Aal: Film Review – A half-baked remake of the original

Taking hints generously from its original, Aamir, comes this week’s release, Aal. Filled with tight shots, a fast second-half and a super-fast narrative, Aal might convince you on a certain level. Although, it takes its premise from a racy film like Aamir, it eventually lacks the intensity the original film had provided. 

Directed by Aanand Krishna, Aal stars Viddharth as Ameer, a professor in Gangtok who returns to Chennai to meet his girlfriend. His life turns upside down when he sets foot in the city. Two masked men – who look like SPD power rangers, thanks to their color-coordinated outfits and stiff body language, approach him and hand a mobile over to him. He then receives a phone call, where a voice tells him to follow his instructions and threatens to kill his family, if he fails to do so. Ameer is then made to experience the poverty-struck regions of Chennai. Now the concern here is, in the original, the protagonist was made to do this, because he was a man who lived a luxurious life abroad. By putting him on this mission, the villain inferred that this would teach him about the sufferings of people. But in the film Aal, why was our man, Ameer made to do the same? Of course, it captures the local milieu remarkably well, but is there a purpose to this?
Who are the goons and why do they provide a huge amount of money. Also, you will notice how the focus is only on these goons gobbling down food. The sound that replicates the loud chewing sounds is like these men are biting and chewing pebbles and stones.
The film does have a few remarkable scenes. A special mention to the scene at the lodge, where the manager is heard speaking in ‘local’ Tamil. Also, it’s a very unusual climax. The music by Johan works well and lifts the mood of the film. But the visuals and placement of ‘Androoru Naal’ is a sleazy addition, to this otherwise thrilling film.
The villain urges Ameer to follow Jihaad, the real reason behind this is unknown. Perhaps a back-story or an original subplot  would’ve helped understand the motive. The villain here isn’t just a voice, his image is revealed in the first-half of the story. The story behind his anti-social ways is conveyed in an incomplete manner. You wonder why the filmmaker decides to mute the villain’s flashback.
As the film gives us an insight into Ameer’s life in Gangtok, you are given a hint that Ameer can fight and perform stunts of a mass hero. You specifically see him when he attacks the bullies, who by the way, speak juvenile English dialogues. This in addition to the inglorious scene where an artist laughs like one of the cartoon characters, that goes ‘hehehehe’, ‘hohohoho’.  You then find the hero, attack them and mouth the dialogue – "Muslim pathi pesuna Allah pathupan, but Tamilan pathi pesuna nama dhan pathukanom." (Speak ill about a Muslim and Allah will take care, but speak ill about a Tamilian, it is our duty to take care)
Why should you watch this film? 
Watch it to understand the real meaning of Jihad in its climax. But you might want to skip this if you have watched the original. A decent debut by director Aanand Krishna, but you wish the film could give us a suitable and clearer explanation of the story sans the melodrama, that could’ve made this a gripping thriller. 

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