Anek Review: ‘Hindustan Jeetega’ with Ayushmann Khurrana in this rough, brutal film of the North East

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Film: Anek

Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Andrea Kevichüsa, Loitongbam Dorendra Singhmipham Otsa, Thejasevor Belho, Manoj Pahwa, Kumud Mishra and others

Director: Anubhav Sinha

Duration: 2 hours 27 minutes

Rating: 3 Moons

In Anubhav Sinha’s latest political thriller Anek, one character says, “Peace is a subjective hypothesis.” Rightly so. This is exactly what sets the tone of Anek, a high-octane, dark, brutal and faithful story of all the political conflicts that plagued the Northeast region of India for countless generations. Headlined by Ayushmann Khurrana, Anek also stars Andrea Kevichüsa, Loitongbam Dorendra Singhmipham Otsa, Thejasevor Belho, Manoj Pahwa, Kumud Mishra and others. 

For the longest time, the Northeastern community has been targeted and discriminated against for their looks, and language, and most importantly they have been made to feel ‘left out’ by ‘Indians’ for hailing from the extreme corner of the country. Anek sheds light on this problem through the story of Aido (Andrea Kevichüsa) a young girl from the North East who desires to represent India globally in the boxing ring. 

Meanwhile, Aman (Ayushmann Khurrana), an undercover agent working for the Government of India, is in the region disguised as Joshua. He is tasked to uncover and track down a rebel group working against government forces. The thread that ties Aman and Aido is the latter’s father Wangnao (Loitongbam Dorendra Singhmipham Otsa), a school teacher who covertly operates the rebel group. 

Anek treads the thin line that separates political dialogues from chest-thumping patriotism and anti-nationalism. With a backbone to address the unrest in the Seven Sisters, the film uses violence to highlight intolerance and does not make it a spectacle. Anubhav packs stories set in Northeastern India in a wrapping that is not for the faint-hearted. The world of Anek (‘ne’ in the title stands for North East) is dark, intense, brutal and black. 

Piercing the heart of North East India, Anek is like a sharp arrow of political integrity that hits you oddly. Refusing to term guerrilla fighters as terrorists, Anek presents the darker and less-explored side of the beautiful land. Anubhav, who has written the dialogues as well as the screenplay, knows what he wants to serve his audience. The director, after giving us the brilliant Article 15, makes sure his dialogue is communicated with equal effectiveness as the visuals. 

While the first half of Anek is shaky and unconvincing, the post-interval part is heartbreakingly beautiful and devastating. I simply cannot take away the fact that Anubhav, though taking the harsh way which might not please everyone, has projected the existing real-life horrors of young villagers who are forced by circumstances to take up the job of guerrilla fighters to protect their land. The peace in the fertile land is replaced by bloodshed. Songs of harmony find songs of cry as their substitutes and crystal clear pristine waters are soiled by human blood shed during wars.

Anek’s plus point is its honesty. It stays true to the locals of North East India and allows them to leave behind an impact with dialogues in their very own language. The film gets the political dialogue almost bang on at least in the second half. However, my problem with Anek is the limited and predictable storyline given to Andrea. The newbie gets a weaker character graph as compared to the rest. Whenever she appears on the screen, we know what’s going to happen next. Apart from this, as an actress, Andrea shows immense promise. Anek also flatters in the first half as there is too much happening. Too many names and too many details to remember especially when you are going to a theatre to watch a film and not a documentary. These aspects can prove to be a dampener. 

Performance-wise, Ayushmann brings his A-game to Anek and excels as usual. In a tailor-made role of Aman/Joshua, the actor shows his angry young man side and raises important questions. His dialogue on Hindi as the national language stands out. Towards the end of the film, we also get to see his action hero avatar which is refreshing. Manoj Pahwa puts his grey side to display. It was a joy watching him on the big screen in a different role. 

The screenplay of Anek by Anubhav, Sima Agarwal and Yash Keswani didn’t excite me in the first half but it surely made my jaws drop post-interval. It brutally exposed the wounds of the North East with enough sensitivity. At the end of the day, Ayushmann, Anubhav & Co. prove Jeetega Kaun? Hindustan!

PeepingMoon gives Anek 3 Moons

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