Bhamakalapam 2 Movie Review: Lacks the high stakes and dark humour of its predecessor  

Bhamakalapam 2 Movie Review: Lacks the high stakes and dark humour of its predecessor  

Priyamani and Saranya Pradeep turn in commendable performances, but the script lacks momentum and novelty 
Rating:(2 / 5)

On a concept level, a sequel to the 2022 crime-comedy Bhamakalapam sounds like a delightful idea. A regular middle-class homemaker with unusual observation skills somehow manages to get away after unwittingly committing a crime and learns something dangerously revelatory about herself. There are many possibilities for where a character like this could lead from here. However, not every story could possibly lead to an equally engaging sequel, and Bhamakalapam 2 is a perfect testament to it.

Director - Abhimanyu Tadimeti

Cast - Priyamani, Sharanya Pradeep, Raghu Mukherjee, Rudra Pradeep, Seerat Kapoor, Sandip Ved, Anish Gurwara

Streamer - Aha

The story of Bhamakalapam 2 continues from where the first part left off — Anupama (Priyamani) and her husband Mohan (Pradeep Rudra) decide to move to a new locality, hoping to make a fresh start and let go of the past. The film begins with an acknowledgement of Anupama’s past and her emotional baggage. However, what the narrative lacks here is the sense of unpredictability, especially about the protagonist herself, that made the predecessor an engaging fare. For all its flaws and shortcomings, Bhamakalapam (2022) sold us the story of an ordinary woman and her plight upon being caught in a web of her own temptations and vices. The threat on her well-being was palpable.

However, in complete contrast to the 2022 film where stakes always felt high, writer-director Abhimanyu deliberately chooses a light-footed approach for the sequel. This decision goes against the film. The script also conveniently cooks up situations, at the risk of implausibility, as Anupama finds herself stranded in the midst of yet another crime scene.

The note on which Bhamakalapam concluded left room for character progression and a story with potential for a lot more heft. Unfortunately, the sequel doesn’t use the arc of its predecessor either. The narrative plays largely on everything we now know about Anupama, without attempting to explore her character in greater detail,  or of Anupama’s potential in situations of greater dangers. However, Bhamakalapam 2 remains cheeky for most of its runtime, which takes away a lot of the tension that a plot like this needs. There is surprisingly not enough at stake here. Unlike part 1, we never worry much about where Anupama is headed. Anupama is too self-assured in her decisions, unlike the nervous, fumbling protagonist of the predecessor, something that lent the earlier film most of its goofy charm.

It’s always difficult to review a sequel without consistent references to the earlier films. In the case of Bhamakalapam 2, the task becomes particularly difficult because the sequel keeps reminding us of everything that made the first part an engaging affair. I kept thinking of one scene from Bhamakalapam in particular, where Anupama has to convince herself to literally chop a human body. The director there was skillful enough to use the character’s culinary background in the voiceover, which made the sequence further hilarious without stealing its goriness away. Bhamakalapam derived a lot of its dark humour from the possibilities when an ordinary human being is compelled to go far beyond their moral boundaries. That’s precisely what Bhamakalapam 2 seems to be lacking - there is not enough playfulness or tension in the narrative to keep the momentum going, nor enough meat in the scripting to keep us invested. - the sequel lacks meat on that front.

To give credit where it’s due, there are a handful of moments where Abhimanyu displays a flair for stylistic execution to lend the movie a sense of mood and rhythm. There is plenty of playfulness in visual execution. At one point, a villain quietly gestures the next step of his plan as he shoves a teaspoon in a sugar bowl, and we directly cut to two women digging a hole, trying to shovel in a dead body. Unfortunately, Tadimeti the writer often fails Tadimeti the director.

Where the film largely loses its direction is in the first act itself. After giving a brief glimpse into the new direction Anupama’s life takes, the narrative spends too much time establishing its array of antagonists, and soaking in the coolness of it all — there is a drug distributor posing as a film distributor, a ruthless assassin who can kill with a pencil, a bigwig who is hatching a massive drug deal under the guise of a harmless-looking cookery competition. We spend too much time away from Anupama, and the film never makes the switch back to its protagonist smoothly enough. It doesn’t help that most of these villain figures are rather one-tonal and uninteresting. It also doesn’t help that for a good 30 minutes in the second act, the film entirely veers into the zone of a heist movie, where we are given detailed explanation of the modus operandi for the heist. While these portions are deftly executed, they also impact the film’s pacing and direction.

The film is also rather too dependent on its performers to drive the show. Most of the actors live up to the task. Sharanya Pradeep, who plays Anupama’s loyal partner-in-crime Shilpa, makes for a delightful presence in particular, also bringing in many laughs with her remarks on the sheer absurdity of Anupama’s predispositions and plight. Priyamani fortunately holds the film together with her understated performance, and keeps things interesting even when the narrative gets dull.

In some of the better decisions on script level, Bhamakalapam 2 springs a surprise upon its viewers, in terms of introducing newer villain figures as the story keeps moving. There is one character in particular who is pitched as an underdog, and our first instinct is to root for them. However, in one smooth stroke, the film turns the tables on us when we finally see them for the evil they are. Unfortunately, Abhimanyu fails to capitalise on this plot development, and so the entire track around the primary antagonist manipulating our protagonist Anupama feels stale after a point. There is not enough originality on scripting level to keep the momentum going. The film does manage to throw one more surprise at us towards the end, however it’s too little and too late by then.

After a point, it becomes clear that Bhamakalapam is simply going for cheap thrills, and that logical consistency is not its strong suit, or even a major concern. After all, what can you expect from a film where the protagonist lands up with an offer to work for a national-level investigation agency merely after one instance of helping the cops in nabbing a wanted criminal? It’s more than evident that Bhamakalapam makers are going for a part 3 of this franchise. One can only hope that director Abhimanyu Tadimeti decides to go full-fledged  campy in the next instalment, for that’s the only way one could imagine this franchise to retain a sense of novelty and fun to it.

Cinema Express