Siddharth and Catherine Tresa in Aruvam

Director: Sai Sekhar

Cast: Siddharth, Catherine Tresa

We’re all for love stories that celebrate the idea of ‘opposites attract’, but Aruvam takes matters a step too far. Jothi (Catherine Tresa) has anosmia, or the inability to perceive odour. She snacks on rotten biryani that restaurants want to throw away, and her Monday begins with the burial of the decomposed carcass of a dog she finds in a school toilet. But a heightened sense of smell is her lover Jagan’s (Siddharth) superpower. All he has to do is sniff the food he’s about to eat to be able to break down its chemical components, its recipe or if its been adulterated. I know love is blind, but lets not get scentimental about it.

Siddharth in Aruvam
Siddharth in Aruvam

But Aruvam isn’t about the scent of this woman. It isn’t that ambitious. It’s what you’d call a gastronomic-supernatural-social-romantic-vigilante-thriller. The supernatural comes from the point that a part of the film revolves around a haunted banyan tree that strangles anyone who tries to take a leak on it. It’s a social film, because Jagan first falls for Jothi when he spots her freeing a parrot from an astrologer’s cage, which is also romantic in a way. It’s also a thriller because Aruvam has the uncanny ability to hold the audience hostage through much of its running time.

Making a film about a person without a sense of smell seems interesting enough, but you don’t spend most of your first half establishing Jothi’s condition, only for it be magically fixed without it having any bearing on the rest of the film. Why does such a film then transform into a lecture series one could title ‘Food Safety, Corporate Greed, Hotel Hygiene and The Origins Of The Teakadai Nair.’ We then get standard-issue villains, a gender-fluid ghost and an inane second half that is basically a medley of WTF moments. Aside from the realisation that Siddharth could still play the lead if one were to remake Boys today, Aruvam has nothing to offer. By the end of it, you’re almost envious of Jothi. Had we been in her shoes, the film would have been an assault on just four of your senses.

Watch: Baradwaj Rangan in conversation with Siddharth

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