Look, if there is one saving grace to this movie, or to most mediocre movies he finds himself in from time to time, its Dhanush. Like Ranbir Kapoor in Bollywood, this man can do no wrong when it comes to his on screen work. Behind the scenes, however, the measure of quality is poles apart.
Velai Illa Pattadhari 2 is a sloppily put together, unfocused mess of a film which is moderately enjoyable owing to its lead’s unyielding charisma. Explaining the plot of the film would be one the biggest undertakings I’ve had in recent memory. The film’s B-plots include everything from launching one’s own start-up to taking on the prejudice of a rich businesswoman to stopping illegal theme parks from being constructed to losing a job to dealing with your nagging wife and so on and so forth. The multiple B-plots which try to serve as many demographics as possible fatally cripple the film in one very important aspect of screenwriting; the film has no primary story.
Under a gigantic layer of the unpalatable hip-hop infused score by Sean Roldan which ushers in Raghuvaran’s return, the film chips away at one’s need to watch a film with a coherent narrative and focuses on the many bright colors and loud noises which have drained most audience’s patience with masala potboilers. Dhanush, whose previous work on the page was the surprisingly refreshing Pa Paandi, pens a story whose plotting and beats are lost under a host of admittedly humorous dialogues. These jokes aren’t wholly original (nagging wife and lost opportunity jokes are rarely effective) but the eye catching packaging it comes as a part of makes for some wholly entertaining moments.
As the film gets into the meat of the matter, it rarely focuses on anything substantial. There is a distinct lack of flow from scene to scene as plot points are left to hang out to dry with no discernable effort to weave them into the overall narrative. Antagonists come and go, resolutions are haphazardly stitched together and Raghuvaran the character acts as a savior to one too many people while the film forgets to adequately illustrate his competence and drive.
I had a sinking feeling in my stomach when I first heard that screen legend Kajol was being cast as the primary antagonist of this film. There is something laudable about ambitious casting and Kajol is an actress who is highly capable of pulling off most roles with aplomb but my fear of this being an exercise in gimmickry used to mask serious deficiencies in plot were laid bare within the first few minutes. While the original VIP had an entertaining dichotomy between the protagonist and the antagonist with both starting their lives on the work force at varying circumstances but with similar goals, the sequel fills itself with contrivances to justify character motivations and actions.
With Soundarya Rajinikanth at the helm, one would not be fault to expect a film with a certain degree of technical finesse. Her previous work 3 has a distinct style to it. But VIP 2 is aggressively bland with its visual packaging. The cinematography is flat throughout and a few slow-mo fight scenes are in no way redeeming. The excellent fight choreography and spatial awareness the original had are sorely lacking and when these flaws are combined with the aforementioned score, the recipe for a forgettable venture has been executed to a tee.
Through all these downsides, the film is rarely boring. For the lack of a better phrase, there are just way too many things happening on a constant basis. The film’s plot hopping antics make for entertaining viewing even though it lacks a sense of deftness. The film self-awareness combined with its effective self-deprecation make for popcorn entertainment which is funny as you watch it but will quite easily slip away as soon as you step out of the hall.
Films starring Dhanush are rarely unwatchable. When compared to his contemporaries, Dhanush is one of the very few big name actors who takes chances with his films while trying to essay universally relatable stories. The man has proved his mettle as a producer, actor, singer, writer, and most recently as a director. This creates a swirl of expectation when one sees his name stamped on a film. And as almost all of our beloved artists are guilty of, they always have a dud in their repertoire. VIP 2 is Dhanush’s most recent.