Realism meets commercialism. Madhur Bhandarkar takes the same route that his peers Govind Nihalani [ARDH SATYA] and Rajkumar Santoshi [KHAKEE] embarked upon in the past.
Though AAN is different from ARDH SATYA and KHAKEE, there do exist similarities. The tough life a cop leads, the politician-underworld nexus, the clash of ideologies... plots and sub-plots like these have been witnessed time and again.
Yet, what sets AAN apart is the way the makers have packaged the film. Besides clap-trap situations, the film is embellished with some exceptional dramatic confrontations that would appeal to the masses. However, there's no denying that the film could've done with better writing.
The morale at Mumbai Crime Branch is extremely low. All work is happening in a highly discretionary way.
Sr. Inspector Vikram Singh [Shatrughan Sinha] has given up on the system. Inspector Appa Naik [Suniel Shetty], the encounter specialist, is of the opinion that criminals need to be eliminated. Constable Khalid [Paresh Rawal] is a happy-go-lucky guy.
These officers have accepted a laidback attitude as a way of life as they know that no one can beat the system.
The city is virtually ruled by three people? Manik Rao [Manoj Joshi] -- the Home Minister calls the shots, with the law firmly under his control. Underworld don Yusuf Pathan [Irrfan Khan] has his full support. A business magnate, Gautam Walia [Jackie Shroff], is also hand-in-glove with them.
But everything changes when D.C.P. Hari Om Patnaik [Akshay Kumar] gets transferred from Pune.
The three officers find themselves at loggerheads with the new officer, who is determined to change things. The opportunity arises when Manik Rao gets businessman Ajit Pradhan [Milind Gunaji] eliminated by Yusuf Pathan's younger brother [Rahul Dev].
Pradhan's murder opens a Pandora's box. Hari and his men set off on a trail to nab the people behind this hi-profile murder.
AAN may not be the most original script you've witnessed, but it does boast of several engaging moments.
The film takes its own time to come to the point, which explains why the viewer gets restless in the first half. The introduction of each character, especially that of Akshay and Suniel, grabs a lot of footage. However, the introduction of these two actors has been filmed most imaginatively.
The film actually takes off when Milind Gunaji is shot dead by Rahul Dev. And the pace continues to gather momentum during the song [filmed on Reema Sen] and the shootout thereafter.
Post-interval too, the film continues its brisk pace, with several confrontation scenes taking the graph of the film to a new high. The sequence between the three cops [Shatru, Akshay, Suniel] and Irrfan outside the mosque is an apt example of good execution. Ditto for the scene when Akshay shoots Rahul Dev and throws him off the skyscraper. The war of words between Om Puri and Manoj Joshi is also remarkable.
Director Madhur Bhandarkar has targeted the film at the masses and that is evident not only in the dramatic portions, but also when it comes to weaving action in the screenplay. However, the film definitely deserved a better script.
To state that the script [Manoj Tyagi and Sanjiv Puri] has its share of loopholes wouldn't be wrong. For instance, one fails to understand the need to have a romantic track between Akshay and Lara. The kind of film AAN is, even if there weren't any heroines, it wouldn't have made any difference whatsoever. Their romance and the song in the film come as a speed breaker!
Even Jackie and Raveena suffer due to half-baked characterizations. Raveena's change of heart in the pre-climax looks too sudden, while Jackie's character is hardly devilish. Even a seasoned performer like Shatrughan Sinha hasn't been given scenes that would do justice to his stature.
Music [Anu Malik] is a mixed bag. The two numbers that stand out are the ones filmed on guest performers -- Gauhar Khan and Reema Sen. Cinematography [Madhu Rao] is fantastic. The lensman has captured the realistic atmosphere with as much flourish as the glossy visuals. Dialogues are power-packed.
It would be doing gross injustice to the film without praising the action co-ordinator's [Abbas Ali Moghul] contribution. To say that the stunts are the mainstay of the film would be an understatement. In fact, the action co-ordinator is undoubtedly one of the heroes of the film.
The performances are of a high standard. Akshay stands firm on his feet in dramatic portions, which clearly indicates that the actor is taking a step forward with every film. Suniel delivers yet another performance that he can be proud of. The actor is flawless in a role that seems tailormade for him. Shatrughan Sinha returns to the screen after a hiatus and though he has his moments, they aren't enough to satiate his fans. The powerful punchlines are missing this time!
Om Puri leaves a mark in a small but significant role. Paresh Rawal brings a smile on your face yet again, though his early exit may meet with diverse reactions from viewers.
Jackie Shroff doesn't get ample scope. Ditto for Raveena. Lara Dutta is wasted. Preeti Jhangiani is adequate in a brief role. Irrfan Khan is a scene-stealer. He looms large every time he appears on the screen. Vijay Raaz and Rajpal Yadav get no scope. Manoj Joshi gets a meaty role and he delivers and how! Another actor to watchout for. Ajinkya Deo makes his presence felt. Rahul Dev is competent. Anjan Srivastava, Milind Gunaji and Ravi Kissen are alright.
On the whole, those who prefer hardcore masala flicks [with loads of action] to feel-good entertainers will like AAN. At the box-office, the film has better chances at mass-oriented theatres [single screens], not multiplexes. While the masses will love the action scenes, the critics, gentry and family audiences, especially ladies, may not really go for it. Business in circuits like U.P., Bihar, M.P. and Punjab should prove to be the best.