There is something outlandish yet gorgeous about the K.G.F franchise that they no longer make such films. That they no longer imagine scenes propelled by absolute madness. After all, K.G.F films are written on steroids.
There is a moment in K.G.F: Chapter 2, where Rocky Bhai (a rocking Yash, bathed and cleansed in masculine orgy) takes a machine gun out to blow up a police station, in the garb of a “field test”. With a cigarette hanging from his lip, he fires aimlessly to show his prowess as bullets zoom past the station and everything in between. Bullet casings drop to the ground and Bhai walks in slow-motion to light up his cigarette from the gun’s nozzle with an equally electrifying background score by Ravi Basrur.
There, in that one single shot, Prashanth Neel highlights what the K.G.F films are for: to create a delirious cinematic experience, where there is barely any time for us to contemplate logic and sense. There is only one way to look at K.G.F for it to work for you and that is to partake in the madness it offers — from scene to scene; one set piece to another; one giddy stunt choreography to the next.
The most amazing achievement of Prashanth Neel has got to be the marrying of the Hollywood motifs from influential figures — Coppola, Scorsese, Mel Gibson to Peter Jackson and George Miller — with masala flourishes from Indian filmmakers. This meeting of the two worlds is powerful and visceral, even if it remains just a possibility throughout. Let me illustrate this marriage with the most terrific scene of K.G.F Chapter 2 which concerns Bhai but isn’t about him.
Reena (played by Srinidhi Shetty) attempts to convey to Bhai that she is pregnant with his child. She doesn’t straight away tell him but drops hints that Bhai, who is preoccupied with business, doesn’t catch. Now, the usual way is to make Reena say she’s going to become a mother or Bhai is going to become a father. Instead, she says, “amma vara poranga,” a callback to Bhai’s emotional struggle with memories of his mother. Not to mention the lullaby score in the background. I choked. This is masala and it is pure.
Come to think of it, the only emotional stake that is anchoring both the K.G.F films is the sufferings of Bhai’s mom, which again is a throwback to a popular trope from the masala universe of a previous era — but. There is something singularly distinct about Prashanth Neel’s idea of masala in comparison to SS Rajamouli’s, who, we must acknowledge, brought about a much-needed renaissance to the masala tradition of Indian cinema. Neel’s films are more focused on the extremes, while Rajamouli’s are a work of visionary.
Speaking of tradition, it is truly a remarkable decision to cast Sanjay Dutt as Adheera. There could possibly be no other actor to have done justice to a film universe teething with masculine rage than Dutt, who used to be the poster boy of hyper-masculinity at one point. Remember Vaastav? Khal Nayak? But the reason to induct Dutt appears as if Prashanth Neel wanted the actor to repeat his menacing looks as Kancha from Agneepath. Although when Yash and Dutt face-off, it does feel like the latter has passed on the hyper-masculine muscle man that he is known for, to the former. Which in itself could have been a befitting conclusion to celebrating the Angry Young Man heroes of a bygone era.
K.G.F: Chapter 2 begins right where the first part ended with Rocky Bhai announcing himself as the messiah, breaking the shackles of 20,000 men, women and children in KGF. There is nothing new to the way things are dealt with in the second instalment, except the addition of three new villains in Adheera, Ramika Sen and Inayat Khalil. All those things that were flat and derivative in K.G.F: Chapter 1 continue to be, in the sequel.
This film too suffers from the leanness in writing, though the dialogues in Tamil (written by Ashok Kumar) are terrific. There is a line about a hard rock and a hammer that hits you like a bullet. Early on, we get a scene about a boy, born and nurtured in KGF who joins Bhai’s camp to train as an armed guard. When his mother (played by Eswari Rao) advises him against this, he reminds him that the reason they were able to do namaz in the first place was because of Bhai. The irony of the scene screams at you. They all remain loyal to Bhai as long as they maintain the social order of that place. In that sense, the freedom which they think they have is controlled in nature. But K.G.F: Chapter 2 isn’t about this contemplation. It is about high-accelerated stunts and oh boy, are they wild (stunt directors are Anbarivu).
There are hardly any effective women in this festival of male toxicity. Of course, this is not a film for women. That is explicitly outlined in Rocky Bhai’s introduction scene, where Reena is brought into KGF without her consent. That is not the troubling part. When she asks the reason, Bhai says she is her “entertainment”. Reena’s character comes across as so silly and dumb that she is an insult to all the one-note women characters in our masala cinema. Raveena Tandon as the Prime Minister Ramika Sen looks deadly; her character not so much.
The familiar problems of the first part — the accelerated manner in which scenes are edited, near-deafening background score and the tiring back-and-forth narration (this time by Prakash Raj) worshipping the hero — resurface in part two. You notice the weight of the narrative in the middle section as Prashanth Neel’s struggles with the political chapter of Rocky Bhai. All these make you feel if K.G.F: Chapter 1 felt more complete and wholesome. Another chapter? I’m out.
K.G.F: Chapter 2 is currently running in theatres.