Velayilla Pattathari 2 (VIP 2) rides high on nostalgia. There’s Raghuvaran (Dhanush) longing for his “single and young-u” life and pining for his dead mother (who makes a predictable appearance somewhere in the middle) and there is Vasundhara, played by Kajol, who is lost in the memories of her dead parents.
And the audience for Anirudh Ravichander’s music. There’s no disputing the fact that Sean Roldan is a fine talent. But, this film with its unapologetically ‘mass’ spirit needed Anirudh’s oeuvre.
Roldan’s music, on the other hand, seems out of place. The composer is more at home in indie projects like Power Paandi than a film like VIP 2.
In this film, however, he is not the only fish out of water.
Dhanush has written the script, naturally there’s a lot of focus on the emotional development and conflicts that his character goes through. This also means that the other characters are reduced to mere props. Samuthirakani is around to give Dhanush bad advice and keep him from sliding down whenever he gets inebriated. Hrishikesh is there to lift him up and take him away when he gets drunker. Kajol is the person with whom Dhanush has to spar with. And Amala Paul is there to lend a shoulder when Dhanush loses his job, and is back to being a velaiyilla pattathari.
Apart from a song where Amala is suddenly a ‘iraivi‘ (goddess), she spends most of her screen time being the pei, pisaasu (ghost) of the household — a caricature of a housewife — shrill and perpetually dissatisfied. Amala’s Shalini leaves behind a thriving dental career to focus on her wifely duties. It’s a tough call, yes. Dhanush treats this character and the other women in the film with little to no sensitivity, reducing them to caricatures, when their roles could have been stronger.
This film is also an example that a female director alone cannot ensure that a film treats its women with respect. Soundarya Rajinikanth is at the helm of things here, and yet, she allowed her male lead to spout misogyny and mansplain stuff. There’s little of her directorial capabilities visible in the film. If at all, this film seems to follow the same trajectory that VIP did.
There is also the obligatory long monologue from Dhanush, in case we forget that he did the same thing in the original. This time around, he mansplains to an indulgent Kajol how she should and should not live her life.
It’s no fun, and only comes across as the insecure ramblings of a young man in awe of the so-called vamp’s better education and professional success.
The final straw is perhaps the ridiculous way Dhanush force fits himself into the Chennai flood relief efforts. His face has been (badly) photoshopped in images that have the real flood rescue stars. It’s not inspiring in the least, and only caps off a self-important, vanity project of a film that explains that ambitious, successful women need to stay humble to be accepted by men.
It’s not a lesson young girls need right now.
That said, the film has several laugh out loud moments, courtesy Dhanush and the reliable Vivekh. Their camaraderie has proven effective over several film projects. And this film is no exception. Roldan’s background score may not have that loud, punchy appeal of Anirudh’s but it does the job.
Dhanush’s entry, however, is unlike that of a typical mass actor.
The real movie star moment, is accorded to Kajol, an actress beloved to the Tamil film industry, even though she starred in only one film — the iconic Minsaara Kanavu. Kajol makes her entry much before Dhanush. Cinematographer Sameer Thahir gives her a hero’s welcome — one high heeled shoe pops out, followed by the other. She flicks her hair, and walks into a sea of reporters. In a red jumpsuit, her first onscreen appearance is pure dynamite. She’s arrogant, successful and in-your-face. Sadly, Dhanush gives her character a build-up, only to drag her down later.
Dhanush does women a great disservice. The idea behind casting a strong, powerful woman as his nemesis was to explore the gray shades between right and wrong.
As he explained in a recent interview:
“From my point of view, something you do may seem wrong, but from yours, I may seem wrong. Just because we don’t share the same wavelength, it does not mean that one person is the hero and the other is the villain. Same way, Kajol madam’s character in the film has some attributes that put her in direct conflict with my character (Raghuvaran). That’s all. We cannot fix her as the villain just based on this fact.”
But, he goes on to do just the opposite. Right from the beginning, Vasundhara and Raghuvaran are established as the villain and the hero respectively. There’s even a promo music video in which the duo face off in varied settings and clothes.
A film like this was always going to be seen as a male vs female battle. Dhanush is perhaps not experienced enough to avoid this. Instead, the way he has written this film, it becomes a face-off between an arrogant man and an equally arrogant woman. There’s no room for compromise. One or the other has to fail.
And, naturally, given that this is a Tamil film… the woman has to give in.
Disappointing, really, for Dhanush and his team had a real opportunity to make a difference. A woman competitor, an actress like Kajol, these are all wasted, as Dhanush chooses instead to exploit facets of his commercial persona (and that of his famous father-in-law’s) to bolster his career.
Sadly for him, this doesn’t prove to be nearly as fulfilling a movie experience, as he might have originally envisioned.
The VIP 2 review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.