No partying with the pei
The writer talks about the return of the authentic 'horror' genre in Tamil cinema with Aval this week
For years now, ever since the horror-comedy genre contaminated Tamil cinema, we have had to contend with horror elements that are comical and comedy scenes that are usually horrific. With films like Aranmanai and its sequel, you even got a fair amount of objectification as flavour. The irony of films that are usually about a wronged woman seeking revenge, managing to objectify the other women in it has never been lost on me. Some of these films even made a tidy profit at the box office, and that resulted in the spawning of more of their kind. All this have meant that if you wanted the experience of a genuine horror film, you generally looked westward.
That’s where you got The Conjuring, Lights Out, Don’t Breathe, IT… Here, you got their Indian counterparts, supposedly tailored to regional sensibilities: Shivalinga, Dhilluku Dhuddu, Jithan 2, Sowkarpettai. Occasionally, you got a Maya, the odd shiny jewel in the mud. Curiously enough, though horror-comedies like Kanchana ended up engendering films manufactured in their likeness, a film like Maya, despite all the positive word, didn’t quite do the same.
And now, two years after Maya’s release, we’ve got a film that upon first impression looks like a horror film born out of a love for the genre. I’m talking, of course, about Siddharth-starrer Aval, seemingly this week’s most promising Tamil film. On evidence of its trailer, it appears that the makers have done away with what have generally been thought of as mandatory elements in a Tamil horror film: comedy portions featuring Rajendran, a racy song towards the end (remember ‘Party with the Pei’ in Aranmanai 2?)… you get the gist.
Talking of incongruous songs, the other prominent release of this week is Vizhithiru. You probably know it for the press meet in which T Rajhendherr roasted Sai Dhanshika for not including his name in her thank you speech. The veteran actor-director’s contribution to this film is apparently his featuring in a kuthu number, Papparappa, that he has also sung. In an otherwise interesting trailer, this song is actually a sole blip. If the good word around genre-loyal films isn’t enough to convince filmmakers to avoid such ill-advised masala detours, perhaps they ought to take a quick look at the comments section of their promo videos. It’s quite revealing that the top comment under Aval’s trailer is one that appreciates its loyalty to the genre, while the one under Vizhithiru’s trailer is one that bemoans the inclusion of the TR song. Should Aval do well, perhaps horror filmmakers will finally realize that you don’t always have to ‘party with the pei’.