Finally the next instalment of Rocky and his plan for world domination is here! KGF2 is more of the same as Chapter 1, but with even more guns, declarative speeches and dramatic hair tosses from the leading man. The film follows on from the events of KGF1 to show Rocky now in control of the gold fields, but with so many enemies out to get him, how long will be manage to stay in power? Needless to say the answer involves plenty of brutal, blood-soaked violence and villainous in-fighting as the various factions try to gain the upper hand. It’s a whole lot of fun to watch as Prashanth Neel delivers yet another blockbuster in his definitive style.
The film opens with a group of men unearthing a buried statue of Rocky. We knew from the start of Chapter 1 that he didn’t have a good end, but the resulting crowd that surrounds the excavation serves to remind us that even if the Indian Government wanted to wipe his legacy from the record books, his people still remember. It’s a powerful opening and an excellent reminder that Rocky was more than just a leader for the slaves in the mine – he was a god.
The film moves back to where KGF1 finished, with Rocky having killed the mine controller Garuda and taken control of the gold fields. He moves quickly to consolidate his power, and demonstrates his ruthlessness by killing Kamal (Vasishta N. Simha) when he objects to Rocky kidnapping Reena (Srinidhi Shetty). Perhaps in keeping with the seventies vibe, this is not a film that is progressive about women. All the female characters are either mothers or ‘entertainment’ with the exception of Ramila Sen (Raveena Tandon) who ends up as the Prime Minister of India. Raveena Tandon has more screen time and makes more of an impact than Srinidhi, despite the latter’s role as Rocky’s love interest. But Rocky’s mother Shanthamma (Archana Jois) and the slave woman (Eswari Rao) who is Farmaan’s mother, also have roles with a bigger impact than Reena. It’s a shame, especially that there is no big dance number, as in the small amount of choreography we do see, Srinidhi is lovely and I would have liked to have seen more. She does well with her limited role and hopefully we get to see her in more films soon.
As part of his plans, Rocky opens up all the mines for exploration amidst rumours that he exploiting the workers for his own gain. Attacks from his rivals organised by gangster Shetty (Dinesh Mangaluru) lead him to develop his own army from the slaves in the mines. To this end he recruits former overseer Vanaram (Ayyappa P. Sharma) to train the boys and look after security. But Rocky’s efforts seem in vain when Adheera (Sanjay Dutt) returns and kidnaps Reena as bait to lure Rocky out of the KGF complex. Of course that’s not the end of it as alliances are made and broken, politician Guru Pandian (Achyuth Kumar) schemes and plots and CBI officer Raghavan (Rao Ramesh) recruits the Prime Minister in his quest to bring Rocky to justice.
I was perhaps a little less invested in this film than the first one, I think because there is less emotional impact to the story. There is less of Rocky’s ‘soft side’ and even the impact of the young slaves taking up arms to fight for Rocky, and the children idolising their hero is lessened simply because there is just so much story to get through. It does make for tighter and more effective action but I felt the lack of the emotional core that underpinned the first story. However, there are plenty of amazing action sequences choreographed by Anbariv and others, and the special effects are world class. I still enjoyed the film immensely and it’s very close to being the perfect sequel. Sanjay Dutt is actually quite brilliant as Adheera making him a maniacal Viking with an unlimited capacity for cruelty. He is suitably dramatic and OTT in a role where nothing else would work as well. There are so many epic scenes that I can’t even begin to find a favourite, although Rocky’s entrance scene to the beats of hundreds of drums is certainly up there.
Prashanth Neel uses the music from Ravi Basrur as part of the action, as he has done previously with the BGM in Ugramm. As the action ramps up, so does the score and it helps makes the fight sequences even more adrenaline inducing. What doesn’t work so well are the black screens he interposes in the car chase sequence where Rocky is chasing after the men who have Reena. I found that this broke up the action and slowed the effect down too much. But that’s a small quibble in a film where the action choreography is outstanding, and the fight sequences are the key to everything else in the story. Yash is again awesome as Rocky and despite the small audience for the show I went to, the entire theatre was cheering and whistling at his entry scene (me too!). He owns the character of Rocky through and through and invests him with real star power. As we see more of Rocky’s back story and his mother’s instructions, his name and stoic demeanour are ever more appropriate and the reason for his drive for success is as sad as it is inspirational. He takes on the seventies fashion with as much flare as in KGF1 and looks amazing in both the action and dramatic sequences. Again, most of the dialogue is declarative and uttered with high drama, but it suits the film premise and all the actors buy into the trope so it doesn’t seem overdone.
Of the rest of the cast, most are suitably aggressive as various gangsters and Achyuth Kumar is suitably devious as a scheming politician. The narrator for KGF1, Anand Ingalagi (Anant Nag) is ill when the story begins, and the narration is taken over by his son Vijayendra (Prakash Raj). The breaks to the narration, still to Deepa Hegde (Malavika Avinash), serve as a good contrast to the more bombastic action sequences and help to fill in the back story as villains fly across the screen briefly before being shot, decapitated or otherwise destroyed by Rocky. I am a big fan of Ayyappa so loved seeing him back in the action and also really enjoyed watching Dinesh Mangaluru’s Shetty try to stay in control.
KGF2 deserves to be a blockbuster. Prashanth Neel has created a well defined world with characters that are well drawn with clear motivations and who all act in alignment with those drivers. Nothing is left to chance and despite the cast of thousands it is always clear exactly who everyone is and their role in the plot. The end credits give a tantalising teaser that there may be a KGF3. If so, sign me up now! Highly recommended for fans of action films who don’t mind some blood and gore with a really well made story.