‘Aranmanai 4’ movie review: Despite lacking in finesse, Tamannaah anchors the best entry in the franchise

A still from ‘Aranmanai 4’ 
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Horror-comedy franchises like Aranmanai and Kanchana deserve a detailed case study; despite getting critically panned almost always, they turn out to make a considerable mark at the box-office. Considering they are the franchises with the most films in Tamil cinema, it’s a no-brainer that they are fruitful ventures. Probably the biggest grouse those who follow the franchise have is how similar tropes get upcycled for subsequent entries. An innocent woman gets mercilessly killed, causing her to turn into a ghost that haunts a huge palace, only for Sundar C’s character to restore balance by avenging the departed soul and bringing peace to the living ones. While the franchise’s latest iteration Aranmanai 4 does precisely the same, the interesting backstory that the previous films lacked makes it stand apart.

What makes Aranmanai 4 special is that it’s not just a revenge saga. Similar to the Sundar C-starrer Iruttu which was based on the concept of Jinn, the new film revolves around the Assamese folklore of Baak, a soul-grabbing, shape-shifting ghost. When it targets the family of Selvi (Tamannaah) resulting in a few deaths, it’s up to Selvi’s brother Saravanan (Sundar C) to solve the mystery and bring peace to the village and his family.

Aranmanai 4 (Tamil)

Director: Sundar C 

Cast: Sundar C, Tamannaah, Raashii Khanna, Ramachandra Raju, Yogi Babu, VTV Ganesh, Kovai Sarala

Runtime: 147 minutes

Storyline: A soul-grabbing, shape-shifting ghost troubles a family and a village, and it’s upto a lawyer to make sure justice prevails

Despite its tryst with the supernatural that ends with divine intervention, the Aranmanai films are like the villains of Scooby Doo. Categorised under the horror-comedy genre — behind the ineffective masks of scares and humour — are sentiment and emotions that make the franchise work. How far would one go to protect their loved ones is the core idea of the franchise, and while it is Sundar C’s character who usually does the heavy lifting, this time around, he only assists Tamannaah who carries the film on her able shoulders. The franchise isn’t particularly known for its performances, but Tamannaah’s Selvi is arguably the most well-defined character the world of Aranmanai has seen.

ALSO READ: Reviews of Aranmanai, Aranmanai 2 and Aranmanai 3

But then, the usual tropes that didn’t work in the first three films haunt the fourth outing as well. The slapstick comedy feels extremely outdated and except for a few chuckles, the film barely holds your attention every time it deviates from the main plot (There’s a running gag involving Yogi Babu’s character indulging in a lip-lock with veteran actor Delhi Ganesh which is so unfunny that I wish I were making this up… ) Probably the busiest team behind the camera had to be the stunt people who manage the rope work; be it the serious scenes where the ghost throws people around or the comedy ones involving characters getting electrocuted, they all end up gaining some quality air time!

A still from ‘Aranmanai 4’ 

A still from ‘Aranmanai 4’ 
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

There is also a slew of content that’s inspired by the superhero films of the West. In one scene, the apparition transforms into a Venom-like creature, there’s a scene straight out of Doctor Strange and the final action showdown reminds one of the scaffolding fight scene from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The fact that the film’s most hilarious scene features the Avengers theme music says a lot about how subtle (not) the inspirations are handled.

Nevertheless, Sundar C makes a much-needed comeback with his most intriguing addition to the Aranmanai series. Taking in the criticism his recent films have faced, he completely tones down on the glamour quotient and comes up with an almost well-rounded entertainer. The veteran filmmaker makes the necessary tweaks not just to stay relevant, but also to give the best film of the franchise in its fourth outing; a cameo from two of Tamil cinema’s best dancers is the icing on the cake!

Aranmanai 4 is currently running in theatres

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