Chithiram Pesuthadi 2 Review: Well-intentioned, but crams in too much to do justice
Originally titled Ula, the film was probably conceived before the hyperlink cinema bubble burst in Tamil cinema
Chithiram Pesuthadi 2 (CP 2) gives you an experience that is akin to opening a time capsule — the effect is much nostalgia. First, there’s Radhika Apte from her Dhoni days (way before she became Netflix India’s poster girl). Then, there’s Ajmal who, after quite a break, made a comeback in last year’s Iravukku Ayiram Kangal (2018). Higher on the novelty radar, the film has Dwayne Bravo in a cameo. But the biggest surprise is seeing Suchitra Karthik Kumar’s name in the credits. (She has sung a song for the film.) You get the drift. The film was made in 2013, and it shows. Originally titled Ula, the film was probably conceived before the hyperlink cinema bubble burst in Tamil cinema. But being dated is the last thing you can accuse CP 2 of… In other words, it has bigger problems to worry about.
Director: Rajan Madhav
Cast: Radhika Apte, Vidharth, Ajmal, Gayathrie
CP 2 follows the stories of Thiru (Vidharth), Durga (Radhika Apte), Vicky (Ajmal), Salim (Ashok), Priya (Gayathrie), Kathir (Nandan), Dhanam (Nivedhitha) and a few more, which are all interwoven together. Unlike usual hyperlink narratives where one story thread has multiple characters, each one here is on their own mission. Thus, as the narrative jumps from one character to another, the sheer number of characters makes it tiring to keep up with the plot. More than once, you are left puzzled as to how two stories are connected unless you are taking copious notes. And none of these stories are fleshed out enough for us to care about. Vicky is cheated by his friend that causes him to lose his land. How? We don’t know. It almost seems like the director threw in everything he wanted to talk about and placed a narrative for each -- sex workers, paedophiles, unhappy marriages, burgeoning greed etc. While the film is genuinely well-intentioned, it doesn’t quite make its mark, thanks to its burdened screenplay.
It doesn’t help that the film keeps meandering into a song or a fight -- almost as if every male actor in the film was guaranteed a fight sequence. CP 2 left me with quite a few questions. What is the need to force an item song into the film? Why does the edit pattern feel like the transition of Powerpoint slides? Why make Dwayne Bravo dance to a Tasmac song in a bright pink shirt? The song is curiously titled ‘En da?’ (Why?). It’s a question I wanted to ask the director too.
However, I quite liked the women of Chithiram Pesuthadi 2: Durga, Priya, and Dhanam. Durga is stuck in an unhappy marriage, Priya is being forced to marry a stranger, and Dhanam is a sex worker. While they are all caged by their circumstances, they never shy away from speaking their mind. A nosy taxi driver overhears the conversation Priya has with Kathir, and butts in with unsolicited advice. It is almost cathartic to see Priya rebuke him with unrepressed candour. When Thiru throws money at Dhanam, she maintains her dignity by asking him to give it to her in hand. However, these moments are few and far between, and not enough to keep us involved in the tangle of stories that CP 2 is.