That Billa 2 has been one of the most anticipated Tamil movies this year is something almost everybody would agree. This is not surprising at all considering that Billa/Don as a franchise has worked well so far in all the versions across languages. Considering that announcements of both Don 2 and Billa 2 were made around the same time, comparisons also cropped up with respect to how each of them would turn out to be & what sort of influence would Don 2 have on Billa 2 if any ( considering Don 2 came out before Billa 2, similar to Don coming out before Billa ). Thankfully later on it was revealed that Don 2 would be a sequel while Billa 2 would be a prequel. After Vishnuvardhan stepped out of the project to focus on Panjaa with Pawan Kalyan the movie was lying in limbo for a while before the producers roped in Chakri Toleti to helm the project. Once again it was time for people to start comparing and wondering if Chakri could do even half as good a job that Vishnu did with Billa.
Nearly a year after last year’s mega success Mankatha released, its time for Ajith’s next release, Billa 2. While I did go in with a lot of hope I also kept in mind the fact that its directed by Chakri Toleti who in his previous film ( Unnai Pol Oruvan/Eenadu ) had a template ( that of A Wednesday ) to work upon whereas here he had to more or less work from scratch. Also what made it difficult was the fact that Billa being a popular franchise/brand there had to be relevant connect between Billa 2 and Billa. So does the film go on to meet/exceed expectations? Or does it disappoint? And does Chakri deliver? Well these are questions I’d like to cover in the rest of the post.
The movie begins with David Billa (Ajith) coming in as a refugee to South Tamil Nadu and living in a refugee camp. The camp is under the supervision of a tyrant (Krishna Kumar) with whom Billa locks horns. It’s also here at the camp that Billa finds the company of likeminded people which mainly includes Ranjith (Yog Japee). A mission that was originally meant to turn fatal for Billa and Ranjith goes in their favour and that’s when they earn the good will of Annachi ( Ilavarasu ) and begin smuggling diamonds. A chance encounter with Kota ( Manoj K.Jayan ) and later his boss Abbasi ( Sudhanshu Pandey ) works out well for Billa and he shifts base to Goa and starts working with Abbasi. That’s when Billa gets in contact with Dimitri (Vidyut Jamwal ), an international arms dealer based out of Boravia, Georgia. While Billa wants to work along with Dimitri, Abbasi is not in favour.
Here is when Billa decides to go on his own path and the movie then moves ahead and focuses on how Billa progresses and also how he tackles the people who are against him. Truth be told there’s nothing unique about the plot as such. And the collaborative writing (by Chakri Toleti, Sarath Mandava, Jaffer Mohammed and Era Murukan) at places seems to have got a bit haywire as the focus is clearly on connecting the dots and establishing the link between this film and Billa. And as a fellow author here, Jox John pointed out there also liberal borrowings from Scarface but thankfully somehow they’ve managed to overall keep the proceedings rooted enough to get the connect right.
The film does start off in a very impressive note. The fight scene at the beginning sets up the tempo and this is followed by the opening credit sequence which is brilliant and conveys the entire past history of David Billa right from his early childhood days, till the moment when he lands up as a refugee seeking asylum. From there on Billa’s gradual transformation into the suave and dreaded underworld leader is neatly established. The dialogues are subtle but carry enough ammunition to please Ajith’s fans. Sample this for example “Ennoda nanbana irukkarudhuku oru thaguthiyum vendam, aana edhiri aa irukkarudhukku,thaguthi venum “(to be my friend one needs no qualifications/status but to be my enemy one one needs it ) or ‘Dai Een vazhkayil oovaru nalum, oovaru nimushumam, oovaru nodiyum, nanna sethukanathu da… ‘(Every day, every minute and every second of my life has been sculpted by me )
In a film which features an extremely popular hero it’s always difficult to do justice to the supporting characters but thankfully Chakri Toleti has managed to take care of that aspect reasonably well. The connect with Vishnuvardhan’s Billa is further established with the presence of Ranjith and Jagdish (Rahman) who play important characters in the earlier Billa. While over here Rahman is seen in just a single scene Yog Japee who plays Jagdish plays an integral part of the proceedings over here. The other gangsters like Abbasi, Dimitri and Kota also get significant presence in the film.
Yog Japee is efficient as he was in Billa and it’s interesting to see Sudhanshu Pandey playing a slightly elderly character with reasonable ease. Vidyut Jamwal as the Dimitri is a surprise choice as the Russian arms dealer. While it’s good to see Dimitri play a proper Russian by speaking either in Russian or in heavy accented English (thank God we don’t see him speaking in Tamil ) it would have been good to see him doing more stunts knowing what he’s capable of . Manoj K.Jayan , Ilavarasu and Krishna Kumar also do their parts convincingly.
But none of the female characters carry any depth in the film. Be it Janaki Sabesh who plays Ajith’s sister, Parvathy Omanakuttan who plays Jasmine, Billa’s niece who harbors a crush on Billa or Bruna Abdullah as Sameera a typical moll who gets to flaunt her body more than mouth dialogues . If the opening credits were impressive then also look out for the way the ‘Unakkule Mirugam’ song (sung by Ranjith) unfolds on screen- a mix of graphic novel style coupled with still shots with a blood red tinge, very well done indeed. Talking about the music Yuvan’s work ( lyrics for all songs by Na.Muthukumar ) is good in parts. Songs like ‘Yedho Mayakkam’ ( sung by Yuvan Shankar Raja, Tanvi Shah, Suvi Suresh ) and ‘Gangster’ ( sung by Yuvan Shankar Raja, Stefny ) are good but compared to the soundtrack of Billa the soundtrack of Billa 2 is a bit disappointing.
Another plus point to the film is the rich production values and for that a big credit goes to the cinematography by R.D.Rajasekhar. Be it the interesting outdoor shots of Goa or Georgia ( which looks picture postcard like ) or the interior shots especially in the 1st half, the camera work lights up the screen and gives a much needed support to the film overall. The pace is slightly uneven especially in the 2nd half but at a total run time of just 129 minutes the film does manage to maintain momentum almost throughout the duration. But one must admit that there could have been a lot more edginess to the plot especially in the 2nd half after the film begins on a rather impressive note.Another aspect to be appreciated is the attention to details by and large with respect to the location or the period being referred to. For example towards the 2nd half one can notice people using mobile phones but the older and bulkier ones, not the flashy ones seen today which indicate that the period referred to was a few years ago.The art direction and SFX work also add to the film looking visually appealing. The stunts are all well done and the climax helicopter fight while being interesting could have been developed even better.
But in spite of everything if the film does manage to keep you engaged till the end then its only because of one man, Ajith. He easily fits into the character of David Billa and appears so casual yet comfortable in the role that it looks like he has just taken off from where he left of in Billa around 5 years ago. As the story progresses there is a physical transformation that’s visible in his appearance and Ajith appears totally comfortable with his trademark dialogue delivery. It also helps when the director realizes what his hero’s comfort zone is and utilizes him accordingly. Now if only Chakri Toleti could have also conjured up a plot that would have been a lot more interesting it would have made for an even more engrossing film.
On an overall basis this is a film which would appeal to Ajith fans certainly and for those who watch it without a lot of expectation but probably for those expecting something extraordinary considering the hype surrounding the film, Billa 2 may just be a shade too disappointing.