If I tell you that a film is about a man who avenges the death of his younger sister using techniques from religious manuscripts, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking of Anniyan. But that’s also the story of Aaruthra, directed by and starring Pa Vijay.
With a claim that it’s based on true incidents, Aaruthra wants to be a film that speaks about child abuse — something Asuravatham also recently touched upon.
Its protagonist, Siva (Pa Vijay), despite working in his uncle’s antique shop for a living, goes around schools to lecture about good touch and bad touch.
But the film doesn’t really match up to its lofty goals, especially given the way it treats its women, and how it looks to capitalise on Mottai Rajendran by giving him the biggest introduction scene.
Detective Aavudaiyappan (K Bhagyaraj in what seems to be a spoof of his own role in 1985’s Naan Sigappu Manithan) is constantly surrounded by skimpily-clad women, whom the veteran director-actor ogles at. In one instance, while Aavudaiyappan is eyeing a woman, his assistant (Rajendran) quips, ‘Aayave paathale vaaiye polapaaru, ithule paaya vere’. In another scene, Aavudaiyappan eats a buffet of dishes predominantly made up of drumsticks before getting into the bedroom, only for his assistant to rest his ear on the door and creepily smile at what he hears (I wish I was joking). Oh, and there’s a song that goes, ‘Mama mama, I’m your munimma’. And if all that sexism weren’t enough, the trusty Watson rip-off Rajendran is often called Blackie by Aavudaiyappan’s wife.
Rajendran’s character isn’t the only call-back to Sherlock. Remember the scene from A Scandal in Belgravia where Sherlock bends down to see the insides of a car only for the scene to change when he stands back up? We get the same scene here with our very own Bhagyaraj. We also have an imitation of the text that appears on screen when Sherlock is examining a scene for clues. Of course, it’s wrong to expect much originality from a film that considers throwing underwear on people to be humorous.
At regular intervals we see a masked vigilante choosing different locations to carry out his killings and his choice varies from arid deserts to freezing mountaintops. While there are details like the use of an oxygen can in the latter scene, to make these scenes believable, the shoddy VFX undoes everything. That said, the idea behind choosing the locales and the religious connections using the five elements of nature are interesting (even if it does remind us of Angels & Demons).
The screenplay is the biggest letdown. With the inconsistent mood of the film, the predictability of each scene, and all the unwanted songs, the big reveal right before the intermission (which is also predictable) only gets a muted response. That there will be a flashback is a given, and what happens in this flashback (in which SA Chandrasekhar is wasted), too, is pretty obvious.
Considering this is a film that speaks about the safety for children and the importance of sex education, the above-mentioned reasons and the gruesome murders (one features a man getting impaled with 112 nails), make it a film that one wouldn’t want their children to see. On the whole, Aaruthra is a product of lazy storytelling that borrows liberally from other films and hopes that pegging it on a current issue will make it work. Well, unfortunately, it doesn’t.