Star Cast: Vijay Sethupathi, Taapsee Pannu Yogi Babu, Jagapathi Babu, Radhika Sarathkumar, Devadarshini Chetan and ensemble.
Director: Deepak Sundarrajan
What’s Good: The Taj Mahal-esque palace that has beautiful artefacts. Also Yogi Babu and his usual comic timing.
What’s Bad: That I can be so harsh on a Vijay Sethupathi and Taapsee Pannu film. Two of my most favourite actors, but even they couldn’t save a film so shallow that I wanted it to only end. Also, they gave me a Hindi dub to review making things worse.
Loo Break: Take plenty. If not the nature, the unfunny comic lines will make you take a few.
Watch or Not?: Apart from Vijay Sethupathi finding subtlety in this circus, I don’t see any reason to watch a film so devoid of a conclusion.
Available on: Disney+ Hotstar
Runtime: 134 Minutes
Taking the already taken route but with an aware approach comes Annabelle Sethupathi, a story about a small-time burglar Rudra (Taapsee) who is brought inside a palace due to some funny incidents. But her entry to the palace isn’t a joke but an important event in the larger scheme of things. She learns about her past life and is surrounded by multiple ghosts. Flashback and the eccentricity of the present is where the movie exists.
Annabelle Sethupathi Movie Review: Script Analysis
For years Tamil cinema has proudly narrated stories of reincarnation and haunted Havelis. Of course, they had an audience and worked pretty well at the box office too. But with time cinema evolved and so did the audience. Maybe that is the fact Deepak Surenderrajan knows pretty well. He is completely aware that his premise is done to death and so he starts making fun of himself.
When Yogi Babu’s Shanmugam, or his spirit narrates the tale of her past life to Taapsee’s Rudra, she calls it atrocious. She says something to the effect of “What new stories are you coming up with?”. Shanmugam replies, “Who tells new stories these days?” probably a dig at Tamil cinema. So you know the writing is coming from an aware place. But what happens when the no brainer section of the story begins is where the ship starts to sink.
We are introduced to Taapsee and her family while she is pickpocketing in a train with them in the present day. Few scenes with no resemblance to the main plot and funny in a very childish way lead to the main story. Now we have already wasted the first half in all of this and almost half of our interest is drained.
At this point comes the man who is responsible to save his films half of the time and he does that here too. In a universe, so OTT that even the ghosts have no moment of peace, Vijay Sethupathi becomes the subtle note. Not that his character gets a layered narrative. He is one tone but his mannerism and the way he conducts himself save the day.
I know some films especially comedies are made not to make any sense. Deepak in his writing even mentions that twice through Yogi breaking the fourth wall in a way. But if you make me sit for two hours and the conclusion is far away from satisfactory, I will complain.
Annabelle Sethupathi Movie Review: Star Performance
I cannot think of any reason except just the urge to work with each other that made Taapsee Pannu and Vijay Sethupathi sign this mess. Two of my most favourite actors not getting what they are worth breaks my heart. Taapsee especially sees a complete 180-degree shuffle in her character and it is hard to digest.
Yogi Babu gets the best character and he is the lead for me. Though yet again his brilliant acting abilities are reduced to being comic relief and we know he can sleepwalk these characters now. Someday make this man the main villain and see the magic, please!
Rest everyone from a brilliant Radhika Sarathkumar to many other veterans include Jagapathi Babu try to be funny but the script fails them.
Annabelle Sethupathi Movie Review: Direction, Music
Deepak Sunderrajan also holds the direction credits and he goes on to make a film that looks far away from reality. You know how Hollywood envisioned India in their movies a decade ago right? Same! I understand he has made a palace like the Mayasabha, but it is also the present day. No elements from the real world are affecting what’s happening inside.
Music does nothing to help this sinking ship and that is the only thing I could notice about it.
Annabelle Sethupathi Movie Review: The Last Word
How no one in the team ever pointed out at the falling kingdom is a surprise to me. The movie has the best things yet doesn’t turn out to be amazing.
Annabelle Sethupathi Trailer
Annabelle Sethupathi releases on 17th September 2021.
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Read Maestro’s review to know if that’s worth a dekko!