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Updated: September 25, 2012 14:45 IST

Does 'Billa II' beckon?

Karthik Subramanian
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Billa II
Billa II

The first Billa made in 1980, itself a remake of Don, was a re-launch of sorts for ‘Superstar’ Rajnikanth. (The actor had renounced cinema and had gone on a hiatus of sorts when he had to be coerced back to the silver screen. So Billa is dearer to Rajnikanth fans for more reasons than one.) The second Billa in 2007, featuring Ajith Kumar and made by director Vishnuvardan, was spoken as a tribute to Rajnikanth; and though by no means could it achieve the cult status of the 1980 movie, it managed to be a box office success, thanks mainly to its lead actors and its highly stylised treatment.

Now the producers have tried to milk Billa a third time at the box office. It is a prequel on how David Billa (Ajith Kumar reprising his role) becomes the dreaded mafia don. It traces the initial years of the gangster, learning his trade from the various crime circles of what is ostensibly the early 1980s.

David Billa is revealed as a Sri Lankan refugee, who arrives at the Rameswaram camp carrying scars of the ethnic war there. He quickly establishes himself as a leader of men within the camp. Thereon, the child of destiny that he is, Billa moves from one situation of providence to another, establishing himself within the crime circles of the diamond smugglers in coastal Tamil Nadu, later with the drug peddlers in Goa and eventually with the arms dealers in Russia. Towards the end, he seats himself as the emperor of a worldwide crime network and signals that it is just “the beginning”.

The treatment is darker than ever before, so much so that it is hard to imagine the last time any mainstream actor with box office appeal as much as Ajith Kumar appeared in a movie so grim and unrelenting. He deserves praise for attempting to do something that most mainstream stars would hesitate to do. But no amount of effort can pull off such a weak script.

The first half an hour of the movie is the most interesting, also the most bearable. The attention to detail at the Rameswaram refugee camp, aided by some good camerawork, manages to kindle one’s interest.

That does not last long though as the director-writer Chakri Toleti seems to have bartered character development for action sequences filled with gore. There is hardly any emotional connect with any of the characters. The script relies solely on selling the Ajith Kumar’s off-screen synergy with fans, so much so the story remains half-baked and banal.

The most successful gangster movies have relied more on scripts than stunts. But the situations in Billa II will only leave one laughing for all the wrong reasons: Billa can get stabbed one moment and stand up and pose with arms akimbo the next; he can infiltrate an army arms depot and get away with a container truck with just one sidekick; he can get the chief minister assassinated in probably the most laughable of plots; and he can go to Russia and make a mockery of the plans of an international arms dealer single-handedly. As if to prevent the audience from wondering just how bad the movie is turning out to be, the director introduces gratuitous amounts of Ajith Kumar walking in slow motion with explosions in the background.

There are plenty of gaping holes in the script. But if one can narrow it down to just two things, it would be the lack of a proper adversary pitted against a character that audience has long ago accepted as menacing. None of the villains match up in terms of characterisation. And most importantly, where is the heroine? Parvathi Omanakuttan as Jasmine, Billa’s niece, has the shortest role possible for a leading lady, appearing clueless right through. So when a henchman puts an end to her misery, don’t be surprised if the audience heaves a sigh of relief. Bruna Abdullah as the moll has more screen time than the leading lady.

Where the movie lacks in substance, it does try to score with technical aspects. The camerawork by R. D. Rajasekhar, background score by Yuvan Shankar Raja and editing by Suresh Urs are superlative for the most part. The climax stunt sequence that has Ajith Kumar and Vidyut Jamwal (Russian arms dealer) is a ripper of a sequence, but sadly the audience is completely at a loss by that time and is probably just praying for the movie to end.

The best thing about Billa II is its length, which is at least half an hour shorter than the standard for Tamil cinema. The only way to enjoy this one is to gift a friend, who is an Ajith Kumar fan, your time. Just so that he can discuss later why what you have watched is not all that bad.

