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Times of India
Raghuvaran tries to lead a change in the corporate world but his righteousness irks an egotistical businesswoman who becomes hell-bent on taking him down.
Some films sell stories, some sell stars. VIP 2: Lalkar is the latter and it makes no bones about it. It bends over backwards to accommodate its lead actor’s skill-set and presents him with multiple opportunities to grow as the mass-hero, Raghuvaran.
Raghu (Dhanush) is fresh off the success of a slum-rehabilitation project; he’s even won a Best Engineer award. Just as he’s inching closer to the goal of starting his own construction firm, he makes an enemy out of the ruthless and bratty businesswoman, Vasundhara (Kajol), by refusing to work with her. A fundamental difference in ideologies leads to inflamed egos, and Raghu and Vasundhara face off for the rest of the movie’s runtime.
That south Indian potboilers play at a slightly higher pitch than their Hindi counterparts is a fact. But one expects a basic level of competent storytelling to make up for the tonal and cultural differences. The dialogue, if paraphrased as opposed to translated, can remain meaningful and funny; the dubbing, if moderated, can temper the mood. Unfortunately, VIP 2: Lalkar offers no such compromises.
In its effort to make room for Dhanush’s swagger, it often fails to exercise restraint. The lines are thoughtlessly translated; the scenes with Raghu's wife and colleagues are especially accentuated. And the film also has a paradoxical view of women; on one hand, Raghu refuses to let his wife work, sings a whole song about women being troublesome and threatens to beat-up his wife in a drunken stupor. On the other, he deems himself the savior of fallen women everywhere and thumps woman-beaters. Kajol’s Vasundhara is also made to look villainous for being a powerful woman who is in charge of her life.
The redeeming factor here is Dhanush, who is nothing if not charming. How he beats up goons who are thrice as big as him, is a mystery worthy of Sherlock’s time. Kajol plays Vasundhara with grit. The movie drops its aesthetic and gives you a surprisingly sweet conclusion.
In spite of its issues, it may work for people seeking star-powered entertainers. But otherwise, it gets lost in translation.
Fans of the mobile game Stick Fight will love this film. For when this film's lead, Dhanush bashes up his adversaries — literally five times his size — it is a feat that demonstrates that impossible is nothing. A little luck, a lot of talent and a superstar relation is all it takes, after all. A dubbed version of the Tamil film Velai Illa Pattadhari 2, Lalkar is about a common man (who also happens to be a talented civil engineer), standing up against an arrogant construction tycoon. While the premise may seem like a rehash of Laadla, this one is even more dated and regressive than the 90s masala flick.
The film revolves, rotates and does the Macarena around Raghuvaran (Dhanush), the brightest engineer to have graced the world of construction. But when he rejects a job offer from Vasundhara Parameswaran (Kajol) of Vasundhara Constructions, he summons her wrath. Out of spite, she takes over all the contracts initially assigned to Anita Constructions — Raghuvaran's modest employer. When Raghuvaran is forced to quit, he decides to set up his own. But not before he can stump his adversary with some brain-boiling dialoguebaazi. Soon, with a little help from the "youth" of the country (played by extras in their 40s), he turns entrepreneur.
Raghuvaran is also a family man and relies on his father (Samuthirakani) for advice, ducks his wife Shalini (Amala Paul) when he returns home drunk and can always count on his trusted colleague and friend Azhagusundaram (Vivek). The film's turning point involves the illegal construction of an amusement park which risks several lives, given its proximity to a certain jheel. Needless to say, Raghuvaran and his followers protest against this construction. When cops arrive to contain them, they can't employ lathi-charge because the protestors introduce themselves as engineers and threaten to post videos on social media if things turn sour. This is a noble message to kids who underestimate the power of a common engineer. Cram-up and crack that entrance test and you'll be rewarded with immunity from lathi-charge. Force field, no thank you.
That Dhanush aspires to model himself on South Indian superstar Rajinikanth is more than obvious in this film. From his manner of packing in one-liners to his body language, everything is distinct. Incidentally, he's even flaunting a beard in this film, similar to the mighty Thalaiva. While he can slip into a range of characters with ease, playing a larger-than-life messiah of the people, like he does here, reduces him to a caricature of a superhero. Kajol manages well as a snooty grump and keeps her eyebrows raised through a large part of this film to convey her character's intimidating persona. Director Soundarya Rajinikanth gives us yet another Sundayafternoon watch on the tele that delivers on the formula but doesn't extend it any further.
South Indian dubs are typical — high on sappy emotion and drained off logic. But when you're signing up for khari biscuit, you know it will work great with chai but it won't be a French Biscotti.