‘Aranmanai 3’ movie review: A horror-comedy that takes too many detours and ends up directionless

Rahi Khanna and Sundar C in ‘Aranmanai 3’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

At one point in Sundar C’s Aranmanai 3, a pair of grey cracked hands holds Abhishek’s (Yogi Babu) and Sigamani’s (Vivekh) hands. Abhishek and Sigamani know the house they currently inhabit is haunted. Yet they choose to hold hands with the spirit to play ‘Ring a Ring o’ Roses’. One of them sings incorrectly, “Ringa a Ring o’ Moses”. Another character corrects them, “Ayyo, adhu ‘Moses’ illa, ‘roses’ (It’s not ‘Moses’, it’s ‘roses’)”. The person sitting next to me laughed hardly, slapping his thigh. I looked at him with a bit of envy. I wished I got even a smidgen of that enjoyment from the film.

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Horror-comedy, as a genre, is odd as — to borrow Vimal’s line from Kalakalappu (also directed by Sundar C) — a combination of sakkara pongal and vada curry. If the film uses horror elements as props to make you laugh, that is fine. The Scary Movie series do that, for instance. But a film that sets out to scare its audience and make them laugh ends up treading a tightrope. And, most Tamil films do not manage this balancing act.

Aranmanai 3 does not, either. In one of the scenes, the vengeful spirit uses its telekinetic powers to murder Jyothi (Rashi Khanna), the protagonist. In another, it fools around with Abhishek and Sigamani. How do we, then, get scared by it? The film attempts to evoke terror with hackneyed horror elements (eyes moving in a portrait, pregnant silences broken by a demonic figure’s blood-curdling shriek, kids interacting with an invisible entity, etc.) But these scenes are constantly interjected with extended comedic set pieces that are disjointed from the plot.

Aranmanai 3
  • Director: Sundar C
  • Cast: Rashi Khanna, Sundar C, Andreah Jeremiah, Arya, Vivekh, Sampath and others
  • Storyline: A spirit that’s out to avenge her and her daughter’s murderers
  • Duration: 156 minutes

Even these set pieces fail to entertain (my thigh-slapping neighbour might disagree). It felt nice to see Vivekh on screen again. His encounters with Yogi Babu and Manobala evoke some half-chuckles. But even that was due to the actors’ appearance, mannerisms, and delivery of dialogues. The lines and the situations were trite. Yogi Babu usually calls his comedic sidekick, something-moonji (in this film, he calls his fellow thief, Manobala, ‘balli-moonji’ (lizard face)). There is Nalini, who does Tik Tok videos (just that is supposed to be funny). Vivekh plays a tragic virgin who has not had sex with his wife despite 15 years of marriage.

There is also a sub-plot of Saravanan (Arya) liking Jyothi. Saravanan is an electrician and Jyothi’s childhood friend. Apart from these details, we know nothing else about him. Arya, in that sense, plays just a cameo in the film. He comes and goes at random points. He is at the centre of the supernatural drama that unfolds in the second half. But we do not even know why he, the palace electrician, is involved in the first place. Because the film moves on from one character to another, it is hard to care about anyone.

After all these detours, the film finally starts telling the ghost’s story in the second half. But that is not new either: a rich cruel zamindar murdering his wife and her newborn. The wife and newborn daughter become spirits to murder, spook, and play the fool with comedy sidekicks.

There is also a lot of black magic, bad VFX, blaring background score, and (of course), a climax involving Amman in the second half. Thankfully, there are no post-credit shots (like a hand emerging from the grave) that promise a sequel. But you never know. Now, that is actually quite scary.

Aranmanai 3 is currently running in theatres

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 5:51:27 AM |

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