The first episode sets the tone by showcasing Rocky’s stellar rise to the top and KGF: 2 picks up where things left off, though the stakes have risen in the most unprecedented way for Rocky.
Time and time again, certain films reach beyond “review” and instead stay in a realm of their own. These films, or call them instruments of their destiny, are often only held accountable for the great entertainment they promise before release, and when the promise is kept, they find themselves in a pleasant and quiet cinematic legacy. And as South India continues to deliver on that promise with one blockbuster after another, KGF: Chapter 2 becomes the last entry in view of this dynamic list.
In KGF: 1, Yash’s Raja Krishnappa Bairya, aka Rocky Bhai, infiltrates the horrific underworld of Narachi as a mercenary in an attempt to assassinate the kingpin Garuda. In the end, Rocky manages to decapitate Garuda with a cinematic swing of his sword, frees the thousands of miners, and breathes joy into their lives. The first episode sets the tone by showcasing Rocky’s meteoric rise to the top and KGF: 2 picks up where things left off, though the stakes have risen in the most unprecedented way for Rocky. As Adheera (Sanjay Dutt), Garuda’s uncle, lurks in the dark waiting to be freed, Rocky’s fame and power attract the attention of the highest political powers in the land.
Vijayendra Ingalgi (Prakash Raj), son of the former journalist and author of the infamous book Eldoradotakes over as narrator of KGF: 2 and soon sets the context. Rocky Bhai conquered Narachi, much to the shock and dismay of Rajendra Desai, Andrews and the politician Gurupandian. Rocky has bigger and more powerful plans in mind for the place (now renamed KGF), and soon realizes that he was sitting on a gigantic treasure all along, one far bigger than anyone knew. But, as he walks the thin line between ambition and greed, things escalate all around him for him to finally reveal his true courage.
Prashanth Neel, whose story unfolded in a slow but intriguing way in KGF: 1, does not hide its intention with the continuation and increases the energy from the start. However, despite its attempts to keep things on the same pace, the plot lacks enough material to make it as engrossing and thrilling as the first installment.
A lot of KGF: 2 is a test of Rocky Bhai’s toughness – both physical and emotional. As he expands KGF’s mining operations, he makes it his hidden stronghold and becomes a demigod in the eyes of the people, while Adheera’s menacing presence looms larger than ever. Neel’s story uses all of the many open ends of KGF: 1 perfectly and you can see many unfinished angles – from Inayat Khalil, Shetty etc. – justified with great effect.
The filmmaker’s conviction shines through in his characters, like Ramika Sen (Raveena Tandon), India’s newly elected prime minister, who becomes Rocky’s fiercest political and bureaucratic opponent. Raveena, returning to Kannada cinema after nearly two decades, packs a punch, delivering every line with gusto. She makes Ramika a memorable character in a world that sometimes seems rigged with excessive male bravado.
The film also has a strong emotional core and “motherly feeling” resonates throughout, along with evocative flashbacks to Rocky’s childhood. Veteran actor Easwari Rao joins the cast, adding more depth to the story. Rocky’s love life blossoms on the side, with Reena Desai (Srinidhi Shetty) promising him a healthy and happy family life. It is perhaps this love trail, which begins on a rather problematic note vis-à-vis consent, that remains the most sloppy, and so we see the story ebb and flow.
Sanjay Dutt is certainly a striking figure on screen in his Vikings avatar and is his best in jaw-dropping action sequences. But her character arc is rendered monotonous after a point, offering little depth and perspective. Fans are treated not once but multiple times to the long-awaited showdown between Adheera and Rocky Bhai, and one tends to drop every other gap in sheer wonder.
The main star of the film, however, is the exceptional synergy between Prashanth Neel and his team. The filmmaker’s vision is apparent in every frame and he doesn’t drop the ball on intensity for even a microsecond. In what will soon become a historic actor-director collaboration, Yash rises to the occasion and casts a hypnotic spell over audiences with his swagger and charm. From the charismatic action sequences to the raw emotion, the actor looks tailor-made for the film’s larger-than-life milieu. Credit goes to its stylist Saniya Sardhariya whose retro-themed costumes add a new dimension to the overall opulence. Art Director Ace Shiva Kumar’s sets take the film to a whole new level and help immensely to bring the unique world of Prashanth Neel to life. Bhuvan Gowda, the cinematographer, creates his own visual palette and doesn’t seem too bogged down by the period setting of the story – every frame, every camera sweep is beautiful and admirable.
And yet, the two most vital cogs in the wheel turn out to be publisher Ujwal Kulkarni and music composer Ravi Basrur. Ujwal’s careful editing gives the film’s chaos and turmoil an original perspective and brings an almost madmax kind of energy. Ravi Basrur’s score ranges from Kannada folk to hard rock and western classic, and it’s very rare to come across a soundtrack that matches the beat of the script.
To all Rocking Star Yash fans around the world, KGF: 2 will be a wild ride worth all the hype. Despite the few flaws, viewers will forever remember the film for its boundless imagination and incredible technical finesse.
Fans are invited to stay seated until the very end for a major surprise, concerning a potential sequel, which awaits them!
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its critics have any commercial relationship with the film’s producers or any other members of its cast and crew.