Billa II

Genre: Gangster Flick

Director: Chakri Toleti

Cast: Ajith Kumar, Parvathy Omanakuttan, Bruna Abdullah, Vidyut Jamwal

Storyline: The making of Billa the don

Bottomline: Does not live up to the hype

Movie is good only for Ajith fans. He has done his given role well and
he is not the person to be blamed. Even though there is no story, there
are some technical excellence to note for the normal viewers.

from:  Divya Shankar
Posted on: Jul 17, 2012 at 12:32 IST

I found the movie thoroughly enjoyable! What, with excellent videography and commendable music, the movie is definitly a treat to movie buffs.
Now, gangster movies rarely provide intellectual thrills unless there is a highly convoluted plot. But in this case we already have one leg in Billa's future, as the sequel followed the prequel. So it's a smart move of the director, to not add too many loops. It's more for the adrenaline rushes. Besides this movie didn't have much of melodrama either.
Just deal with it and give it, to team Billa 2!

from:  sreya
Posted on: Jul 17, 2012 at 12:20 IST

I suppose only Ajith's fans, will like Billa 2..neutrals, on the other hand, would have difficulties in locating and identifying any entertainment factor in Billa 2 if there is any..Creating hype by overly playing the tune that Ajith is in it, does not make sense and I suppose hypes only serves the the way, Chakri, just because Kamal put you as the director in Unnaipol Oruvan does not mean that you are a director..please improve yourself before even considering directing another movie..Ajith can't act for me one movie he acted exceptionally well..And no, I'm not a Vijay fan..

from:  GRUTCH
Posted on: Jul 17, 2012 at 11:36 IST

i thought the movie was okay. Come on guys, admit it, no one can match it by acting for such a weak script. I can see some had prejudice about the movie before watching it. Ajith, the one strong character surrounded by a dozen of weak characters(what in god's name can he do!?). The fact that ajith was characterized as invincible is a little to much. However, we knew how the movie gonna be, if you don't like the genre, don't go watch it.

from:  sundar
Posted on: Jul 17, 2012 at 11:07 IST

Chakri Toleti did not take an effort to think about the script . he went through the one liner . As said by Karthik Subramanian the movie did not hvae a strong characterization at the end of the day none of the scene or a song will remain in your mind . Billa 2 can be watched only if you like ajith the chakri has planned and made some excellent shots just have a visual treat for the fans . Billa 2 - Not worth watching ,if u r really want to watch quality movie .

from:  Bala
Posted on: Jul 17, 2012 at 10:30 IST

No wonder why the movie is going to fail. It does not have a strong base. Audiences does not just live with Stylish actions or stunts like a hollywood photography. If Billa2 was supposed to be a prequel, then where is the connection factor? I was personally convinced to see the movie because I like Ajith and his performances. If its just all over Ajith in a movie which does not have anything else, only a die hard fan can watch it. Coming back to the prequel, director should have used Rahman wisely as he was Jagdish in Billa so that a proper connection factor could have been established. Instead he was just shown in 1 frame saying he is the interpol officer. I seriously doubt why Rahman was not utilized in this movie. And interestingly few of the sections were like Nayagan . For a hero (though a villain in this movie), he could have atleast avoided the drug scenes especially which will send a wrong perception to layman audience.
Billa2 - just a one time watch only for an Ajith fan!

from:  Santhosh
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 22:18 IST

This is a DON movie showing rise of a Don. So, expectedly there are cold blooded murders, bullets flying across screens, zero romance and no romantic songs, friendship & Loyalty, Treachery and retribution, Politics and power struggle. Surprisingly, Ajith’s dialogue delivery and very agile and swift action sequences are huge positive. Beautiful camera work, good villains and good background music makes it a near perfect cult classic movie. Ladies may not like it since it has an "A" certificate for violence. How Billa grows from a refugee to a small time crook and then gradually grows into an ambitious powder and arms dealer is narrated slowly but with impact. Ajith’s character is well described and well communicated - Ruthless man who will die for friends but will take away life of traitors. This sort of violence has to be there in any Don’s life - atleast for once when he reaches that position. So, people complaining about the violence are missing the plot.

from:  Sridhar Pichumani
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 22:18 IST

Thanks for the reviews. which made me to avoid watching the movie especially in theaters, i saved my money. once again thanks all for your valuable reviews.

from:  Sandeep Raja
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 21:52 IST

Why we should come out of our culture and should aim at taking hollywood types of movies. Ajith should focus on romance, comedy and stunt sectors instead of walking in slow motion. This movie gave more disappointment to his fans too.

from:  Shahul
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 20:00 IST

Sick and tired of these kinds of movie, only hero worshiping and his
lame punch dialouges throughout the movie. Slashing, piercing and much
more type of killing method are taught. Stop these horrible movies,
concentrate on something more natural and which can be related to
normal middle class like the superb "Engeyum Eppodhum" last year. Or
atleast take period films, we have large number of old kings, queens,
prince, princess, fairytale stories which can give superb movie along
with reminding our cultural splendour. Hope Kochadaiyan be a good
movie, instead of again punch dialouge, hero killing 10 villians with
one kick and all... Hope so.. Thanks

from:  Rakesh
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 18:27 IST

The author of this review was spot on !!
The movie had a lot of technical excellences as pointed out, bgm, cinematrograhy... However the movie failed big time on the plot. There was no continuity between on scene and the next... The director hoped that charisma of Ajith would overcome it but failed big time..

