The spirit of Shankar possesses this week’s other Tamil release as well, though Aarathu Sinam is more of a serial-killer thriller, a remake of Jeethu Joseph’s Malayalam film Memories. Corpses keep turning up, and Assistant Commissioner Arvind (a lifeless Arulnithi) has to stop the killings. But first, he has to overcome his alcoholism. Like every self-respecting movie lush, Arvind sits not at a table but on a stool by the bar. “One large,” he tells the bartender, who informs him that they’re closed. Arvind makes a scene. He’s thrown out. Instead of finding a fresh way to stage this scene which was a cliché in 1938, director Arivazhagan plays it straight. He treats it as though it’s never been seen before on screen. When Arvind is given the case, he refuses. Like every self-respecting movie lush, he’d rather wallow in painful memories. But then he visits his wife’s grave, and some of the flowers he’s placed are picked up by the wind and deposited on his face – like a kiss, or a blessing from beyond. The next morning, he’s looking for clues.
Maybe something got lost in the translation, but there’s no mood, no atmosphere, no white-knuckle tension in Aarathu Sinam. There’s just plot. And big swatches of explanatory dialogue – people keep talking as though a switch went on, and they just won’t stop. It isn’t even conversation. It’s just information. Arvind’s mother asks him to take her to church. Why not allow the scene to breathe, keep us wondering why? But the next second, she’s telling Arvind (and us) why. Characters come and go – a journalist who doesn’t believe in research, a cop who doubts Arvind, a suspect who worked as a driver for one of the victims. A heavily made-up Aishwarya Rajesh reminds us, grimly, that one Kaaka Muttai does not a Kollywood career make. Even the serial killer’s motive is underwhelming. And he won’t shut up either.
- Aarathu Sinam = unquenchable anger
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