VIP 2: Cashing in on the popularity of the first
The winning formula of VIP works in the second instalment of the franchise too
If you’re a man on the verge of marriage, you may want to think again about watching VIP 2. The film will have you believe that marriages are among the worst things that can happen to a man. It’s supposedly where love dies a slow death. It’s a gaping, endless void of discontentment... apparently. Shalini (Amala Paul), the woman who was such a pillar of support and motivation for Raghuvaran (Dhanush) in the first film, is a first-grade harpy in this film. She’s constantly shouting herself hoarse, and has, on account of the transformative qualities of marriage, become an absolute nag. For almost the entire film, Raghuvaran’s father (Samuthirakani) and brother are reduced to trying to broker peace between the couple. In one scene, Raghuvaran’s brother even asks his father, “Pesaama namma thani kudithanam poidlama?” His father, meanwhile, has bright ideas of his own, which include revolutionary solutions like buying ‘malligapoo’ because it apparently worked when he was having a tough time with his wife. If I were Raghuvaran, my ears, no doubt, would have been bleeding. No child should ever have to deal with the misery of having to listen to how his parents turned each other on.
Cast: Dhanush, Amala Paul, Vivekh, Samuthirakani
Director: Soundarya Rajinikanth
Anyway, Shalini apparently just can’t have a normal conversation and speak in decibel levels that wouldn’t cause a health hazard. In probably the only scene in which she does, a nonplussed Raghuvaran finds her behaviour to be so unusual that he concludes there’s something wrong with her. This mock-villification of marriage, of a wife, is frankly getting a bit tiring. There are a couple of half-hearted attempts at rectifying their relationship, but you never truly feel that Raghuvaran and Shalini ever realise the value of their marriage as they should. Or perhaps that’s an angle they’re exploring in VIP 3?
I can see how this angle would have been a hard temptation to resist for Dhanush, the writer. The franchise, if I can call it that, is above all, created to be a crowd-pleaser. Certain ideas have always resonated with the masses. Complaints about marriage. Glorification of pre-marriage love. Praise of the student community—in this case, engineers. Romanticisation of the unemployed (for more information, refer to the title of the film). In fact, in one scene, Shalini tells a bemused Raghuvaran that her unusually affectionate behaviour is on account of his joblessness, for, that’s the guy she originally fell in love with. I wasn’t even sure why Raghuvaran continued to look for jobs. Save your marriage, Raghuvaran. Don’t work ever.
In the interest of fairness, it must be said that VIP 2, despite these issues, does work for the most part. I particularly liked how Dhanush has placed some of the old characters in this film. Saranya’s terrace cameo is moving. Even a fringe character like Thangapushpam (wife of Vivekh’s character) gets a scene to make her utility felt. The music is a bit of a let down in comparison with the first film. When the songs played in VIP, you sunk further into the film. The situations for the songs are quite similar in this film: a theme for the villain, a song for love failure (marriage, in this case), a love song… The structure of the film itself is quite like the first. The central conflict, again, is between a wealthy real estate tycoon and Raghuvaran, the people’s hardworking hero; an established player taking on an up-and-coming engineer; hubris vs humility. Even the rather understated, almost-too-pragmatic-to-be-dramatic end is a reminder of the first film. There’s nothing wrong in adapting something that works, of course, and that’s a big reason why VIP 2 works: its winning formula.
However, the lack of novelty means that despite being played by an actress of Kajol’s stature, the film’s villain, Vasundhara Parameswar, doesn’t really seem to get truly under the skin of Raghuvaran. She doesn’t really get the fireworks going. Perhaps Raghuvaran himself realises that, and in fond remembrance of the adversary of his first film, calls her Amul Baby a couple of times. If VIP 2 works, it’s ultimately on account of the nostalgia you feel for the first, and of course, Dhanush’s star power, which is never more evident than when he sits cross-legged in Vasundhara’s office. He lights a cigarette, and tells her, “Sandhosham… vaanga mudiyadhu.” For how evocative he is of Rajinikanth in that scene, he may as well have said “waanga mudiyadhu”.