In the first half of the 2018 mega-hit movie KGF Chapter 1, a dozen characters were introduced at breakneck speed. Sharp edits and slow-motion entries for all characters made it all a little confusing to follow initially. In addition to that, the story-telling structure involved jumping forward and backwards in time within a few milliseconds, which made the narrative denser than the story actually was. Yet, Rocky's rags-to-riches story caught the fancy of the movie audience all across India. Director Prashanth Neel successfully established Rocky as an anti-hero with a heart of gold in KGF Chapter 1. Rocky was shrewd, quick-witted, clever and remorselessly cruel. Yet, his infiltration into the Kolar Gold Mines and subsequent murder of the mine-lord Garuda, motivating the faceless workers to an uprising, elevated him to a status of a demigod. The transformation added an anchor to his character arc. And the audience started to root for Rocky after he had beheaded the villain of the mines.
The problem with KGF Chapter 2 starts with the fact that Rocky's character does not move upward or forwards. He tends to get greedier, darker and all the more wicked. Fueled by the desires of his dying mother, Rocky engages head-on with all the remaining stakeholders of the Gold Mines – Gurupandian, Andrews, Kamal, Virat – killing them as per the whims and fancy of the screenplay writer. He is confronted by the return of Adheera (played by the menacingly good Dutt). But the objective of Adheera is no different from Rocky himself. They both want total control of KGF and they pursue their conquest with unabashed violence. This display of violence has, however, been captured in an extraordinary manner. Sleek cinematography, expansive sets and deafening BGM all add to the charm of the film, making the time at the theatres worthwhile.
But under the guise of hoot-worthy dialogues and the towering stature of Rocky in his perfectly matching blazer, shirt and trousers, the director tells a story that is silly at its core. Rocky's henchmen are singled out and killed (in perfectly synchronized sequences) by Shetty's men. But, the screenplay wants the audience to believe that Rocky had more gangs of men at his disposal spread across the country. On separate occasions, the protagonist and the antagonist both get an opportunity to shoot the other. And yet they do not kill their enemy. They decide to wait till the climax of the movie to face each other in a display of brute masculine strength. Unfortunately, the steely, resolute Ramika Sen (who merely wants to eliminate the biggest smuggler of the nation) is portrayed as a villain in the story. Raveena Tandon plays the role perfectly, but the screenplay does not allow the Prime Minister to be a match for Rocky. Rocky is so insurmountably huge that he is shown to enter the Parliament, bathed in blood, gun in hand. The scene in the trailer had already made the audience crazy. However, in the film, the scene champions Rocky from a don or a smuggler to a terrorist. The nation kneels on screen and the audience cheers in the theatres. The toxic escapism that Prashanth Neel has offered in the movie is outright questionable.
The story completely discounts the aspects of the politics and trade of smuggled gold in favour of the swagger of the "anti-hero". Rocky is able to extract indiscriminate gold from the mines with the help of the people that he had rescued from Garuda's reign in Chapter 1. He makes their shanties livable. But it is unclear if it is an act of compassion or a mere fix to get them to work harder. The plot twists seem a matter of convenience and the men seem to exhibit violence in different forms throughout the film. The hint of romance sticks out like a sore thumb in the screenplay. The absolutely unconvincing romantic subplot involving Reena's character (played by the expressionless Srinidhi Shetty) is adjusted into the screenplay to merely provide an emotional aspect to the tale.
KGF Chapter 1 was a wonderful story that developed a gangster into a leader. Prashanth Neel's vision and ambition elevated the otherwise simple story to an enjoyable masala movie. Yash has played the part with a charm that is sinister and likeable at the same time. But Neel has not offered his character any growth in KGF Chapter 2. In Chapter 2, the director has invested in more action, more firepower and more masculinity. But he has, in an attempt to make the biggest blockbuster entertainer, compromised on story and plot. In this testosterone-filled universe, Prashanth Neel has concentrated all his might and resources on building the myth around Rocky. He keeps churning out one cinematically extravagant moment after another but without any emotional depth. The film is focused on the extremes that entertain the audience but do not hoist the venture as an unforgettable contribution to Indian cinema.