Aranmanai 4 Movie Review: An in-form Sundar C finds the sweet spot between humour and horror

Aranmanai 4 Movie Review: An in-form Sundar C finds the sweet spot between humour and horror

Though Aranmanai 4 follows familiar tropes, the film stands out due to a writing choice that does away with the done-to-death revenge angle
Aranmanai 4(3 / 5)

Some ideas are par for the course in the Aranmanai franchise, like the nightly ghost routine, the not-so-novel use of heroines, the hit-or-miss comedy... Despite all of this, Aranmanai doesn't succumb to franchise fatigue, mainly due to refreshing plot twists and Sundar C's mastery of commercial filmmaking.

Director: Sundar C

Cast: Sundar C, Raashi Khanna, Tamannaah Bhatia, Santhosh Pratap, Ramachandra Raju, Yogi Babu, Kovai Sarala, VTV Ganesh

Rating - 3/5

Truth be told, the film doesn't get off to a good start. Advocate Saravanan (Sundar C) fights bad guys who are against a love marriage, with the scene serving as a mere exposition of his love for his sister Selvi (Tamannaah), who, we learn, eloped with her lover (Santhosh Pratap) 10 years ago. Having not heard from her for a very long time, the news of his sister and brother-in-law's sudden deaths shatter Saravanan, who leaves for the village where they reside to learn that their deaths aren't as straightforward as being reported by the police. In fact, the veracity of their deaths comes under question. Things get murkier when Saravanan goes out on an investigation. And all of this is what Aranmanai 4 is all about.

In a refreshing departure from the franchise, the evil being in Aranmanai 4 has no personal vendetta with the family in question. This wise choice by writers Sundar C, Venkatt Ragavan, and SB Ramadass has rendered the screenplay flexible enough to conjure mystery by showing seemingly unrelated events in random people's lives that ultimately have a connection. Neither does the connection lack originality nor are we able to guess the eventual reveal. This suspense, a rarity in an Aranmanai film, is sustained gainfully in the first half.

Discovering the presence of the evil creature, Baak, and certain qualities ascribed to it in the second half is instrumental in introducing the twists and the eventual challenges in taking it down. All of this adds spice to the second half. Audiences familiar with the Aranmanai franchise will not mind tonal inconsistency, especially when the comedy scenes evoke laughter. This film is an example of how comedy on paper can convincingly get replicated on screen. Just like the film itself, the comedy scenes also begin underwhelmingly but gradually get better. The pre-climax scene, in particular, is a laugh riot.

Sundar C's Saravanan is laudable for taking the back seat for the majority of the runtime. Feeling clueless about what happened to his family and what is going on in the village makes us empathetic towards the character. Morphing into a superhero for the climax fight has long ceased to be an oddity; it is still not readily acceptable given what we have seen of him for over two hours. Also, a relatively less problematic portrayal of the leading ladies makes Aranmanai 4 better than its predecessors. Tamannaah's Selvi is a compelling character, and the actor’s performance sells the mandatory flashback. To a lesser degree, Raashi Khanna's Maya is useful too, and crucially, isn’t wasted on a romantic track or relegated to being mere eye candy.

The otherworldly elements in this film, no matter how far-fetched they are, still need to come with certain rules within the story’s universe. And yet, I found myself wishing that the evil spirit had been written better and not restricted to just being the cause of jump scares. Another letdown is the supposed powers of the good spirit and how the film doesn’t really get into it. These are scenes that try to make the most of VFX, which too is just par for the course.

Yet, Sundar C keeps things engaging enough with suspense and twists, and add some effective comedy, emotional strength, and measured music by Hip Hop Adhi, and you have got the recipe for an entertaining Aranmanai film. The cameos at the end and the lead to a fifth installment only add to the intrigue, making a strong case for the extension of this franchise. Sundar C clearly has something to fall 'Baak' on.

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