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“Every gun has a shoulder behind it, and each shoulder burdened with a story and a struggle.” This line from Anubhav Sinha’s new action thriller, ‘Anek’, examines the political conflict that has plagued the North-East of India for decades. Unlike other nationalistic Bollywood films, ‘Anek’ explores the Indian identity by asking some tough but pertinent questions. Early on in the film, Tiger Sanga, the leader of the rebels accuses India of “hating local identity” – wanting every Indian to look the same, speak the same and think the same. Anyone who differs from the norm is labelled, he says a “chink, Naxalite or Khalistani…”

Starring Ayushmann Khurrana and debutant Andrea Kevichusa in lead roles, the film also hosts popular film actors Manoj Pahwa and Kumud Mishra in supporting roles. Khurrana’s character is that of an undercover agent named Joshua, who is sent to the North East to bring about peace to the troubled region but finds himself at a crossroads when deciding whether to follow his head or his heart. Kevichusa portrays the character of Aido, who having faced racial discrimination almost every day of her life, still dreams of not only becoming a professional boxer but representing the Indian national team in international competitions so that she can finally prove her belonging. How the two characters go on to achieve their purpose despite the obstacles forms the crux of the story.

Khurrana once again delivers an incredible performance, proving his mettle as one of the industry’s most talented stars. Pahwa also excels in his role as the Intelligence Chief. Kevichusa, though is a little underwhelming though she clearly has potential to shine in the future.

Alot is expected from films helmed by Sinha – and rightly so. With films such as ‘Article 15’ (2019), and ‘Mulk’ (2020), ‘Anek’ is also expected to walk down a path less trodden and ignite debate. And in that regard, he succeeds.

The film however could have had a tighter screenplay. A tad slow in the first half and fast paced in the second the film does manage to fit quite a lot in in a short amount of time.

‘Anek’ is such a film that wont set the box office on fire or most probably even hit the 100 crore milestone. But the importance of ‘Anek’ and other films like it cannot be overstated. Not only does it give food for thought on the current political dimensions in India, it helps us emphathise with the struggles and burdens of fellow Indians across the nation. And that alone is a reason to applaud it.

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