Director: Vijay Kumar
Cast: Vijay Kumar, Sudhakar, Vismaya
Vijay Kumar loves to name drop. In his first film, Uriyadi, a character wonders if Lenin Vijay (Vijay Kumar) is a Christian and Lenin replies that he was christened so in memory of the Russian revolutionary. In that film, that’s all the information you get about his background- that he comes from a politically aware, possibly Communist family. In Uriyadi 2, the spiritual sequel also directed by Vijay Kumar, the principal character played by Vijay is again named Lenin Vijay.
Here we get to meet his family, his father is again a rationalist, shunned by his people because of his inter-caste marriage. On the walls of their house hang frames with Karl Marx, Che Guevara and – who else – Lenin. I say walls because they appear on different walls in different scenes. The father is seen telling students about his life, his inspirations and several great names from the past make it to the list – many caste names but also including Immanuel Sekaran. We see Lenin’s mother giving him pithy lessons (important lessons but they sound pithy when uttered on screen in the way they are staged) as he lies on the bed reading or having his breakfast. One would think that these lessons would have been imparted to Lenin during a much younger, impressionable age but Vijay Kumar stages them with the adult Lenin.
We can also see the effects of a bigger producer like Surya. The first film looked and felt like the raw independent film that it was. There, a love story and a heroine are given about ten minutes and soon dispensed with but here we get a longer love story with a tired courtship subplot and comedy. So, what is different? This film is rated U. The first one came out rated A. On a positive note, the woman here – Vismaya who resembles a young Nadhiya – is given an integral, well rounded part. She plays a doctor (but one who has Beat the NEET book on her table. Why? Another relevant but forced drop from Vijay Kumar) associated with Paksino, a factory producing pesticides, dealing with harmful chemicals and flouting safety norms. Here too, one of Lenin’s friends becomes a casualty and that sets in motion the major plot.
Paksino is of course a stand-in for Sterlite and the scenes in Uriyadi 2 are almost borrowed event for event from last year. The politicians are malleable, using caste and deaths to their advantage. At one point they don’t flinch even to use dead bodies on stage to help their cause. Vijay Kumar’s strong points lie in the way he stages action scenes. This is no Pa. Ranjith’s Madras but Vijay, in a similar fashion, accomplishes a thumping pre-interval stretch, that begins with an assassination attempt that puts “anti-social elements” and the police on the same side, and leads into a sequence in the factory where tension is gradually dialled up.
The scene just before this stretch has a constable questioning Lenin and his friends about their presence in a street in the dark. Lenin uses no honorific in his language in his reply and it is punchier than most mass scenes we’ve seen in recent times. It is also good to see a healthy disregard for the police in Tamil cinema, an institution our movies only revere and amplify as honest gatekeepers.
For all the adrenaline in the pre-interval stretch, Uriyadi 2 loses steam in the second half with no redeeming quality whatsoever. Vijay opts to test our emotional chords as endless stretches of people dying, vomiting blood and other bodily fluids or struggling to breathe dominate the opening of the second half. After that, Vijay loses his way in a sea of montages that try to wrap up the film. Uriyadi 2 uses Uriyadi’s stylistic choices, throwing us into future events without warning and then going over them again to show how we got there. The execution here is inorganic, it’s as if we are rushing through months of events in a matter of days. There is no communication, only implementation and mindless violence to go with it.
Vijay Kumar’s film becomes an inelegant polemic, his politics – while on a side that demands integrity – superficial and generic. Ironically, the film ends up like a politician’s fiery speech, spelling out every detail that rings true as mere words, something Vijay Kumar probably would have liked to avoid. In trying to break the pot, he’s ground it to nothingness.
The Uriyadi 2 review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.