In Tamil, the word 'Aruvam' can be roughly translated to 'formless' or 'shapeless'. And if there is one thing director Sai Sekhar got right in his movie, it is the title. You can barely make head or tail of this horror film which lacks even the semblance of a logical structure in its two-and-a-half-hour duration.
The movie stars Siddharth and Catherine Tresa in the lead roles. Catherine Tresa plays the role of Jyothi, a government school teacher who wants to model her life on Mother Teresa. What she manages to do, however, is behave like Asin on steroids from Ghajini, where the heroine fights to rescue trafficked children from a train. Here though, the heroine attacks a fortune-teller on the road for keeping a parrot caged. To make matters worse, Jaganathan (Siddharth) who's a witness to this exchange of 'If you have the guts, use a puli instead of a kili', promptly falls in love with Jyothi.
He stalks her for a day, notices her various good deeds and then asks her to marry him. When she refuses, he goes straight to her house and convinces her father about the marriage. He even admits that what he is doing is downright creepy but clearly it doesn't stop him. Imagine someone committing a crime like stealing and constantly apologising while he is at the deed. Would it then become acceptable? What are we supposed to make of this?
Meanwhile, Jyothi has a medical condition that the film can't stop harping upon - anosmia, which means she has no sense of smell. If, by now, you are wondering what to do with all these facts and where the element of horror comes in, welcome to the club. For most of the film's first half, you are led to believe that the ghost here is probably a tree which has a bad temper. It is mostly whacking men who pee on it and people who use the grounds for misdeeds.
It is only before the interval that the director decides it is about time he allowed the audience in on the actual horror plot that they have paid to watch . While he may have aimed at bowling you over with the 'suspense' element, all you really feel is a sense of dismay at the complete confusion on screen (and the prospect of sitting through the rest of it).
In the second half, the movie finally explores the character of Jaganathan, who it turns out is an honest and frankly, violent food safety official. For half an hour, we follow fast cars on screen going from a tea shop to a milk factory, shouting 'Charge', 'Seal' and 'Search'. With a keen sense of smell that will put sniffer dogs to shame, Jaganathan can tell if a dish is adulterated just by smelling it (No, I am not joking).
His clash with corrupt businessmen and politicians then forms the crux of the film. Jyothi's involvement in this fight brings with it a supernatural element and to reveal more would prove to be a spoiler.
The film's screenplay must have been jumbled and nobody bothered to tell the director when he was shooting - that's the only explanation to have made such a disjointed horror movie. Flashbacks seem to have been added as afterthoughts and the crucial element of horror is all but missing. Even the ghost in the film (yes, it does finally emerge) appears like a pixelated image and the portrayal shows utter disregard for the sensibilities of the audience. It is inexplicable why an actor like Siddharth, who has shot one of Kollywood's best horror films - Aval - would choose to regress in the same genre.
Both Catherine and Siddharth play the roles given to them admirably, but there is only so much actors can do, when a film that promises horror forgets what it set out to do.
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.