Cast: Prabhu Deva, Tamannaah, Nandita Swetha
Horror comedies in Indian cinema mostly follow a tried-and-tested template. And it usually involves a dozen slaps that are aimed at the comedian. Along with them, the presence of holy books and idols are a must since they’re the drivers that chase away the evil spirits in this done-to-death genre. Between the slaps and the mantras, come the scares and the laughs. Director Vijay doesn’t write a new book on how to make palatable horror-coms, but, he, nonetheless, plays with the tropes a bit. All the suspects are still there in this film, too; however, they seem a bit different.
The best scenes from 2016’s Devi gets a twist as the movie’s eponymous lead, Devi (Tamannaah), tries to come back to India with her husband, Krishna (Prabhu Deva), after unearthing the reasons for his peculiar behavior on the streets of Mauritius. They both board an India-bound flight and end up going back to the island nation instead. In the previous installment, Krishna’s efforts at deserting their fully-furnished apartment failed to yield any result. There also, the situations made it difficult for him to get out of the devil’s grip. Here, he himself is possessed by two lovesick men (in the terms of Tamil cinema, they’re soup boys) who died before they could quench their thirst from love streams.
Now that the spirits have got a human body to unleash trouble on their objects of affection–Sara (Nandita Swetha) and Isha (Dimple Hayathi)–they won’t turn their backs on a few silly points that are drawn up in a contract. First of all, there’s no provision in law to take a dead person’s spirit to court. None of the writers of the film has thought this through. And the characters also aren’t bothered with logics. Kovai Sarala, who plays a lawyer named Lalitha, must have at least raised this point, but she’s always busy screaming and voicing leftover opinions from the Muni series.
Vijay, who seems to have expected this comment beforehand, employs a dialogue that makes sure the viewers are not looking for logic. “See if there’s magic,” says the lawyer. That line isn’t thrown directly at us, but it still holds good, for the farcical nature of such screenplays allows us little time to gather our senses. When it works, there are going to be fireworks. Unfortunately, that happens rarely. Even in Devi 2, the number of lough-out-loud moments is only a handful. The scenes that bring Lalitha and Devi together, as sisters, to explain why Krish (the utterly unimaginative name they come up with, for Krishna) is acting weird and stalkerish towards Sara and Isha are genuinely hilarious.
They watch popular Tamil films, featuring Ajith, Vijay, and Suriya, and make up stories to tell the two gullible women. And, oh, they take inspiration from Arjun Reddy, too, since one of the ghosts is called Ranga Reddy.
Ranga appears as though he’s taught only one cuss word. Throughout the film, he keeps shouting, “Nee Amma”. Did he even watch Arjun Reddy when he was alive? And to make matters worse, Prabhu Deva’s heavily accented Telugu makes Ranga seem like Reddy (Kaikala Satyanarayana) from K. S. Ravikumar’s Panchatanthiram. It’s stupid, and not cute.
And the other ghost, Alex Britto uneasily switches from English to Tamil in the same breath. Simply put, Prabhu Deva hasn’t done full justice to the ghostly characters. Ruby (the spirit), in Devi, aspired to become a superstar in the film industry. There, Tamannaah’s natural body language helped her. But in the sequel, Prabhu doesn’t play to his strengths. If you want any further clarification on this particular topic, just take look at the difference between his freestyle dancing in ‘Sokkura Penne’ and his angry-face in the climax.
While I appreciate the amount of thought that has gone into sidelining the kid from the first part as there’s a thoroughly believable explanation, the surprises that spring up regarding the newly introduced characters in Devi 2 don’t live up to the hype. The cameos by Sonu Sood and RJ Balaji aren’t great on their own and the film would have probably looked the same in their absence.
Though the Devi universe is greener and funnier than the ones occupied by the characters of the Aranmanai and Muni series, there’s a gap in Tamil cinema that horror comedies can’t seem to fill.