Movies Inspired by Books: Anniyan(2005) v/s Tell Me Your Dreams(1998)8:53:00 PM
In MIB (Movies Inspired by Books),we have a new weekly series where we'll discuss about the Movies (which we think are) inspired by books.By 'inspiration' we aren't referring to those rip-offs neither are we talking about those films which are 'official' adaptations of the originals.So don't expect a 'Three Idiots'(Five Point Someone) or a 'Silence of the Lambs' to be featured in this series.This week we'll be writing about the 2005 Tamil Blockbuster 'Anniyan'(Aparichit in Hindi and Aparichitudu in Telugu) directed by Shankar which we believe is heavily inspired by Sidney Sheldon's 1998 Best-seller 'Tell Me Your Dreams)
Anniyan was considered a path breaking film when it got released in the year 2005.The film which told the story of a meek Iyengar named Rules Ramanujam(Amby)was not only a highly entertaining film but also a huge critical success.Ramanujam is a lawyer who never does anything against his conscience and is highly frustrated with the 'disorders' in the society.He takes up cases of the underdog but loses badly in the court due to lack of evidence.Meanwhile is love life is also going nowhere as he is too timid to confess his love for his childhood sweetheart,Nandini.One fine day,Ambi stumbles upon a website which promises to keep a check on the rot in the society.The mild-mannered Amby who is highly frustrated by now with the 'horrible experiences' he has been having in life logs in to the website and shares information about all the 'bad people' he has met in his life.From there on,the story takes a new turn as Amby discovers that all the people against whom he has complained in the website are getting killed one by one(by a mask vigilante serial-killer who calls himself 'Anniyan').Parallely,Nandini is charmed by a supermodel 'Remo'.Half way through the movie,the audience,Nandini and the investigators who are investigating the serial killings get to know that Ambi,Anniyan & Remo are infact the same person and books him for the murder(s).How Ambi proves his innocence and saves himself from conviction is what the rest of the film portrays.In a brilliant climatic interrogation sequence,Amby transforms to Anniyan and Remo in split seconds and stuns the audience.Similarly there is a tail-end twist which is sure to surprise the viewers.
'Tell Me your Dreams' is the story of Ashley Patterson,the introverted software professional who is hated by her co-workers,the extroverted singer Toni Prescott and the timid artist Alette.Dr Peterson,Ashley's father is a renowned surgeon who is super specialised in Minimally Invasive Surgeries.Ashley is having nightmares and she fears that someone is stalking her.Toni is romantically inclined towards a jeweller while Alette finds her Mr.Perfect in a fellow artist.One Night,Ashley is petrified when she discovers that someone has broken into her house and has written 'You will die' on her dressing table mirror with her lip-stick.She calls upon the deputy police inspector for help only to find him dead outside her apartment,the next morning.Meanwhile two other murders have also happened somewhere else (the victims being Toni's and Alette's boyfriends respectively)and the similar pattern of the murders clearly indicate that it is the same person who is behind all these three acts of crime.Towards the middle of the story,it's revealed that Ashley,Toni and Allette are infact the same person and one of these personalities is responsible for the murders.
Why we believe this film is an ‘inspired’ work?
There are many things in common.Both the film and the book weave the concept of Multiple Personality Disorderinto a crime thriller plot.What could have been a mundane saga of revenge and vigilante justice is elevated to a higher level with the brilliant use of this medical concept in the story.There are many other similarities between the film and the novel.Forinstance,Ashley is not even remotely aware of the existence of her other two alters where as they obviously know her as the weak and boring Computer geek.The pattern is the same in Shankar’s film too.Remo and Anniyan know Amby as the good for nothing Iyengar lawyer but he doesn’t know that they exist.The court scenes, hypnotising scenes and the transformation of Amby to Anniyan and Remo are all there which makes it pretty evident that the character of Amby is modelled on the Sheldon protagonist,theintroverted Computer professional Ashley Patterson.The movie also has a curiously similar tail-end twist too.
Why the film is not a rip-off?
The film, though it narrates the tale of a meek and timid man who is suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder has an authentic and original story line which is in no way similar to Sheldon’s work.The characters of Amby,Anniyan and Remo are properly etched out and the director has ensured that he has included all the essential elements like colourful and well choreographed song sequences (Kumaree,Remo….), hilarious comic sequences (Vivek-Amby sequences), gravity defying stunts to entertain the audience.The concept of Multiple Personality Disorder is explained in the simplest way possible and the narration is fast and anything but confusing. While Sheldon’s novel switched gears to become a court-room drama mid-way,’Anniyan’ proceeds as the typical Shankar brand of Vigilante film and culminates in a riveting confrontation between Vikram and Praksh Raj where each of the alters come forward to help Amby.The back-story explaining the birth of Anniyan and Remo are entirely different from that of Toni and Alette though they have the recurring theme of childhood trauma associated with them.
On the whole,Anniyan though heavily inspired by Sidney Sheldon’s ‘Tell Me Your Dreams’ is a genuine and honest work and can be considered as an intelligent film maker’s fitting tribute to the master story teller.