KGF Chapter 2 Review: Annoyingly cacophonous and noisy
In the garb of the masala, KGF2 manages to touch a raw nerve and taps the popular sentiment of the times—be it the issue of alternate, parallel governance or nepotism, privilege, poverty, and merit
There’s a car chase in the middle of Prashanth Neel’s KGF: Chapter 2 that feels like being on a simulated rollercoaster; in fact, the entire film is such. One which gives you an adrenaline rush and a dizzying high or leaves you utterly and sorely disoriented. 90 per cent of the Indian film viewers appear to belong to the former category. Unfortunately, I am the contrarian, carping minority.
For me the act of viewing the blockbuster has been all about the tough task of figuring exactly what was transpiring on screen. And not that I am not aware of or haven’t watched the prequel. At first glance, the tale of the rise of the Robinhood like Rocky, his many battles with the Establishment, the government, and his adversaries—the biggest of the villains being Adheera (Sanjay Dutt)—and his monopoly over the empire of Kolar Gold Fields appears to be simple and straightforward. It’s the telling of the surreal fantasy that lacks coherence and rationality of any kind, or at least how one has come to understand the meaning of cogency.
Haphazardly strung together characters and scenes with anyone making an entry at any point and exiting at will, jumping from one situation to another. All the mess is underlined by a protracted voiceover, jangling background score and people shouting bombastic dialogues than saying the lines to each other normally. I haven’t come across a more annoyingly cacophonous and noisy film in recent times. Then there is “rocking star Yash”, as he is described, with his characteristic beard, hair, formal pant-shirt, barely moving any facial muscle and wearing little by way of expression other than a scowl. As for the much-touted visual scale and ambition—the muddy look and clay like texture of the film barely take the breath away. Instead, they make its predecessor feel like a spot of sunshine, even though the blood and gore would be about the same measure in both.
Everything is heightened and excessive here—the action, drama, emotions, acting. And that includes the reaction of the audience as well. I saw it with an over-effusive one to say the least.
However, in the garb of the masala, KGF2 manages to touch a raw nerve and taps the popular sentiment of the times—be it the issue of alternate, parallel governance or nepotism, privilege, poverty, and merit.
There is a lot of mixed messaging that gets communicated in the process. On the one hand Rocky is masiha of the marginalized and the disenfranchised, one who breaks their chains of servility (bediyon ko toda). He is the quasi-God who helps a Muslim youngster wear his cap and say his namaaz. But none of this is elaborated upon.
Instead, it is quickly followed by some warped lessons in new-fangled morality. Rocky says that greed is good, that greed defines progress. The audience roars in approval. The oft repeated Hindi proverb about stretching your legs as per the length of the blanket (being judicious, thrifty, and prudent with money) gets reinterpreted. Don’t hesitate about stretching the legs, go for a bigger blanket instead, Rocky opines. Audience goes berserk. A political dictator is seen as a figure personifying change and hope and democracy gets roundly dismissed as ineffective. Audience doesn’t seem to get enough of it.
And not to talk of the relentless brutality and bloodshed. “Main khud ek bura sapna hoon (I am a bad dream myself),” says Rocky. He claims he doesn’t court violence, it’s violence that likes him a lot and seeks him out. “I can’t avoid it,” he says. It’s a belligerent male world with him at the centre, one which, perhaps, taps into the repressed fervour and ferocity of the young male audience. Why else would they get delirious at merely the mention of Kalashnikov? Is Rocky the vent for the pressure cooker of a life? Does it compensate for all that is not there in life? Are KGF1 and 2 a perverse catharsis? With the testosterone on screen and off it I wondered if the film is an endocrinologist’s or Freud’s delight.
So where does it leave the women? Well, at the service of the gigantic macho project. The mother is the initiator, one who makes Rocky who he is. Otherwise, women for him are, as Rocky himself puts it, are “entertainment”. One such “entertainment” he is in pursuit of, called Reena (Srinidhi Shetty with perennially knit brows), must mandatorily fall in love with him, while he would turn her protector and saviour and eventually the husband. The other face of womanhood that is celebrated is of the angry Goddess Kali. Indeed, the film is all about looking back in anger. I wonder how much of it will spill over to the next in the franchise now.