This is the second film in the ”South Indian Cinema Induction Programme” for our friends. MAGADHEERA (Step One) is a full out epic film that dazzles the senses, while Arya 2 on the other hand is on a more intimate, character driven scale. It also has many of the staples of a Telugu film used to great effect:
- Creepy weird stalking = true love and you should be totally grateful to your stalker and love them back
- The hero will fall in love with the heroine instantly on first seeing her.
- Machetes are essential for any proper fight scene
- No Telugu film is complete without Brahmi (it may indeed be a law that he must appear)
- Totally awesome dancing.
The movie contains similar themes of one-sided love and stalking til you win as the earlier (and far inferior) film, Arya, but is not a sequel as such so you don’t need to see that to understand Arya 2. The child Arya sacrifices his chance at leaving the orphanage when he wins a coin toss but lets his best friend Ajay be adopted. Years later Ajay reluctantly gives Arya a job after Arya rescues him from some thugs. Ajay tells him he must be the perfect employee and if anything untoward happens, Arya is out. He doesn’t think that Arya can manage this as his childhood friend is a drunken thug who has never managed to make anything of himself. However, Arya transforms himself into the stylish Mister Perfect and confounds Ajay’s expectation of a short-lived stint at honest employment.
Both fall in love with Geetha, played by Kajal Agarwal, and to show his true love Arya stalks her – of course!! This totally freaks her out, especially since no-one will believe that the perfect Arya could do any of the things she is accusing him of. It says enough that Brahmi plays the HR Director, so you can imagine the quality of staff counselling on offer! Finally she turns to Ajay to try and shake off Arya’s attentions, and announces that she will marry him.
Meanwhile her family, who are the local big-wigs in her village, want to marry her off to the son of their rivals in order to bring the two families together and stop all the bloodshed. For various reasons, Arya goes to let her family know that she will only marry his good friend Ajay. Along the way he manages to get married to her himself and his conflicts between doing the right thing for his best friend, his own desires and flaws and his total all encompassing love for the girl are brilliantly portrayed. How he tries to resolve all these dramas and achieve a happy resolution for all forms the second half of the film.
This is Allu Arjun’s movie all the way, and he does turn in one of his best performances to date as the psychopathic Arya. Bunny manages to make all of this convincing as he swings from manic stalker and psychopath to tender lover and concerned friend and back again, all the while trying to make Geetha’s world as perfect as possible, be the ideal worker, solve the inter-family rivalry, and be true to his best friend.
Special mention of his goldfish – despite being worried for its safety the whole way through the movie, thankfully all was well in the end. We choose not to consider the fluctuations in appearance of the goldfish, and decided it was just occasional use of a stunt fish rather than multiple goldfishes. Indeed the goldfish had a vital role to play, apart from the obvious one demonstrating that Arya really was a good person at heart because he took care of a goldfish!
The added touch of Arya administering first aid to the thugs while he was beating them was genius! He wasn’t wantonly violent – just teaching them a lesson. This was picked up again in another fabulous fight scene involving a bus and a trail of ambulances.
Other plus points of this film are Kajal Agarwal, who is just beautiful and feisty enough to make a very attractive heroine. Her evolution from hating Arya and trying to ruin him to understanding his motivation and problems was believable. The scenes where she realised Ajay might not be the man she believed him to be were effective and not overplayed. The addition of Subbu (played by Ajay) as her third prospective bridegroom, the son of the opposing gang-leader, was an unexpected bonus as this actor is another favourite. The Sholay tinged bromance between the characters played by Ajay and Bunny was both hilarious and touching, and more than a little twisted.
In fact the only downside, and it is small, is the character of Ajay, played by Navdeep in the movie. Despite the back-story showing how young Arya manipulated situations to ensure they stayed close, little of this was referenced again in later scenes, except by Arya who genuinely seemed to care about their shared past, albeit in his warped way. Ajay seemed just mean and spineless as he tried to throw Arya to the wolves and come away with the girl and without the burden of his “best friend”. We really never care about Navdeep’s Ajay at all, despite the potential for us to see him as a victim of an unstable relationship or as the villain of the piece. Navdeep also didn’t turn in a particular inspiring performance, and it really felt as if he was sleep-walking through the role.
The soundtrack and choreography are excellent, and months later we are still listening to the songs on high rotation. Neither of us quite understand who came up with the reverse-worm move in “My Love Is Gone”, or why, but they all seem very proud of it, and it clearly took some doing! The muted colour palette in the city scenes gives the boy-meets-girl story a fresh and modern look, and the monochrome costumes for Arya are quite a remove from the usual bling-is-more Telugu hero style.
The cinematography and editing are brilliant, and the dance and fight sequences look fantastic. For those who like a colourful village wedding, machetes, moustaches and skanky item girl, these essential elements are abundant once the story relocates to Rayalaseema.
Heather says: Arya 2 is my favourite Telugu movie. It just has absolutely everything. Action, drama, comedy, Allu Arjun (who just happens to be my favourite Telugu actor), brilliant dancing and a really well plotted and paced story. The lead actors shine in this film, and Sukumar’s direction is just fabulous throughout. I agree with Temple that the small details and personality quirks shown throughout really raise this film above other ‘stalking as love’ films I’ve seen. The only quibble I have is with Ajay who was just too one-dimensional, but since he was only there to showcase how selfish and narrow minded he was compared to the big hearted Arya, this wasn’t too much of an issue. I love the music in this film, the dancing is just incredible, although trying to copy the dance moves in “My Love has Gone” has caused some minor injuries in our dance group. I would therefore advise watching with some caution and the ‘please don’t try this at home’ warning should apply! This film makes me laugh, cry, sigh over Arya, shout at the screen, and even gasp every time at the climax even though I’ve watched it many, many times. Just perfect – 5 stars!
Temple says: When I started watching Hindi films, I saw a lot of early SRK films where he played the stuttering stalking psycho that you couldn’t help but love, but who dies in a hail of bullets. Arya 2 reminded me a little of those films, but with the added bonus that the very attractive anti-hero survives, and gets the girl. Hurrah!! But I will add, I only barrack for the stalkers and psychos in films, not in real life. Small details in the direction really made this film perfect for me - Arya putting his glasses back on so he could see his dream sequence clearly, the goldfish, the tiny jail for frogs, Bunny’s excellent moments of pure mayhem when Arya broke through the surface of Mister Perfect and the recurring musical and sound effect motifs. Oh – and a heroine entrance featuring an umbrella hat. Haven’t seen one of those in ages! I really have no criticism of Arya 2. I love the story development, it has all the action and brilliant dancing I want, and the comedy was actually funny. Allu Arjun just shone in this role, and is a delight from start to finish. I’m sure it was considered quite risky to make this film as it isn’t a standard heroic role, and the character is manipulative and unhinged right to the end, and not something a lot of young actors would venture. A huge thank you to the producers, director and writer and all the cast for making something so quirky and fun. Of course this gets 5 stars from me!