By Subhash K. Jha
Film: “VIP 2 (Lalkar)”; Director: Soundarya Rajinikanth; Cast: Dhanush, Kajol; Rating: *1/2
Confession time. I haven’t seen the first “VIP” film. And after seeing the follow-up, I swear on my favourite Dada Kondke feature, I will never touch anything with a VIP in it, not even the suitcase.
More confession. “VIP 2” is not a film. It is an abomination. It is two hours of excruciating self-promotion for Dhanush who is an embarrassment in this film. Dhanush plays the kind of larger-than-life bully-hero who looked ridiculous even back in the 1960s when Rajendra Kumar or Gemini Ganesan would saunter on to a sprawling set representing a well-to-do living room replete with a spiralling stairway leading upstairs, and hug and kiss a woman 10 years younger and say, “ceMaa, I’ve come first-class-first in class” (Please translate into Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, etc).
Dhanush plays Raghuvaran, a first-class-first in everything, including male chauvinism and self-congratulation. He sings songs about his greatness with his buddies (terrible ones at that), bullies his pretty wife (Amala Paul, grossly misused) and swigs his swag at the camera as though it were a hungry leopard in a zoo.
Then when he takes on a corporate head honcho played by the totally misused Kajol, he takes on more than he can chew. Which is okay because Dhanush’s character does exactly what the director is doing. Taking on more than can be handled, they both flounder and fall trembling to the ground.
Soundarya Rajinikanth is, I don’t know how to say this politely, not a director at all. To build on a confrontation between Dhanush’s Raghuvaran and Kajol’s entrepreneur Vasundhara, Soundarya uses tropes and cliches from old archival Rajinikanth starrers. These plot points would make even Rajini sir shudder in disgust.
Not now, please. Not any more! Who behaves like a Rajini spinoff treating women with the courteous contempt we usually save for bags filled with detonative dynamite?
Kajol plays a variation of Sridevi’s snooty entrepreneur from Raj Kanwar’s “Laadla”, where she would run her finger, cross the bridge of her nose and bellow, “You understand? You better understand!”.
At least Sridevi had a formidable adversary in Anil Kapoor. In “VIP 2”, Kajol’s confrontation sequences with Dhanush are so high-pitched and hysterical that the verbal sparring threatens to come apart at the seams to expose the hollowness of this film’s anarchic gender war.
“VIP 2” empowers mediocrity to the extent that it (mediocrity) seems the only natural status to be attained in the course of the storytelling. Some day Kajol will show this film to her grand-kids as an example of how wrong a sensible seemingly intelligent professional’s judgement can go when she is focusing on the zeroes on her pay cheque.
You understand? You better understand!
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