Saturday, July 14, 2012

Movie Review- Billa 2

These days, almost everyone turns into a critic and they all give detailed reviews on every movie they watch, in their respective blogs, face books pages and even through their tweets (not so detailed here). Nobody can question their authority and it is the right for every person to express his or her views on any topic they desire. Likewise I too have expressed my opinion on a movie that I came to watch this fine day- Billa 2 (2012). I do not have a Tux or a Blazer or even a rain coat to wear over me, I don't have a high chair to sit upon nor do I have the habit of sitting with my legs crossed. But I do have some experience watching Tamil, English and Hindi movies over the past two decades. So I do have some idea as to what to expect from where and when.

Billa 2 did surprise me when it came to my expectations on Tamil movies. Firstly, I am not an Ajith Kumar fan, nor am I a hater of the man. He is a good actor who has been part of more bad movies than good, but the good movies he has been part of, have made a lasting impression on the minds of Indian film goers. That is what truly catapulted him to the league of the top actors/stars in India. Though I am not a fan of him, I am surrounded by a whole lot of them and some of them recommended me to watch one of his movies Mangatha (2011). The way they hyped the movie and the kind of reactions they gave after watching it, prompted me to give it a try. I have this habit of not watching any movie that has a lot of expectations, with a star who has massive following (excluding Kamal Hassan). But with too many people praising the movie even after a week of its release, I decided to go and watch Mangatha (only for the sake of Venkat Prabhu, the director) and I was clearly disappointed. There were so many flaws in that movie and it had so many scenes taken from several western movies (not archetypes). The movie would have been good, if it had been an original idea and if several blatantly visible errors had been corrected, before it's release.

Now once again, another Ajith Kumar movie Billa 2 released a day back and so many of his fans came out of the movie theatres with their usual excited remarks and raves for the man, they so dearly loved and worshiped. One of my friends even insisted that we watch the movie right away, but I was a little apprehensive. I did not even want to reminisce Mankatha and I was worrying if the experience of watching Billa 2, would be similar to that. But I noticed that the movie was being made by Chakri Toleti, a man who produced a gem like 'Unnai Pol Oruvan' (though a remake of Hindi film 'AWednesday'). Also Billa 1 (another remake of the older Rajnikanth starrer 'Billa') was an excellent film, though there were a lot of scenes that were completely unnecessary. Billa 2 being its prequel, I decided to give it a try and was clearly impressed.

Firstly this is not a perfect film, it has its own flaws and errors, but I would like to point out the good things first. Where to start, but from the plot itself...David Billa, the all powerful and vicious Don that you get to see in Billa 1, begins as a Sri Lankan refugee in Indian soil. His parents are dead, his one sister is somewhere in Chennai and he is in a refugee camp, where humans are treated like animals by some evil men, who have their own agenda. His transformation from a simple refugee to a ruthless don, along with his acquaintance with several bigger crime lords is shown in the first half of the movie. The second half focuses on the changing relationships between Billa and the other villains in the movie and its consequences.

Ajith Kumar, Parvathy Omanakuttan, Bruna Abdullah, Rahman, Vidyut Jamwal, Sudhanshu Pandey, Manoj K. Jayan, Sriman and Yog Japee take up important roles in the movie, though none have as much screen time as the protagonist, which is quite understandable. I do not want to explain what role each has played and how important they are to the plot. They are for the viewers to see it on screen and understand. I don't want to ruin the fun. But Sudhanshu Pandey looks quite handsome and the intro of Vidyut Jamwal  is well done with a short, yet amazing stunt sequence. Everyone has done their job well when it comes to acting and there aren't many wrong things to be criticised about, at least on the acting front.

Many people criticized this movie for being slow, especially the first half. I however did not find it even a tad slow. If you have been exposed to enough western movies, you would not feel the story to be moving slow, but if you are someone who has been following only Indian movies with all its fast paced dance, song, comedy and irrelevant stunt sequences, then you might find this movie a bit bland, lacking all the above mentioned. In fact the story takes precedence over anything else in this movie, which is extremely positive.

Like every gangster movie, Billa 2 too has a certain structure about it and several archetypes can also be seen, like the central character taking up tasks that even experienced crime lords refuse to do, going to places where others dread to go, along with the presence of a lot of traitors, hot girls who expose everything...a bit too the level of even ribs and bones (Parvathy Omanakuttan needs some Carb right away) and of course a lot of blood shed. Many Ajith haters even accused this movie to have been a copy of "Scarface", but I sincerely feel that they've refused to understand the concept of archetypes.

This movie also does not have a grand climax and catharsis, as usually seen in many Indian movies (many audience even complained of this), but here a grand climax is not necessary, but a smooth blending into the first part was what required and to a certain degree that was satisfied. Barring Rahman and Yog Japee, not many of the characters from Billa 1 were shown in Billa 2 and there could have been even more stress towards the end, by showing a few scenes from the first movie, thereby completing the link between the two movies (Like the final scene in Planet Tatooine in Star wars- Revenge of the Sith connecting to the earlier made movie Star Wars- A new hope).

Visually, this movie is a beauty. The cinematography (by R.D. Rajasekhar) is of top class quality, one of the best in Indian cinema. The screenplay is generally good, though in some places it could have been better. The visual effects and editing (Suresh Urs) are good and credit has to be given to the way the opening credits are made (reminded me a lot of the background images of loading screens in "Call of Duty" game series) and also the visuals of "Unakkulle Mirugam" song (one of the few songs that was understandable in the movie) is amazingly well done.

The background music is amazing and very apt, hair raising in certain instances, but the songs are not that memorable, nor are its lyrics understandable. The songs appear in rather odd instances (which is common in Indian movies), but its a good thing that most songs are cut short in the movie. It's like telling the audience that "there are such songs in the movie's soundtrack that needs to be listened to, but let us not allow it to ruin the movie". Yuvan Shankar Raja could have done better.

Now we can't conclude a review without pointing out the cons...Apart from the songs, one could point to the unwillingness of the protagonist to die, as a flaw in the plot. David Billa gets beaten up by a lot of cops with sticks, yet he keeps killing his enemies without even the slightest sense of pain. He gets knocked on the head, thrown down the stairs and loses a lot of blood, yet he does not die, but gets up a few seconds later to kill every person who hurt him. He gets shot in the chest (the very same place, where one of the villains, Coti (played by Jayan), got shot with a smaller gun and died instantly in the previous scene) with a large gun, yet he gets up, continues fighting, runs over long distances, climbs trains, hangs from helicopter, punches the villain, throws him off it and yet walks heroically towards the end. If anything Billa might even walk alive through a Nuclear Cloud to the beats of Yuvan Shankar Raja. He is like a cockroach who can survive through anything...

Finally Ajith Kumar, the man has to be praised for his work here. Unlike Mangatha, there isn't a place where you can spot Ajith Kumar trying to do something, out of his comfort zone. He played his character perfectly, showing emotions where necessary (which is in a few very instances) and performing stunts convincingly despite his age and a slightly overweight body. This movie will surely increase the number of fans this man has and this is certainly one more of his better movies.

I would not give stars or points to this movie. I will leave the rating to the audience, as tastes differ greatly. I would only request the audiences to be not biased, whether towards Ajith or against him. Judge and appreciate or criticise the movie based on its true merits. Please do not make rash comments without watching this movie and do not try to oversell or undervalue it. Hard work of so many people are involved and just because one actor is liked or not, the hard work and efforts of the other people involved cannot be ignored. So many good movies of the past have been failures due to biased views. Let the future ones not endure the same fate...
                                                                                                         - A.Prashanth Narasimhan

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