Cast: Vishal, Rajkiran, Keerthy Suresh, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar
Sequels in Tamil cinema seems to be the fad and what the underwhelming history has proven is that sequels are an easier bet when compared to a fresh script, especially if an actor or a director is in dire need of a hit. Considering Vishal’s last film Irumbu Thirai is his most successful yet, it’s no surprise that Sandakozhi 2 is more of a comeback to its director Lingusamy, whose last film four years backs, Anjaan, was nothing short of a fiasco.
As someone who loves it focus on a few details, I tend to compare how many years have passed in a sequel film since its original film to real time. Though the original Sandakozhi came out in 2005, in Sandakozhi 2, it’s only been seven years since the incidents of the first part. Nothing much has changed in the lives of Balu (Vishal) and Durai Ayya (Rajkiran) apart from Balu’s girlfriend from the original film, not being a part of his life anymore for reasons which aren’t clearly explained. This time the threat comes in the form of Pechi (Varu) and her family for a frivolous reason that’s blown out of proportion.
Similar to the original film, the actual story is pretty thin and hence, we get to see more of the lead’s family and what they mean to the people around them. A number of scenes reestablish the fact that Durai Ayya is still the deciding factor for the 7 villages in Theni. Instead of the simple yet satisfying scenes such as the one where Balu spends time in Hema’s (Meera Jasmine) house in the first film, we’re rather introduced to the core story immediately. For the lighter moments, we’re left with Sembaruthi (Keerthy Suresh), a loud-mouthed simpleton who doesn’t need much convincing to start dancing out of nowhere. Her over the top persona, which often touches the border of annoyance, seems to be an extension of Hema’s character, which sort of explains why Balu is drawn towards her at the first place. And oh there’s also the ‘she doesn’t know his true identity and considers him to be an average joe’ track. Talk about showing us something we’ve never seen! Moreover, what’s with Balu having a thing for daughters of teachers? Varu’s character, on the other hand, seems to be more of an extension of every other villainess in Tamil cinema. She’s extremely loud, vents enough anger through her eyes that can melt boulders and says something in the lines of how one such woman is equal to many men when going head-on with the hero. Speaking about the women of this franchise, we don’t get to see any women from the Durai Ayya’s family.
Even the conflict doesn’t put much on stake for Balu and his family because it almost doesn’t get personal between them and the baddies. The edge of the seat anticipation on what Lal’s character in the original film would do next and moments such as when he calls someone for help only to know about Balu’s heritage or the scene where he flings a sickle towards Balu only for it to slice through a banana tree are missed terribly. Moreover, the ‘build-up’ scenes in the first part felt organic and considering Vishal’s position today, it seeps past the hero worship territory and sort of brushes his real-life persona. In his surprisingly simple introduction scene in an airport, he bypasses the celebratory welcome only to get into a cab to tell the bewildered driver how he doesn’t like such treatments. In another scene, after making a temporary ‘sacrifice’, he’d mouth about how people indulging in service to the public, shouldn’t mind their personal lives going kaput.
Despite such drawbacks, Sandakozhi 2 does have its moments that not only remind us about the best parts of the original film but also teases the masala film lover in you (particularly the action sequences). The wafer-thin storyline is streched with quite a few enjoyable scenes, especially in the first half. Though the initial reason for the conflict happens to be caste, the film intelligently stays away from speaking about it. Yuvan’s Kambathu Ponnu track is my pick and since the overall album is pretty good, songs don’t hinder the flow. The climax too is sort of similar to its predecessor but the way it finishes feels satisfactory though I don’t really agree with the social stereotypes it tries to highlight. On the whole, Sandakozhi 2, though can’t match with the intensity of its original film, maintains the essence of the franchise, thereby making it a film you won’t regret watching.