Director: Anant Mahadevan
Producer: Bhanwar Lal Sharma
Banner: Bhanwar Lal Sharma Production
Cast: Dino Morea Minissha Lamba, Koena Mitra, Aarti Chhabria, Achint Kaur, Gulshan Grover
A young, innocent orphan girl steps into the big bad corporate world as an escort. With no experience to back her, she falters. But very soon she has her employer fall in love with her and eventually, marry her. The marriage takes her to his ancestral palace in Rajasthan that holds dark secrets of his past marriage on which hinges their present and future.
Recalling Hitchcock’s Rebecca, this film does a lot to match up to the original but remains mediocre due to a number of reasons. Anamika begins with a distinct intrigue. It thickens when the scenario includes Rajasthan with its mystique sands and haunting havelis. True, the mystique of royal palaces is well-utilised to create an ambience of edginess and the setting gives a lot to the film by its sheer presence. But the potential to exploit is shrouded in pretensions to grandeur than grandeur itself.
Despite a lot of shabbiness the director keeps his audience engaged. As it proceeds, he reveals clues about the past with his characters never revealing too much or hiding too much to keep you hooked at all times. Be it the relationship of the lead pair, the welfare of the hero or heroine, or the unraveling of the mystery itself. Thankfully the interest remains as the story unfolds.
It is not easy to make a thriller. An intriguing plot, a sharp screenplay, tantalizingly balanced between revealing and hiding, and realistic exploration of emotions with just a touch of drama that shies off melodrama and pat, you have the formula ready. Though there are many others too but Ananth N. Mahadevan seems to have this one pat except for a few glitches that dull the shine the film could have achieved.
The film is peppered with instances and characters that support the intrigue but not the story. In the final analysis they are mere props. This manipulation is an art few directors of thrillers have mastered and is definitely lacking in this film.
The screenplay plays at being smart and most of the time is quite intelligent and to the point despite its tendency to meander. Mid-way it does lose a little steam and stalls. When the audience is expecting a clue or unraveling more, mystery hangs suspended. Not thickening or dissipating. But not for too long. It takes off and picks up speed the minute it falls into the danger of killing the pace, post-interval.
The relationship of the lead pair is shown with a decent restrain and understanding of human nature. But here too are instances of repetition without making any real point at all. The coming-of-age of the mistress of the house is a sequence well conceived, directed and handled by all concerned. So is the initial awkward and nervousness of the simple middle-class girl at encountering a huge palace as her home.
Largely, the credit for winning the audience with these sequences goes to Minisha Laamba who does a god job of her role. Ananth Mahadevan has to be credited with Dino Morea’s job as well because it is rare when we see the hunk emote and he does that successfully here. Koena Mitra is apt for her role but one wishes she do away with her wig maker and get a new stylist to show off her assets best.
The film uses cinematography in a very limited sense. The director focuses his lenses strictly on telling the story and lets his screenplay create the ambience and not the lights or angles. This is good in a way as camera work does not take over the story.
The background music is unobtrusive and successfully ambient. The editing, the third hero of a thriller, disappoints with inadvertent lags and unnecessary cuts dulling the edge. Fortunately it does not hamper the film in a major way.
The biggest let down of Anamika is its predictable end and complete disregard of the potential of the brilliant material at hand. Sad, because the film could have turned into a powerful intrigue drama which it distinctly aspires to be. Nevertheless, it is not bad at all. Not bad at all.