Good things invariably don’t last. Just yesterday, after watching Doctor, one felt good seeing the resurrection of Yogi Babu as a comedy actor, sans body shaming and name-calling. But then, that palace of illusions came crashing with the eponymously titled Aranmanai 3. Here, not only does his character of Abhishek get called names, he liberally passes on the slurs to his assistant Manobala.
My biggest problem with writer-director Sundar C’s Aranmanai 3, though, has to be the image of the late actor Vivekh it has left us with. To reduce a comedy actor of his calibre to this level takes some effort. And, it is our tragedy that we get to see the film after Vivekh is no more among us.
As always, this so-far successful franchise (never mind what we reviewers say, the rest of the audience laughs on point for every misogynistic joke and for every instance of body shaming, so expect a fourth film too!), is about what happens in a palace, and the spirits that inhabit it. Throw in some terribly lame humour, one track of which involves a couple that has not yet consummated their wedding, some awful excuse of a romance (a song plays like a second after a funeral where the heroine sheds tears), gyaan about women and divorce, and some CGI, and you get Aranmanai 3.
There is a palace set in a geographical location you don’t know much of, but it sticks out like a sore thumb,much like the hill people who come down to the temple in the plains, wearing the most lovely poothkuli (Toda shawls). There are others, who severely exercise their biceps, throwing all manner of things into the holy fire and also doing a bit of jugglery with ropes to tie the spirit up.
At its core, Aranmanai, as always, is about a woman wronged. But when the woman is the one wronged, the one who has gone through horrible injustice, should the audience heart not beat for her? Instead the hill people begin their chants and prayers to save the zamindar (Sampath, the one capable of so much, reduced to a one-note role he can sleepwalk through). Why, why?
Barring one potent line that Andrea Jeremiah (Eshwari, whose wedding is gatecrashed by the chief guest) gets, where she asks if women are possessions to be taken by whoever ties a thali on them, not one single female character has anything of substance to offer the film. Remember the hill people? Again, an all-male crowd!
Why do we still write female characters that lack any nuance, any layer? Why do we think humour stems out of another’s pain and insult? Why is a divorced woman always a thimirupudichava (arrogant)? These are questions directed at the wall, but still, have to be asked.
Sundar C, who plays the ex-husband of the said character who has been through a divorce, stays back to save the house. Arya, oh Arya, why did you need this after Sarpetta Parambarai? Raashi Khanna, as the unloved daughter of the house, is similarly wasted. The less said of Nalini’s Tik Tok loving character, the better. I shall go watch some of her old films to see what a performer she was once encouraged to be.
Among the redeeming factors of the film is the music by C Sathya. Let’s forgive the placement of ‘Rasavaachiye’, yes the one that follows a funeral! ‘Theeyaga Thondri’, featuring appearances by Hariharan and Shankar Mahadevan, is suitably rousing.
I wish this franchise is allowed some rest, till a logical story is found. But, something tells me, we will soon see another film where the audience is laughing for all the wrong reasons. I just hope they bring the Toda shawls back. Total beauties. I’d request some close-ups too, so I can find something to admire.