Yadav character was ridiculous but after re-watching the film, it made a lot more sense. During such (potential) crisis situations, isn't everyone wondering who's behind it? I mean nowadays when one hears of a bomb blast anywhere, the first name that comes to mind of the common people is Al Qaeda. Yadav's paranoid character actually believes that Bin Laden's hiding in the temple and this story will make him big.
The item number may seem pointless. However, the whole shooting in the temple location makes a lot of sense. It's good publicity for the filmmaker to shoot his film at the place and time of crisis. The item number presents the ridicule of the idea.
Jha's direction is superb and throughout the film we see images that symbolize something. Jha is telling us something through each of these images. I'll come back to this later on. The performances are equally excellent. Siddharth Koirala delivers one of the finest performances of the year. Nauheed Cyrusi is brilliant and Hiten Tejwani is good too. Vijay Raaz is a knockout. The rest of the cast are all adequate. The songs and background scores flow beautifully with the screenplay.
As I mentioned earlier, 'Anwar' is full of symbols. For example: Why were all the love stories broken/incomplete? What was Jha trying to convey about love in today's world? Did Anwar see his love for Mehru as Krishna's love for Radha? In one of the earlier images we see a blue earring fall into water, in a later scene we see Udit take off that earring from Mehru's ear. It was Anwar who had bought that ring for her. Why was that boy wearing a tri-colour shirt of the Indian flag? There are several ways to interpret.
This is one of the movies I'd love to further analyze and discuss but I'll just stop here for now. I do recommend people to watch this beautiful thought-provoking work of art even though I don't think it will appeal to everyone. If it doesn't appeal on first glance, try and give it another chance. It does get better with subsequent viewing.
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