Synopsis: An alcoholic cop accepts to investigate a case involving a couple of gruesome murders. Will the case be the redemption that he was waiting for?
Review: As it happened with Papanasam, a remake of the director's Drishyam, the Tamil remake of his Memories, is also tonally different from the original. That film was as much an emotional drama as it was an investigative thriller — it was about a cop who let his wife and child get killed before his eyes, and how he gets his chance at redemption when he is handed a case involving a 'serial killer'. Director Arivazhan takes this plot, underplays the redemption arc and turns Aarathu Sinam into a murder mystery that also happens to have a tragedy as a sub-plot. This treatment adds pace to the plot but robs the film of the psychological and religious layers, and turn it into a typical thriller.
That said, the film manages to keep us engaged from start to finish. The director is no stranger to an investigative thriller (his debut film, Eeram was one till its interval point), and nicely sets up the mystery. The film opens with assistant commissioner Aravind leading an encounter operation, and then cuts to four years later when we see a kidnapping that turns into a murder. A similar murder happens a few months later and the joint commissioner brings in Aravind, who is now an alcoholic after his wife and child are killed by the gangster who got to live after the encounter that we saw at the star, to help the investigation. The cop soon sees clues that the others don't and surmises that the murders are being committed by an individual who is taking revenge on a gang of women for a sin they had committed by in the past. Can Aravind stop him before he loses another person who is close to him?
Aarathu Sinam is not a frame-by-frame remake unlike many of the recent Malayalam remakes and some of the changes that the director has made to the plot work and make better sense in the context of the milieu where he sets his story. The reason why the gangster involved in the initial shootout gains even more credibility here (even the setting where he takes his revenge seems right here). The inter-religious marriage angle also is interesting and adds another layer to the guilt that Aravind has for letting his wife get killed (she had chosen to leave her parents to marry him). And he smartly lets the investigation scenes untouched as Jeethu Joseph's plot was tighter in these scenes. He also abandons the alcoholic angle after a while and this aids his lead actor Arulnithi as it rids him of the pressure to match up to what Prithviraj had done in the original. Visually, the film is more stylish than the original (cinematographer Aravinnd Singh continues in his Demonte Colony form) and Thaman's background score gives it a sense of continuous momentum.
It is only when it veers off its main plot that Aarathu Sinam feels like a lesser film. Visually, the scenes inside Aravind's home, especially the ones involving his brother, have a TV serial-like quality to them. The scenes involving Robo Shankar, who plays an assistant commissioner who is handed the case first, feel misjudged. The character is someone who has joined the force after being inspired by cop movies ("Cinema police" as a character puts him), and he uses popular cop movie dialogues as his lines. His initial scenes with Charlie (who appears as a fellow cop), in fact, remind us of Janakaraj and RS Shivaji in Apoorva Sagodharargal and Thaman's theme for this character, too, implies the same. In the original, this character had an officious quality about him, and Arivazhagan seems to have tried to make him more entertaining. But, his decision to turn this guy into a comedian feels misplaced. It makes the film's tone uneven by cutting into the in-built tension in the plot. The fisticuff between the hero and the villain in climax also feels wrong, and Gaurav Narayanan, who plays the murderer, is so hammy that he doesn't convey the character's motivation for his crimes properly.