Language: Tamil

Cast: Raghava Lawrence, Kovai Sarala, Oviya, Vedhika

Director: Raghava Lawrence

According to Aristotle… (Reader’s mind voice: Wait! What? I thought I was reading the review of ‘Kanchana 3’. After years of sitting through films like ‘Boomerang’, has BR finally lost it?) Bear with me, please. I’m trying to make a point here. So according to Aristotle, we like scary stories because we get a sense of catharsis, a chance to purge ourselves of aggressive and negative emotions. Freud gives us another theory: horror allows us to vent out feelings and thoughts that have been suppressed by the ego. According to Jung, horror is a manifestation of primordial images that reside in the collective unconscious. But for the purposes of this review, the most important explanation for horror may be the one from Kollywood. It’s what keeps Raghava Lawrence a star, despite Motta Siva Ketta Siva.

He returns as Raghava, the man who’s so scared of ghosts that he needs his mother (Kovai Sarala) to sleep beside him, plus stand outside the bathroom and sing to him as he relieves himself. (In other words, he puts the ‘pee’ in ‘paranormal’.) This time, trouble awaits him when he visits his grandparents. Spirits have snuck into their house, which is also home to three spirited — and perpetually underdressed — young women. (They are played by Oviya, Vedhika and Nikki Tamboli, who thrusts out her hip and butt and asks Raghava to check her out.) We also have the large family from the earlier films, including the characters played by Devadarshini and Sriman. This couple gets a ‘joke’ early on, when he returns home after a long time and she falls at his feet and while getting up, her head bumps against his crotch. It may be a veiled reference, an easter egg hinting that the whole film is, well, nuts.

Also Read: Baradwaj Rangan’s Review of Gangs of Madras

As always, there’s a serious angle, too. Raghava Lawrence plays a do-gooder named Kaali — helper of orphans, opposer of corruption, saviour of the differently abled, and singer of ‘mass’ Rajinikanth-themed songs with lines like ketta paya sir intha Kaali’. The dramatic portions in the earlier Kanchana films were revenge-themed and here, too, we have Kaali avenging himself on <insert name of rich-looking, north Indian actor trying to mouth Tamil dialogues>. These portions are really violent. At one point, a ghostly presence thrusts a trident through a whole bunch of attackers and hoists them into the air. A road accident shows the victim sliding on the slipperiness of her own blood. A man ends up being impaled in the throat. The children in the seats next to me, who were giggling through the slapsticky early portions, suddenly turned dead-silent.

To some viewers, the scares on screen may be redundant. The very existence of Kanchana 3 (or Muni 4, depending on how you look at it) — with a high-pitched Kovai Sarala screaming above the pounding drums in the background score — may be cause enough for stomach-churning dread. But at least with this franchise, writer-director Ragava Lawrence has a loyal fan base — so all complaints from critics may be redundant. In theory, I am a fan of mixing humour and horror. I just wish they worked more on the writing. I just wish they didn’t think Soori introducing himself as “rowdy industry la upcoming rowdy” was enough to reduce us to helpless laughter. I can live with the non-existent craft in these films, but is it too much to ask a horror-comedy to have some quality horror and some quality comedy?

Rating:   star

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