There were quite a lot of huge logic gaphole as usual. Everyone in the camp speaking normal tamil instead of Srilankan tamil. There is no way Ajith could have gotten on the helicopter on the climax...

In the end it might be a treat of Ajith fans but for other normal viewers, a waste of time and money

from:  Mukunthan
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 17:42 IST

Sridhar nailed it actually, double speak does not work. If you really want to make sense...stop watching kuthu songs, aruvalls killings, punch dialogues, comedy track, overdose of mother/sister sentiment. And THEN come here to comment( which is not possible ), we want all stuff to be watched and industry to survive including the workers. Billa2 is not a good movie niether it's worse. Why do you pan it before watching it..I am sure most of the negative comments are of people who dint watch it, except for the reviewer KB( not K Balachander ) :)

from:  Mitra Shanmugam
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 16:12 IST

Actually the critics are misguiding the people. They want Tamil Cinema
to be at the same level so that people seem to get entertained by intro
songs, comedies, romance, Kuthu songs, etc. But actually the people are
tired. Make use of your brain before you criticise. Don't be puppets for
directors who make masala films.

from:  Rahul
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 15:39 IST

Nailed it ..

from:  Jegan
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 15:29 IST

I dont like the hypocrisy here, I mean the Billa/Don of 80's can fight, kill, take multiple bullets, stabbings and live like nothing happened which we accept and this Billa cannot kill and live like what happens in contemporary style. Which of the recent masala blockbuster ever had a neat story? not that this one has...every blockbuster is a rehash of a old formula with comedians and flying cars/sumos and killing with aruval and punch dialoges. I mean cmmon give me a break, you are ready to go and watch such movies with family and coz some people like it for a hero you also believe and say 'YES YES lets go..' Utter can't expect this from Chakri Toleti and he is not Shankar or even the latest Vetrimaran. Its a Ajith movie, with flaws but not worse in any means. You are ready for aruval killing and double meaning s*x dialogues, but not ready for subject with stylised treatment with an actor with great fan following and CAN ACT.

from:  Sridhar Mayur
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 14:28 IST

Fantastic review. It is waste of time and money. To make the movie more interesting the lead actor should have performed nicely. Hero proved again that he can only walk in a suit in slow motion with explosion at the background and throw some punch dialogues. Typical thrid rated with no sense of movie making. Except for the first few scene in refugee camp the movie steps into funny moments of killing everyone till the end except hero (could have been better if he is killed and movie is shortened further). Hero should learn a lot from other actors (like vikram, surya, prasanna, and many) where they performed and excelled in recent times in tamil movie.
Bottomline : its a shame on tamil movie

from:  Rajmohan
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 13:55 IST

Why what's wrong with the movie. The expectation that all movies follow a stereotype is
what led us to a mediocre movie field. Take the movie for what it is - it is a no holds barred
action movie in the 'kill bill' genre. So if you like the genre, go watch it, else sit at home and
watch something else.

from:  Satish
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 13:31 IST

@Mani...You call movies 18/9 & Nanban dumb and Billa 2 as Amazing... Wow that clearly shows that you are a die hard fan of Ajith....18/9 is probably the best movie of the year by some margin... Nanban was a movie with a message and u did not like it since it was acted by Vijay.. The best entertainer of this year would be Naan E....Billa 2 does not make any sense... It is only for hard core ajith fans...

from:  Murali
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 12:15 IST

Watching Billa-II is a very good test to check one's tolerance.

The protagonist's philosophical (punch?!) words are not only incoherent and irrelevant, it's also very disappointing in expression. Throughout the movie, he carries a sad, sober and drowsy look.

from:  Chinnadurai Gangatharan
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 12:01 IST

Please understand one thing that AMITABH's 1980 movie DON was a superb
one and Rajnikant could not even match to that one. Further, Rajnikant
acted only in the remakes of most of Amitabh's movies in Tamil. In
those days producers had no story of their own and only copied Amitabh's
movies and remade it in Tamil for Rajni. I do not know why they can't
have their own sense to make movies.

from:  B Chandrasekharan
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 10:58 IST

The simple formula would define the movie.

