The plot involving two estranged brothers mostly falls flat because the events and the emotions feel contrived

Dual role stories, especially involving brothers, have fascinated Tamil cinema’s filmmakers and stars since the days of MGR. Almost all stars have done such roles. ‘Hiphop Tamizha’ Adhi attempts this in Aswin Raam’s debut film, Anbarivu, wherein he plays estranged twins, Anbu and Arivu.

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The trope of two lookalike brothers has kind of become banal though, as most such films stick to a template: brothers as different as chalk and cheese in the beginning but embracing their differences in the end. There have been a few films, like Kamal Haasan’s iconic Aboorva Sagodharargal (wherein one of the brothers is dwarfed) and SJ Suryah’s Vaali (in which one of the brothers is a psychopathic villain) that have tweaked this template.

Anbarivu does not.

Anbu and Arivu grow up in Arasapuram (a fictional village) and Canada, respectively. Adhi tries to differentiate between the two characters through his speech and body language but in a not-too-subtle manner. As Anbu, he keeps twirling his ‘stache and bosses around people in rustic Madurai Tamil. As Arivu, he speaks in a jarring, inconsistent accent, which is unintentionally funny. As in MGR’s Engal Veetu Pillai, one of the brothers (Anbu, in this case) is blessed with brute strength and can beat up people, whereas his twin in Canada gets on top of a well to avoid being chased by a bull. But Arivu is not entirely meek either. He is brave enough to speak his mind and argue for what he believes is right. He delivers the morals in the film.

Arivu sets out to unite his family, separated by a 25-year-old feud involving his grandfather Muniyandi (Napoleon), his mother Lakshmi (Asha Sharath), his father Prakasam (Sai Kumar), and his father’s conniving friend, Pasupathy (Vidharth).

Anbarivu

  • Director: Aswin Raam
  • Cast: ‘Hiphop Tamizha’ Adhi, Napoleon, Vidharth, Asha Sharath, and more
  • Storyline:Two long-separated twins repair a family feud and village disharmony
  • Run time:165 minutes

Muniyandi is shown as the overlord of Arasapuram and the neighbouring village of Aandiyapuram. The two villages belong to the same constituency and Muniyandi is the guy who decides who gets to be the MLA. But there is an apparent caste politics at play, with the power-hungry Pasupathy conspiring a feud that separates a family.

When Arivu learns this after 25 years, he sets out to unite his family. But he soon realises that to do that, he first needs to unite the two neighbouring villages.

The film attempts to speak out against discrimination through its protagonists, especially Arivu. But even as Prakasam (from Aandiyapuram) is punished for his deeds, Muniyandi, who has been a casteist, gets a redeeming moment. He is shown as a benevolent overlord who is redeemed by love.

The family drama mostly falls flat because the events and the emotions feel contrived. For instance, on his 25th birthday, Arivu is shown feeding a piece of cake to his mother’s photo. He, thankfully, does not smear the cake all over the photo but the moment is cringy. These scenes of garish melodrama are stretched out as well. The songs and action sequences does not help the film’s cause either.

‘Anbarivu’ is streaming on Disney+Hotstar

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