The sequel to his commercially successful drama has all the ingredients to be a good crowd puller
A couple of years ago, when a journalist asked Vijay Antony about his necessity to write, produce, edit and compose music for his films without handing over the responsibility to specialists, the actor had an interesting answer. “When I work on a film and have a clear understanding of how it has to be shaped, having creative control over multiple aspects will ensure consistency in the final result. It gives me the liberty to churn something exactly the way I visualise it,” he replied.
When he’s now making his directorial debut with Bichagadu 2, it doesn’t come as a surprise given his ability to select good scripts and his command over multiple crafts. Bichagadu opened up a new market for the multi-faceted actor in Telugu and regardless of success, failure of his later films, he has proved his ability to draw audiences to theatres in Telugu states. At a time when he truly needs to find his mojo back, he’s banking on the film’s sequel to deliver the goods.
Vijay Antony makes use of the popular Salim-Javed trope from Don - where an underdog swaps places with an influential man and is given charge of a powerful empire. Throw in a mix of science, sister sentiment, a dose of socialism, communism, action and an emphatic music score, you get a film like Bichagadu 2. The cocktail may seem preposterous on paper, but both as an actor, director, Vijay Antony displays enough conviction in his material.
The man has always called himself an actor with limited potential and has intentionally chosen scripts that don’t demand flamboyance or histrionic talents from the lead character. Underplaying or not, he at least knows how not to tinker with the soul of a script and has consistently let the story shine instead - Yaman, Nakili, Doctor Saleem, Killer are proof of the same.
As a writer-director in Bichagadu 2, he understands the pulse of his target audiences and keeps his themes quite relatable; the emotional beats are familiar but he finds a way to spring a surprise without alienating a viewer. The film, even if it gets distracted from the core premise in the second honour, remains quite eventful and delivers adequate cinematic highs to keep the narrative ticking along smoothly.
The timing of the action sequences, songs, a perfect intermission twist are the icings on the cake. The film, not only personalises the tale of the protagonist but smartly integrates it with the grassroot issues that affect the common man - their quest for justice, a desire to lead a life of dignity and rise above social barriers. If Bichagadu was a story of a millionaire fighting for his mom’s well-being, the sequel expands the character’s scope.
A soothsayer in the film tells the protagonist to think of the larger picture and says, ‘use your position to solve the problems of the common man and you’ll get what you want.’ Vijay Antony succeeds in making the audiences root for the character and overlook the film’s follies. Despite the exaggeration with the courtroom drama, Bichagadu 2 has its heart at the right place.
The 154-minute narrative is used well to make space for action, drama, romance and a social message. Kavya Thapar shines within the scope of her character and the familiar faces like YG Mahendran, Yogi Babu, Dev Gill, John Vijay, Hareesh Peradi deliver the goods. Bichagadu 2 serves as a testimony to the directorial abilities of Vijay Antony. He proves that it’s possible to make intelligent and entertaining commercial cinema.