"Scarface - Pathetic Screenplay + Characterization" = "Billa 2"

Hence Proved.

from:  Aravind Go
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 10:13 IST

Billa -2 ="Killing Machine with no story!!!"

from:  Manik
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 10:05 IST

Could not agree more. I have never watched any movie on the first week
of its release. This was an exception and Thoroughly disappointed. The
story line wanders with out a target. Slow paced script makes the plot
even worse. The arms container loot sequence i thought was making
mockery of the audience. overconfidence on the stardom of Mr. Ajit and
under estimation of the audience should have given director this much
courage. Probably, this movie in 90's would have been a super duper Hit.
Grow up Mr. Director.

from:  Sivakumar.K.B
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 09:36 IST

I don't know how the others think about this movie. But Ajith (for that matter all reputed actors), being a role model to many people in Tamil Nadu should refrain from acting these kind of movies. I saw this movie yesterday and could not believe that youngsters were shouting and whistling for everything a he is doing onscreen. I have a feeling that an actor with so many crazy fans acting in a negative role will give inspiration in a negative way...

This is my opinion...

from:  Murali
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 09:16 IST

Sad that these star's movies are made only for their fans.... Fans will be fans forever... so why can't make movies for general crowd atleast once in a while?

from:  Magesh
Posted on: Jul 16, 2012 at 09:07 IST

Waste of time for audience.
Waste of time for Ajith to act in this movie.
Very weak script... and the screen play don't help.

from:  Anand
Posted on: Jul 15, 2012 at 13:06 IST

Amazing movie. Ajith has to be appreciated for this character. Bold and
straight. Dumb movies like 18/9, nanban were appreciated by one and
sundries !. This is a prequel and there is a lot of limitations to it.
Watch Clone, Phantom menace and Sith. George Lucas has his hands tied
and he did deliver the goods. The movie is a blast, BGM was amazing and
Ajith excellent.

from:  mani
Posted on: Jul 15, 2012 at 09:38 IST

I thought Mankatha was the worst film anyone could make. But Ajith
belied my expectations. He went down further with Billa-2. The movie
had nothing in it. And the violence was gruesome too.

from:  Shankar V
Posted on: Jul 15, 2012 at 07:32 IST

> So dont shoot the messenger.

Sadly what most of us actually do, most of the times. Mostly because we allow emotions to always overwhelm rationality.
Catcalls in the movie halls don't represent "people's minds" either - these are just from the bunch that is there for every actor worth his name.
A movie like this - GORE to the CORE - should be shouted down, even if the technical aspects are superlative. Otherwise the irritated viewers' sentiments will get lost amidst all the din they create with their "hyped-up for the heck of it" promos. And we will get more of the same fare.
In that sense, more than a critic, it is the "duty" of a conscious viewer to save as many fellow viewers from suffering the same fate! So shout down a bad movie and make your voice heard, no matter what. Best way to do it will be through word of mouth - rather than online or through any other media.

from:  Babu
Posted on: Jul 15, 2012 at 07:06 IST

Al Pacino´s model was copied verbatim by many Indian actors starting from the great Amitab Bachan to present day Ajith Kumar. Al Pacino appeared along side Marlon Brando in Godfather 1 but he never copied Marlon Brando and established his own style. It is innovative and appealing, unlike our actors or films moving around hero actors forgetting the importance of script. Originality is sadly missing these days excepting for some artistical movies like Cancheevaram.

from:  Naithirithi T Chellappa
Posted on: Jul 14, 2012 at 20:33 IST

>They can never represent people's mind.

Neither can you, or me, being individuals ourselves. But a good critic watches much more variety of cinema than the average movie goer, and from that position, can offer a better opinion on how it fares with the best of the medium.

So don't shoot the messenger. If you want to watch a movie, by all means do so, irrespective of what other individuals say.

from:  mahesh
Posted on: Jul 14, 2012 at 17:35 IST

The story writer steals it from Al Pacino's 'Scarface'. Another

from:  sandeep
Posted on: Jul 14, 2012 at 15:35 IST

I don't understand with the criticism "not all that bad'. what the hell is that??? Critics are only critics and they are never the voice of individuals. They can never represent people's mind.

from:  srinivasan krishnan
Posted on: Jul 14, 2012 at 13:56 IST
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