ANEK Review: The backdrop for Anubhav Sinha’s latest conscience-pricking drama is North East India, which is seldom and inadequately depicted in mainstream Hindi cinema. Anek is set in an undisclosed region of the North East that has been the scene of a decades-long secessionist campaign.
REVIEW: Anubhav Sinha’s Anek is a multi-layered story about efforts to negotiate a peace treaty with a separatist organisation in the northeast, a process that has dragged on for decades with no resolution.
Aman (Ayushmann Khurrana), a clandestine operative who goes by the nickname Joshua, is charged with creating a circumstance that will bring Tiger Sangha (Loitongbam Dorendra), the region’s leading rebel leader, to the negotiating table. Along the process, Aman discovers that things aren’t as black and white as he had assumed, and he finds himself emotionally and professionally conflicted.
ANEK Review: A courageous tale from the North-East, that leaves you intrigued – Watch it unfold here
Anek brings you face to face with the undercurrents of discrimination and isolation from’mainland’ India that exist in diverse regions of the northeast with conversational dialogues sprinkled throughout the narrative.
It’s a little unsettling at times, but that’s the point of the story. Sinha avoids overt jingoism and heavy-handed, seetimaar lines. What works here are the subtleties in the interactions and performances, as well as some nuanced writing that captures the essence of the grey Sinha set out to portray in the film.
Anek highlights subtle similarities between the northeast and other sections of the country, particularly Jammu and Kashmir, over the course of its runtime. For example, Abrar Butt, Aman’s boss and a Kashmiri himself, played by Manoj Pahwa, peers out of an aeroplane window while flying to the northeast.
Anek Review: Impressive performance by Ayushmann Khurrana and supporting cast
Taking in the breathtaking view, he says, “Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast, Hameen ast-o hameen ast-ohameen ast” – Khusro’s well-known line that describes the picturesque beauty of Kashmir. Through the window of that plane, the director offers you a glimpse of the outer beauty and inner turmoil of both regions.
With Ayushmann Khurrana, Manoj Pahwa, Andrea Kevichüsa, Kumud Mishra, Loitongbam Dorendra, and JD Chakraverti giving stunning performances, the film leaves the spectator with plenty of unpleasant concerns – most notably, what defines an Indian.
The movie features Andrea in the role of a national-level boxer who faces discrimination as she hails from the North East. In a recent interaction, the actress has revealed a real-life incident where she faced such kind of discrimination.
In an interview, Andrea said the actress hopes that after watching her upcoming film, people will change their perspective. “These are the few incidents that people from the northeast actually face besides the blatant name-calling. So, I really hope that people after seeing this film change their perspective,” she added.
The production design, visual tone, cinematography, and action sequences, as well as the use of silences, regional dialect, folk melodies, and the background score, lend themselves effectively to the tale.
Anubhav Sinha’s career as a conscience-keeper continues, with films like Mulk, Article 15, and Thappad forcing you to consider equality and justice in terms of religion, caste, gender, and now region.
‘Anek’ is a must-watch for those who want to know about the geopolitical situation of the Northeastern region.