Aranmanai 2 is set in a temple town. A group of sinister men unleash an evil power when the temple’s deity goes into his yearly hibernation. The evil spirit goes straight to the Aranmanai (mansion), and attacks the head of the family. Murdering him would have made the ghost’s plans easier. But, the ghost leaves the old man in coma, and cools its heels. It stands behind (and over) people and spooks them, casts creepy shadows on the mansion’s walls aimlessly, and roams around the house at night. In one scene, when two comedians (Soori and his accomplice) try to trick the ghost, she plays along. Because Aranmanai’s evil spirit is someone who prefers brainless fun over matter. Nor is this ghost particularly smart. When she needs to quickly get somewhere, she takes a van.
Sundar C’s Aranmanai 2 repeats what its prequel Aranmanai did – make the horror genre a laughing stock. Thanks to the presence of stars like Siddharth, Trisha and Hansika, the film might pass as halfway decent. But, from the ghostly antics to the costumes of the lead pair, everything in the film is silly. Every five minutes, Soori, Kovai Sarala and Mano Bala show up to mouth poor jokes and make funny faces. But what really cracks up the audience are the film’s dialogues, visual effects, and the storyline.
All three female leads, Trisha, Hansika and Poonam Bajwa, appear in skimpy clothes and chiffon sarees, providing ample skin-show. In one scene, Poonam Bajwa asks Soori to read her palm. The camera is placed behind her, its gaze fixed on her bare belly. This is a film that indulges in voyeurism, even in everyday situations.
The story goes: a pregnant woman and her husband are brutally murdered by her family. The woman, who was too weak to fight her oppressors when she was alive, comes back as a vengeful spirit and haunts the mansion which used to be her home. The basic premise sounds reasonable. A (dead) woman rising against injustice. But Aranmanai 2 prefers to be an unintentional horror-comedy, an arbitrary show of ghosts, priests and bad VFX.
In 2005, director P Vasu had remade the classic Malayalam pycho-horror-thriller, Manichathrathazhu, in Tamil as Chandramukhi. That remake failed the essence of the original film. Manichathrathazhu had a complex script exploring feminist themes and mental disorder, in the backdrop of an ancestral mansion in a sleepy village. Chandramukhi, in contrast, was a circus of tacky costumes, bad visual effects, and poor performances. The Aranmanai franchise, in every way, resembles these films. Sundar C, like P Vasu, has the money and means to make a regular Kollywood pot-boiler, and displays neither the will nor the imagination to make anything more intelligent than that.
At a time when a younger generation of film makers in Kollywood are coming up with well-made horror films like Maya, Pisaasu and Demonte Colony, Aranmanai 2 looks like a grinch in a hip Bengaluru pub. Out of place and awkward.
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