Aaraathu Sinam (Tamil) — Crime & Addiction

Crime fiction is an addiction. As an avid reader of this genre, I can attest to that. One of the best sub-genres in this is the tale of the tortured detective. Usually, it’s a cathartic experience for the detective to brave through his battle with his daemons, while fighting crime, the battle is usually with painful memories, addiction, or addiction to erase painful memories, or pure addiction. Best example of a brilliant detective who wades through his addiction while solving cases is that of Sherlock Holmes (in his case Cocaine and Morphine), and that detail actually adds allure to his stories. We can see countless examples in popular crime fiction like Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder(some of the books were made into movies), Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole, Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus, and James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux, all of them, solving cases while fighting their addiction or withdrawal symptoms. It’s not just the crime they are fighting, they are fighting with the world and themselves, and that incompleteness or imperfection gives the character something to aspire to and creates a story arc that arches across multiple works, usually a series of books or movies. In a typical feature length film, the addiction, the fight and the (usually cathartic) recovery cannot be explained sufficiently, but given the nature of our Indian movies, the idea of a movie franchise is not very popular, standalone movies do try that. ‘Aarathu Sinam’ is such a film.

Aarathu Sinam (Anger won’t subside — paraphrasing the popular Ovvaiyar’s Aathichudi “Aaruvathu Sinam”, of course) is a very sincere attempt at remaking of an excellent Malayalam thriller by Jeethu Joseph, and the filmmakers succeeded in creating a gripping film, thankfully not a shot by shot remake, although the screenplay is heavily influenced by the original. Aarathu Sinam is the story of Aravind, a drunkard cop who is roped in to solve a mystifying series of killings. How Aravind sees the clues with his sharp insight and helps solve the case forms the crux of the story. For those who read and watch western crime fiction, the lack of most simplest police work from state police force would seem illogical, for example, scouring the crime scene for footprints, car tire tracks, car paint chips, checking the suspicious markings found on victims’ bodies, or even profiling the perpetrator. For people who are keeping track, in most of the western countries there are forensic databases of all these and every police department has access to these databases. These are basics in any police investigation (at least as per the rules of fiction), and the protagonist has to ride on his wagon (or off his wagon, I can’t ever seem to get this right!) and play the role of a CSI technician, analyst, profiler and the SWAT team and take all the glory. But of course, it’s the hallmark of any good detective story, so we need to go with the flow.

Arulnithi is improving with every film, and he plays the brooding character to a T, and his usual subtle acting works best for this character, in the original, Prithiviraj couldn’t not appear as handsome even when he was unkempt. Here, Arulnithi does a great job and he carries the story on his shoulders instead of letting the story direct him. The supporting cast has done an adequate job, although Robo Shankar’s ‘movie clichéd’ cop comedy felt forced, not resulting in any laughs. Radha Ravi and Charlie breezed through their respective roles owing to their experience.

Arivazhagan who debuted with the excellent thriller Eeram, directed this movie from the original story of Jeethu Joseph. It’s no surprise that tales like these come from the Malayalam industry and the story and screenplay really reflects maturity and avoids any masala distractions. The background score and the couple of montage songs blend into the movie very well, especially the BGM during the initial sequence of Arulnithi’s intro is amazingly done and reminds you of Kaakkha Kaakkha. The final sequence where the hero saves the day by rescuing the victim, by slaying the antagonist and his daemons reminds you of many of the Hollywood or Indian movies you would’ve seen but both the intro and climax sequences form perfect bookends to a good thriller.

Not to nitpick, but the screenplay could’ve been a little bit more racy, but as I said in the beginning, one movie which has to handle both the crime and the protagonist’s struggle has to make some compromise so it doesn’t really spoil the entire experience.

Aaaraathu Sinam — Crime & Addiction (with apologies to the ghost of Dostoevsky)

Written On Mar 29, 2016

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Bhaskar Gandavabi

Bhaskar Gandavabi

I love to build software and write.

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