Even with three established comedians sharing the screen (Vivek, Mano Bala and Yogi Babu), the humour is cringe-worthy when not downright offensive.

Poster of Aramanai 3 featuring Arya and Sundar C
Flix Review Thursday, October 14, 2021 - 18:45
Save your money

Few films in my recent memory have taken a more torturous route to arriving at the point than Sundar C's latest supposed-to-be horror comedy, Aranmanai 3. I don’t know why most of the cast is there; they little add to the story. All they do is get in the way of an already arduously long plot. 

Even with three established comedians sharing the screen (Vivek, Mano Bala and Yogi Babu), the humour is cringe-worthy when not downright offensive. To be able to waste a talent like Yogi Babu’s must take some considered effort.

Speaking of wasted talents, in a film that has a seemingly bottomless supply of characters, hardly anyone puts on a performance that doesn’t range from grating to forgettable. Sundar C, who is also the director, and has given himself a meaty role, baffles you with his intro scene—a man who supposedly adores his small daughter is utterly emotionless in an unnecessarily violent scene of a child drenched in paint thinner followed by a trail of fire.  

The plot tries to give you the back story of not one but three ghosts and why they’ve taken to haunting the palace where the film is set or occasionally killing off characters we care little about (there’s anyway a steady stream of new ones.) The king (who knows of which kingdom) played by Sampath Raj forcibly marries Eshwari (Andrea Jeremiah) we learn in a flashback. Murders and other secret crimes ensue.  The discovery of all this is supposed to function as the pivotal point. Only, it fails to because the plot gets distracted by new rabbit holes to fall in to every five minutes while you’re internally screaming for the movie to please end.

Arya, who has a far smaller role than expected, is more impressive in non-speaking scenes than when he’s attempting to woo Raashi Khanna in an insipid romance. Personally, I’m of the opinion that she’s only cast as a heroine in the instance the director wants a “vela ponnu” (there’s a dialogue praising the lightness of her skin) but nothing in the way of acting or even a passable attempt to pretend she’s speaking her own dialogues. Sampath Raj and Andrea Jeremiah put out what is an uneven performance at best. It's hard to fault them with a script that sounds like the very first draft got okayed for filming.

Aranmanai 3 is also confused about what it sees itself as, because horror-comedy it is not. The few hair-raising scenes collapse in on themselves into chaotic bangs. It’s as if the director simply didn’t know when dialing up the scene was required or when subtlety would work better. The impossibly convoluted plot gave me a very real headache much before reaching the interval. With a secret, giant cave temple randomly thrown in, curses to raise the dead, several ghosts with their own plans, the story endlessly spools out into one sub plot after another, none of them appealing. It’s hard to tell what this film wants to be: a Hollywood style horror movie or a rebooted “saami padam” or some Brahmanical fantasy meets Indiana Jones rip off? There’s really no telling. Oh but, there's also a Groot look-a-like at some point.

I came out and checked the run-time and was hard pressed to believe it’s only 2 hrs 36 minutes.

No ghost, spirit or spectre doomed to haunt the same house for eternity has felt more trapped than I did in the theatre today. Even an end credit song by Arivu couldn’t keep me from fleeing for the exit the second the lights came on. Avoid Aranmanai 3 with the same dedication that Sundar C shows in evading at arriving at a conclusion in this film.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

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