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Pichaikkaran 2 Movie Review: Overdose of melodrama brings down this mishmash of genres- Cinema express

Pichaikkaran 2 Movie Review: Overdose of melodrama brings down this mishmash of genres   

This over-ambitious genre-blender is mounted on fragile, uninventive writing and sadly, the result is a total opposite of the much-loved prequel

Published: 19th May 2023

Vijay Antony's directorial debut Pichaikkaran 2 (Anti Bikili) is in many ways anti-Pichaikkaran 1. While the challenge posed to the billionaire Arul in the first part is to act as a beggar for a couple of months, it is the reverse in the stand-alone sequel — Beggar Sathya has to impersonate a billionaire for a short span. The stark differences don't end there. Arul's endeavours were all solely for the wellness of his mother, however, here Sathya's only pursuit in life is to find his long-lost sister, but there is also a greater purpose in play — He wants to single-handedly wipe off poverty in India! Oh, I almost forgot, Pichaikkaran 2 is also a science fiction involving brain swapping. Unfortunately, this over-ambitious genre-blender is mounted on fragile, uninventive writing and sadly, the result is a total opposite of the much-loved prequel.

Director: Vijay Antony
Cast: Vijay Antony, Kavya Thapar, Devi Gill, John Vijay, Hareesh Peradi

Vijay Antony, the director, treats the first half of the film as an appetizer aimed to prep the audience for the supposed full meal awaiting the audience in the second half. It almost feels like he is holding back his strongest punch as he just presents the backgrounds of the characters aided by a couple of flashbacks, and establishes the stakes at his own pace. And this is followed by a rather shocking twist close to the interval that sets the road clear for the protagonist blasting off every obstacle in his way. We are almost left to wonder how filmmaker Vijay is going to take the story forward as the hero has absolutely no threats and becomes extremely resourceful to achieve his only want within a matter of days. But, the much-teased second half turns out to be a major letdown as the story takes a complete U-turn and becomes a tedious, fanciful lecture on poverty eradication.

Make no mistake, I am all for well-intentioned 'message' films, where the writers take an effort to spot undiscussed issues and provide feasible solutions after ample research. But with Pichaikkaran 2, Vijay barely scratches the surface when discussing actual issues. In an attempt to conceal the lack of depth, he slaps us with an overdose of melodrama. For instance, a poverty-stricken girl in the film gets murdered. She is not only murdered but also gang raped. Well, the film isn't done amping the pathos yet. The cruel death of the girl is announced by a loud, painful scream of her mute friend who goes on to act out the gory plight of her mate.  Well, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Apart from directing, producing and starring in Pichaikkaran 2, Vijay has also taken care of editing, screenplay, dialogues, story, and music composing in true T Rajendar style. However, the biggest TR element the film carries is the 'Thangachi sentiment'. Though emotions in these segments are brilliantly shouldered by the young actors in the flashback, the entire angle reminds us of a hundred other films which have had drainingly similar staging in the past.

Though Vijay's Sathya bears it all and sheds blood and tears for the poor, his strategies to abolish their destitution only makes us tear up out of laughter. For instance, he launches a mall with low-priced groceries and essentials but doesn't take a second to think about how it could be exploited by the well-off ones. And the very idea of brain-swapping feels so shallow as the brain of Vijay's Vijay Gurumurthy is swapped with a doppelganger Sathya. Why introduce the complex idea and odd-looking VFX laboratories when he could have just opted for the tried and tested impersonation trope?

The one community that is exploited the most in Pichaikkaran 2 isn't the poor, but the women. They are widely slotted under two categories: The sentimental ones, and the sensual ones. If the latter category is designated to dance around men and lure them, the former is just destined to cry.

During a crucial point in the film, Sathya explains the meaning of 'Bikili' to a crowd of thousands. "The person who uses his power to exploit the poor is a bikili! One who piles up and hides his wealth is a bikili! One who manipulates the needy for personal gains is a bikili!" I wonder how he forgot to mention the important one on the list, "Films that milk the emotions of the poor to make money!" 

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