Raghuvaran, the happy-go-lucky engineer, is forced to battle it out with Vasundhara Parameswaran, a powerful but arrogant owner of a construction company. Has he finally met his match? Velai Illa Pattadhari 2 or VIP 2 portrays the story.
How do you take a story where the villain has been vanquished and the hero emerged triumphant forward? Soundarya Rajnikanth and Dhanush attempt an answer in Velai Illa Pattadhari-2. Raghuvaran (Dhanush), the brilliant engineer from a loving, middle-class family, is now trying to come to terms with married life, and hoping to build on his previous success. It’s lovely to return to the characters whom we have liked in the first film, right from Raghuvaran, his father (Samuthirakani), wife Shalini (Amala Paul), and his colleague Azhagusundaram (Vivekh) to even Harry Potter, the family’s dog.
But there is an interesting role reversal in Raghuvaran’s household! Shalini is the dominant person who keeps everyone on their toes. The father, played by Samuthirakani, is now more of a friend and guide, the role that his mother played when she was alive. And talking about the mother, the film does overplay the mother sentiment a bit — it is aware of this and even uses it as a running gag — but a scene on the terrace mirroring a similar one from Part 1 still manages to be heartwarming.
These scenes in Raghuvaran’s home play at a different pitch than in the previous film… from closer-to-real-life tone, we now get almost spoofy episodes, with the focus clearly on generating laughs. And yet, these scenes, involving Raghuvaran and the people close to him are still the film’s charm.
That brings us to the antagonist, Vasundhara Parameswaran. Kajol is a good choice to play this character, who feels entitled, is arrogant and stubborn as much as she is self-made and successful. Her first encounter with Raghuvaran sets the stage for their conflict. They are opposites in every way. But, she sees that he is talented and wants (orders) him to work under her. And, Raghuvaran turns down her offer earning her wrath. Their encounters offer scope to prop up the hero and give him a larger-than-life image. Vasundhara isn’t an Amul Baby like the previous film’s antagonist, and proves to be quite a match for Raghuvaran.
Where the film fails is in how it takes their conflict forward. The first film offered the chance to set up the characters in Raghuvaran’s life the first half and then turn Raghuvaran a mass hero in the second half. Here, Soundarya has to set up the conflict right away, so by the time the first half ends, it seems to have covered the whole trajectory of the first film’s narrative. Thus, in the second half, we get another villainous character, Prakash (Saravana Subbaiah), a corrupt businessman who wants to build a theme park in a marshy land. This is a harldy compelling arc, so the film feels like it is running around in circles, trying to gain mileage out of recent events like the jallikattu protests and the Chennai floods.
Also, it wants to provide a context to Vasundhara’s behaviour — a female making it big on her own in a male dominated world. It is an appreciable thought, but as drama, this doesn’t really work. Soundarya also realises that the concept of ‘a man putting an arrogant woman in her place’ is outdated and misogynistic. So, she tries to show the change in Vasundhara’s change of heart differently, but the way it is done is hardly convincing and feels implausible.
The other aspect where the film falls woefully short of the original, is in the songs, which lack the catchiness of Anirudh’s numbers in the earlier film. While Sean Roldan did well in Pa. Pandi, here, the music lacks the pep that this genre needs. The placement of the songs doesn’t help either. Coupled with the lack of punch in the script, this makes the film underwhelming.