Muni 4: Kanchana 3 Review: A hurtful addition to a hit franchise
The saving grace of this film is the franchise's most dependable characters, Raghava's mother and sister-in-law, played by Kovai Sarala and Devadarshini, respectively
The Muni series has the most number of films in a franchise in our industry, with Raghava Lawrence churning out a film every four years since Muni came out in 2007. The series, a pioneer of the since abused horror-comedy genre, has struck a chord with the family audience, it seems. This is largely on account of its child-friendly slapstick humour and decently-written paranormal sequences. The latest offering from the franchise, Muni 4: Kanchana 3, however, takes all this for granted and we end up with a mess.
Director: Raghava Lawrence
Cast: Raghava Lawrence, Kovai Sarala, Devadarshini, Oviya, Vedhika
Let's start with the title. The first film was named Muni while the second, called Muni 2: Kanchana, became a bigger success. This supposedly forced the makers to call the third film, Muni 3: Kanchana 2: Ganga. I wouldn't have been surprised had they named the latest instalment, Muni 4: Kanchana 3: Ganga 2:
The previous three films consistently showed us, at the outset, a glimpse of the ghost. Muni showed us how Rajkiran's character gets killed, the second film showed how a piece of land is haunted, while the third shows how a house is taken over by spirits. What we get in this film is a proper mass hero introduction shot for Raghava Lawrence. He goes around slaughtering people while loud and jarring music seems to slaughter our hearing.
A big disappointment of this film is its flashback. The first three films starred Rajkiran, Sarath Kumar and Nithya Menen. But in the latest instalment, we get... Raghava Lawrence again. The flashback follows the trials and tribulations of Kaali, a Rajini reference which even leads to a 'ketta paiyan saar intha Kaali' song. This character seems to have been etched out of the actor's real-life persona and his charity deeds. These portions are deeply uninteresting.
How this film portrays its three female leads, excluding the one who appears in the flashback sequences, is another exercise in disappointment. To begin with, there's no solid reason given for why we have all of them (Oviya, Vedhika and Nikki Tamboli). All these three heroines have nothing productive to do in the film and seem to be defined by their skimpily clad appearance. Their job, it seems, is to woo Raghava (Raghava Lawrence), because as dictated by Tamil film traditions, that's what 'mama ponnunga' do. Lawrence heralds their arrival by referring to them as 'figures' to his parents. In a scene shortly after, he says, "Moonu perum onna vanthalum, naa ready" and this time, he is addressing his grandparents. As if that weren't enough, even the ghost, which, as you guessed, takes over Raghava's body, again refers to these women as 'figures'. We then get a scene in which he spanks each of them. I wish I were making this up. Also, remember the recurring idea of Raghava jumping on to the hips of those nearby when he gets frightened by a ghost? All the leads in this film have the privilege of carrying him.
The film doesn't get interesting even when the plot thickens. A random family believes their daughter has severe stomach issue even when the young woman does everything we've seen in the Exorcist films and runs with its arms swaying behind like an anime character. The scene where the exorcists visit this particular ghost, the family would've lit candles throughout the house even though no one asked for it and we know why -- just because the ghost can appear and put off the candles in one swoop. These were one among a few scenes that were unintentionally funny. The action sequences are gory and are definitely not the sort you would expect in a kid-friendly film. If heroes punching goons from one end of the street to another is cliche, ghosts can apparently punch a person from an empty car parking to a godown. Speaking about which, the climax fight happens in a crematory set that reminded me of Chinnamma Chilakamma song from Sakkarakatti (which incidentally also starred Vedhika).
The saving grace of this film is the franchise's most dependable characters, Raghava's mother and sister-in-law, played by Kovai Sarala and Devadarshini, respectively. Their importance is recognised, and they are given ample screen space to perform slapstick comedy. The veteran comedienne even voices the statutory warnings.
The final nail in the coffin of this film is its songs -- not one of them work. Considering the first three films had some memorable songs -- Varranda Muni, Karuppu Perazhaga and Silatta Pilatta -- the horribly placed songs only serve to stretch the interminable runtime.
Muni 4 : Kanchana 3 offers nothing new to the franchise, and only brings it down. The film ends with Raghava Lawrence teasing Muni 5, which got me hoping that it's, unlike this film, terrifying for the right reasons.