‘KGF: Chapter 2’ Review: A terrific Yash powers an explosive sequel

Express News Service

Four years ago, the makers of KGF: Chapter 1 made a promise. A promise of making the biggest Kannada film that will reach new avenues and newer audiences. And today, they are back with KGF: Chapter 2, and if the responses are anything to go by, the promise has been kept. Written and directed by Prashanth Neel, who is a superstar in his own right, the KGF films have grasped the entire nation’s consciousness and reinvented the time-tested story of an underdog coming on top surmounting all odds. But then, when the underdog in question is the seemingly invincible Rocky Bhai (Yash), every element of the masala template is dialled up to astronomical levels. 

The second part continues right from where the first part ends. We now see the “pillars” of Narachi being forced to accept Rocky as their new boss. Of course, this leads to resentment across the board, and it is clear that betrayals will be hitting Rocky left, right, and centre. But we don’t watch KGF for the ingenuity of the plot, but for inventiveness in the making. Whenever we think a high point of a particular conflict is reached, it is almost like Prashanth is giving a lopsided smile hinting as if it was just the tip of an iceberg. This is something that happens on more than one occasion and is a testament to the impact of the writing. For instance, in other films, the meeting of Adheera and Rocky might have been the ideal climactic showdown. 

However, here we have three brilliant sequences featuring them where there is an oscillation of power, and each of these scenes delivers the grandeur and intensity that KGF will forever be known for. Another facet of KGF that will be always associated with the franchise is hyper-stylised violence. While there is a lot to discuss where the film falls on the moral spectrum, the arresting visual style of the film masks such thought processes during its runtime.

A lot of such questions do arise while watching KGF 2, the primary of which is the terribly underwritten female lead. With Srinidhi Shetty’s Reena suffering from a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome, one can’t help but feel bad about her character sketch. It is troubling because even smaller roles like the one played by Easwari Rao get a neatly rounded arc. Surely Reena and Srinidhi deserved better. 

The film also almost runs the risk of feeling bloated, especially in the pre-interval portions, because there are a lot of layers being packed in too quick a time. There are one too many villains, and one too many crisscrossing storylines. Even the final few minutes of the film left a vacuous feeling because I wasn’t sure if it did justice to the events that transpired across two films and eight years. 

However, the towering performance of Yash ensures these are just fleeting thoughts and we don’t really dwell on them because the actor, in supreme form, keeps us hooked on his brand of nonchalance acting. More than his playful turns, it is the emotional beats that are most effective, and the rage-filled eyes of Yash say more than what he does in his trademark broken English. And these dialogues not just add to the constant undercurrent of humour, but also has noteworthy lines that can go right on motivational posters. Sample this, “Greed is good… Greed is progress…” Yes, it is, Rocky Bhai. Another writing highlight of KGF: Chapter 2 is how a buildup song in this edition also acts as a quick narration of the first part. It checks both the ingenious and inventive boxes. Of course, there is no point discussing the logic, or the lack of it, of this film, which always stays true to the world created by Prashanth Neel. 

The brilliant technical team conjures mesmerising visuals to keep us invested in the world of KGF. Keeping the colour palette to a minimum, cinematographer Bhuvan Gowda gives us some stunning visuals that capture the grandeur of the project without really showboating. No aspect of this opulence feels wasted or overboard. Be it the vast expanses of the mines or the never-ending shots of an array of vehicles including cars, planes, ships, bikes, helicopters etc… every visual element of KGF stands tall. If there is showboating of any sort, it is in the editing by Ujwal Kulkarni. And even here, the work might seem excessive, but in an over-the-top world of KGF, it fits in perfectly. 

Three other technicians who truly elevate KGF: Chapter 2 are composer Ravi Basrur (the chest-thumping background score), art director Shivakumar (the tasteful coronation stairs, the greyness of the mines, and more), and stunt choreographers Anbariv (every scene involving Yash brandishing weapons, the car sequences, and more). Àlmost every high moment of KGF: Chapter 2 is the collaborative work of each department, and it is wonderful to see how each of them worked like clockwork to deliver this grand spectacle.

The concept of pan-Indian movies might have now been reduced to a gimmick in most cases, but the KGF franchise is a true-blue example of this developing trend. The success of the first part pushed the makers to dream bigger, and they managed to rope in names like Sanjay Dutt, Raveena Tandon, Rao Ramesh, and Prakash Raj to lend necessary gravitas to roles that were already hyped up. Sanjay Dutt is menacing as Adheera, the primary antagonist, and writer-director Prashanth treats him with the right amount of respect. Adheera has moments that place him ahead of Rocky Bhai, and the same holds good for Raveena’s Ramika Sen. Both actors ace the roles that don’t just exist to do lip service to the larger-than-life lead character. 

Replacing Anant Nag was never going to be an easy task, but points to the writing that seamlessly introduces Prakash Raj into the mix. There is a fascinating mix of humility and pride in his baritone as he delivers the narration. Although the film boasts of such big names, KGF: Chapter 2 never loses focus on what it is actually about — Yash and Rocky Bhai — and it is the relentless attempts at elevating the star at the centre of it all that gives us a fantastic film that proves the world will always be accepting of one more “mother sentiment” film. 

At an important juncture in KGF: Chapter 2, Rocky asks his detractors to avoid pointless conversations about him keeping to his territory. He announces, “The World is my territory”, and if the response to an early morning show of the Tamil version of the film is anything to go by, we have an outsider breaking down walls to become the most unlikely pan-Indian superstar… or as he’d like it… Pan-India’s ONLY Rocking Star.

Film: KGF: Chapter 2
Director: Prashanth Neel
Cast: Yash, Sanjay Dutt, Raveena Tandon, Srinidhi Shetty, Achyuth Kumar

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