Scared by the clichés


What’s truly scary about Aranmanai is how it brings nothing new to the horror genre. A creaky door opening slowly is a cue to the audience that they are to be startled with garish music. In another scene, a person moves but her reflection does not. Yet another scene has the ghost aimlessly standing behind a person for nothing but to scare the wits out of the onlooker. This ghost also plays indoor games with a child thought to be mentally deficient.

The film has a whole host of stereotypes associated with the horror genre in Tamil cinema — the priest whose incantations will conquer the ghost, the back story of an innocent woman mercilessly destroyed, the ghost’s inability to enter a temple…. In many ways, Aranmanai is like a time machine. A few scenes into the film and you find yourself transported to the 80s.

All the leading female characters (Andrea, Raai Laxmi and Hansika) have scenes that commodify their bodies. For example, when Maya (Raai Laxmi) is shown exercising, the camera zooms in. In another scene, two men (Sundar C and Santhanam) are hiding in her room when she comes out of her bath and all it takes is a carefully placed cockroach to get her to jump into an embrace. Perhaps men in love should drop their roses and pick up cockroaches instead. Selvi (Hansika) in one scene has to part with her half sari to get out of a difficult situation; Madhavi (Andrea) has to bed her husband Murali (Vinay Rai) to fulfil her ambitions, ample motive to have her walking around in a towel.

Thankfully, humour continues to be director Sundar C’s forte — remember films such as Ullathai Allitha , Winner , and even the recent Theeya Velai Seiyyanum Kumaru ? Here too, the film’s strength is Santhanam, whose presence through the film ensures plenty of laughs. The setting is right up Santhanam’s alley and he, with his trademark puns and retorts, provides much hilarity. Aranmanai , like Boss Engira Bhaskaran and Oru Kal Oru Kannadi , is possibly yet another film saved by the comedian’s presence despite some obvious flaws.

Skin shows, stock comedy, vengeful woman… Kollywood’s horror formula is well in place.

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