Cast: Krishna Sekhar, Bindhu Madhavi, Kaali Venkat
Kazhugu, the spiritual predecessor to this week's Kazhugu 2, had a plot so fresh you just couldn't go wrong with. I only watched the film recently but I've not been able to forget a friend's narration of its basic plot line from five years ago. And that's because the film is about a team that make it their business to trek down the mountains of Kodaikanal to retrieve bodies of people who've committed suicide, either due to love failure, financial woes or familial issues. Details like how this team decides their rates based on how far below the bodies have fallen and their overall indifferent, business-like approach to death made for a bunch of fascinating characters. Even Krishna's Sera, with his alcoholism and an almost animalistic behaviour trait, had a very distinct quality to it. So it further worked for the film when a woman (played by Bindu Madhavi) falls for, what seems like, a unlovable person. In a sense, Kazhugu made up for what it lacked in finesse with texture.
Which is what I was expecting with Kazhugu 2 as it brings the same team back together. If the first film was set on the hills, we've now moved to the forests. Johny (Krishna) and Kaali (Kaali Venkat) are mistaken for hunters and taken to protect a group of tree fellers from wild dog attacks. They are petty criminals and are looking at this job as a hideout to stay as far away from the police as possible. But Merly (Bindu Madhavi), like Kavi in the first film, is magnetically drawn to Kreshna's Johny, for no apparent reason apart from the fact that we're watching the sequel. And even though the film is built-up to become an man vs animal conflict, that plot line is quickly abandoned and those wild dogs remain as inconsequential to the film as Yashika Anand, the film's item song girl.
It even momentarily dumps the love story bit when it conveniently becomes a minor heist thriller when a local MLA, of all people, stumbles upon, pots of gold buried in the forest. Now if I were to say that such ideas belong in the films of the 70's, it would be a insult to that decade.
Given that it's a sequel, even major plot points come with a feeling of déjà vu, which makes it even harder to keep you invested. The twists don't work, the performances are all over the place and the film tries too hard to tell one too many stories at once. Come to think of it, the title Kazhugu (vulture) fits the first film perfectly because it is, after all, about scavengers who feed off the dead. But the title doesn't even make sense here. All it does here is spoil the good name the first part had created for being a very unusual love story.