Cast: Vishal Krishna, Keerthy Suresh, Rajkiran
Director: N. Linguswamy
In the rugged, rough and coarse terrain of Madurai, it seems women are safer than men. In the new Vishal Krishna-starrer, the two main women characters lord over the proceedings with no care in the world. They scream at the men and treat them whimsically according to their moods.
It’s the men who are forever thrown into fits of rage, not necessarily of their own making.
In Sandakozhi 2, Vishal Krishna, rapidly growing into one of the more dependable star-actors of Tamil cinema, plays Balu, an NRI who must join his father’s business of being a law unto himself. The only difference between Kamal Haasan’s Thevar Magan and this enjoyable mass entertainer is the message of peace that emerges from the deftly staged action sequences.
Balu’s father (played with dignity and restrain by Rajkiran) is a Gandhian. Peace is what he wants in his county, even as arch rivals shower blows and brandish machetes which have seen better ‘daze’. The machete has always been a major player in Tamil action films. Here, it makes its presence felt in the climax where Vishal must battle the female antagonist hell-bent on revenge.
It is an enjoyable reversal of gender roles. The man wants peace. The woman wants war.
Predominantly, Sandakozhi 2 is a treatise on non-violence carpeted with vibrantly conceived action sequences. In one of them, Vishal in a crowded mela (which serves as the main location throughout the plot) tackles his opponents physically without letting his father and the other vigilant members of his gang know he is breaking the family rule: no violence.
Vishal takes centrestage in the revenge drama without hogging the limelight. Unlike his prominent peers from the South Indian cinema, he doesn’t dominate every frame. On many occasions, Rajkiran playing the peace-loving patriarch is put centrestage, while Vishal — uniquely quiet in his assertions of heroism — is akin to Ajay Devgn. Both Vishal and Ajay believe action speaks louder than words.
The film’s wafer-thin plot is never allowed to dissipate into a state of nothingness. Director Linguswamy has a strong grip over the grammar of gore. He splatters the screen with stunts but doesn’t allow the action to take over the plot. There are many plot points where the blood-boiling vendetta threatens to spill over into an all-out blood bath.
The narrative holds back, reins in the rage. Just like its reticent leading man. Evenly paced and defined by a sense of bridled flamboyance and a feral fluency, this film finds Keerthy Suresh who was so wonderful as the legendary actress Savitri in Mahanati, hamming away to the hilt. She dances well, though.
The other prominent female character is the arch-villain Pechi (Varalaxmi Sarathkumar). Both the ladies concentrate on their make-up and hamming while the hero and his gang round up what is possibly the only Gandhian interpretation of The Godfather.
Now we know why boys have all the fun.
(Review by Subhash K. Jha)