Film Review: My Name is Anthony Gonsalves

Film: My Name is Anthony Gonsalves
Banner: E Niwas Productions, Red Chillies Entertainment, Sahara One Motion Pictures

Director: E Niwas

Cinematography: Prakash Kutty

Editor: Rameshwar S Bhagat

Screenplay: Mayur Puri, Lajan Joseph

Story / Writer: Mayur Puri, Lajan Joseph Oommen

Cast: Nikhil Dwivedi, Amrita Rao, D Santosh, Lilette Dubey, Pawan Malhotra, Mukesh Tiwari, Daya Shanker Pandey, Javed Sheikh, Anupam Kher, Saurabh Shukla, Hrishita Bhatt,
Kunal Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty, Manoj Pahwa, Priyanka Chopra, Anil Kapoor

Rating: 6/10

This weekend is seeing a double dose of conscience-searers with the protagonist (who, in an obvious juxtaposition to being a real-life hero, dreams of being a Bollywood star) being torn in a metaphysical conflict whether to tell or not. First there was the tepid ‘Halla Bol’ and now there is a lukewarm ‘My Name is Anthony Gonsalves.’ Well, a little warmer than tepid this earnest little film is no scorcher despite its interesting premise and engaging plotlines.

My Name is Anthony Gonsalves is a story of an orphan waiter boy, brought up by a don and a priest and who dreams of being a hero in films. While his guileless charm and talent land him a dream role (and a sweetheart) he bumps into a dirty secret concerning the Don he considers his elder brother and sole benefactor. A cat and mouse game between him and the police and his conscience begins which ends in a good deal of turned tables but typically sorted endings.

Dealing with an interesting premise, the film is quite well-written. A fluid screenplay and competent dialogues balance drama, emotion and comedy well. Simplicity does not become simplistic except in translating the Julius Ceasar parallel, and that is a huge achievement in itself. Inherently, though, the script struggles with a few dichotomies that it resolves in an almost easy-way-out style. In doing so, it under-exploits the dramatic and emotional quotient of the subject matter. In trying to keep the film light and frothy dramatic tension has been diluted and that harms the film is a major way.

The film attempts a Shakespearification of content in order to merge froth with depth and give the film a range. Sadly though, the simplistic representation of Julius Ceaser, the play within the story fails the (oft-repeated) allusions to take effect. It is not as much the drawing of parallels but the way it is done that strikes a wrong chord. Furthermore, the parallels remain at a character-expose level when the ending turns out to be different than anticipated and even a tad bit insipid compared to the dramatic potential at offer. Director E. Niwas tends to make the wrong choices more than once.

The film is a sincere effort at telling a different, no frills and true to reality lives of common heroes and villains. Character sketches manage to hold interest but character portrayals lack solid definition. This is mostly due to uni-dimensional visualisation. Every character has one singular characteristic that defines him/her. All the characters see and play themselves such, little exploring the skins they wear, leading to a limited experience for the audience. Direction fall shorts of instilling value to existing graphs and exploring layers be it in characters or the screenplay. 

With limited character graphs and an equally limited-by-vision direction handicaps the actors in what could have become more endearing characters. Debutante Nikhil Dwivedi exudes the innocence and charm of youth and simple-hearted-ness which keeps the film looking fresh. He falters a number of times though in emotional as well as lighter scenes, making the feel-goodness seem forced. He is also unable to carry off his Bandra boy act despite trying hard. His accent, actions and dialogues seem a little strained leading to a disconnection with the character. Amrita Rao looks pretty and petite along with doing a good job of playing Anthony’s love-interest. Anupam Kher and Pavan Malhotra surprise with disappointing performances that shows up the holes in the characters more than ever. Lillette Dubey, is her charming self in that not-worth-her cameo and so is Mithunda. He is a pleasure to watch from start to finish, despite everything and adds the touch of a veteran effortlessly to the film.

My Name is Anthony Gonsalves is a sincere feel-good film which at times feels a little too good about itself. The film gives the impression of trying a bit hard to impress from every point of view, extending its element of feel-good into trying to please. It loses its special-ness there and becomes a yet-another could-have-been film.