Director: Sai Shekar
Cast: Siddharth, Catherine Tresa
It’s a little difficult to talk about Aruvam without spoilers. But here is an attempt. At the most basic level — and the film is basic to a fault — Aruvam is a revenge drama. The film, like many of the recent potboilers in Tamil, mixes an ‘issue’ with some awkward messaging to go with it. Thankfully, it’s not the millionth farmers’ plight based Tamil film. Possibly because it will be extremely odd to see Siddharth in a field with a shovel. There is actually a sequence where he is a painter going around the city in a cycle. The idea is so incongruous that the rug-pulling from under feet effect it tries to convey never quite works. Aruvam is about adulteration in food products and it has garden variety villains — top businessmen with all the money and political clout. It doesn’t go very far with this plot. It doesn’t point fingers at anyone or take any overarching stand about the issue at hand. Director Sai Shekar gets together a group of men in cahoots, all of them paper-thin in characterization, and there is never real conflict in the script that the protagonists are trying to solve.
Aruvam places all its bets on the ‘twist’. The twist arrives at around the midpoint. Everything before is a pain to sit through and if you didn’t see the twist coming, it would make you sit up and take notice for about a minute or two. If you saw it coming, then you really have nothing to look forward to. The antagonists form a corrupt collective, something we’ve seen before in Shankar’s “I”. And here again, there is a single person they’ve wronged. Vikram there played some kind of a superhuman while Aruvam plays it up as a supernatural thriller. But what it does to get there is embarrassing. Catherine Tresa plays Jyothi, a teacher at a government school. Aruvam, while giving Jyothi a bigger part to play in the film’s mechanics than the average Tamil film, nonetheless suffers from its worst clichés. Jyothi is drawn as an angel, nicest human being you’ll find this side of the hemisphere. Her first shot has her stopping short of stepping on a swarm of red ants. You see, she can’t harm even the ones that inflict pain on humans for sport. There is a shot of Jyothi crossing the road, also the first time our hero Jagan (Siddharth) sets his eyes on her. Pity there’s no blind man for her to help but she did free a parrot from the cage of a fortune teller. Points to Sai Shekar for creativity.
At the same time, Sai Shekar comes up with the zaniest of subplots. Some Indian American scientist is called on to identify a murderer from a strand of hair. In an offhand moment, he throws in some Indian chest-beating for this dubious technology, along with a transphobic deduction. I now realise I may have spectacularly failed in writing this review without spoilers. A failure as spectacular as Aruvam’s.
The Aruvam review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.