Sangili Bungili Kadhava Thorae: A moderate entertainer saved by its final stretches

It is said that well begun is half done. I’d posit that when it comes to films, well ended is half done. This is a big reason why Sangili Bungili Kadhava Thorae will likely go down as a competent horror-comedy. Towards the end, things come together better than you anticipate, and in a way, it’s only fitting I guess, considering that the film itself is about things coming together, or more specifically, people living together. While I’m generally rather wary of films with a message, here, this ‘message’ helps to separate it from the other half-a-dozen-a-month aimless horror-comedies that come our way.

This film too is about a haunted mansion, but with plenty of emotion woven in. In most haunted house stories, on some level, you wonder why the residents aren’t making a beeline for the exit, after they become aware that their room-mate is a supernatural entity with a tendency to make freaky noises at midnight. In Sangili… though, writer (and director) Ike establishes quite early on that the mansion is the dream house of Vasu (Jiiva), and that he’s spent his life’s savings on it. He’d much rather live with a rotting corpse of a ghost than leave it.

Sangili Bungili Kadhava Thorae
Genre: Horror
Director: Ike
Cast: Jiiva, Radharavi, Sri Divya, Soori
Storyline: A man finally purchases the house of his dreams, only to realise that it has a supernatural inmate

But till its final portions redeem it, Sangili… plays like another uninspired horror comedy that has nothing new to say. The ghost likes to peep at night. There’s a small creepy boy who likes to play with a ball. There are the usual powercuts, the usual jumpscares that rely more on the loudness of the background score than on anything visual. There’s the comedian (Soori, in this case) whose scared antics entertain reasonably. There’s even a rushed love angle that never affects, even though the background score often makes fervent pleas for the contrary. There’s even a TASMAC song towards the end. That’s how little is new about Sangili, until…

Things begin to look up, mainly on account of a couple of well-written moments. In the first, Vasu confronts the ghost with an Annamalai-inspired monologue. The setting of the bungalow is quite similar. He even begins and ends his diatribe with lines from the Rajini film. It also works because the ghost is played by Radharavi.

The second is a better moment, and has members of Vasu’s family clinging to each other for dear life, literally. It’s a sweet little scene, and a reminder of the increasingly-forgotten warmth of living in a joint family. These moments go a long way in salvaging the film. I also liked that Vasu, in a fit of fury, asks the ghost that which we have wanted to, every time another uninspired haunted house story comes our way: “Peikku edhukku veedu?”

In a more powerful film, I’d problematise the opening scene with Vasu and Swetha (Sri Divya), in which he catches her drinking and says women are at home when they are drawing water from pumps, not when they are drinking alcohol. He puns on the word ‘thanni’. In a more serious film, I’d indicate my annoyance at the tasteless dig at an animal activist in a scene, as part of which Vasu calls a dog, “Naai sir.” In a more story-driven film, I’d point out the inconsistency of showing the ghost kill a labrador at the beginning, considering it establishes the said ghost as ‘good’ later on. In a more powerful film, I’d point out that one of the scares—Vasu peeping under the bed at Swetha’s behest, only to find another Swetha under it, asking him to be scared of whoever is on the bed—isn’t original, and is a rip-off of a popular Reddit two-line horror story. But Sangili… isn’t a serious enough, sincere enough, moving enough film to warrant such analysis. I imagine that we should just be grateful that at least this horror comedy cared to have some original moments, and more importantly, a purpose at its core. Who knows if the next will?

This review was written for The New Indian Express. All copyrights belong to the organisation. Do link to this page if you’d like to share this review.

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