F2: Fun and Frustration

Language: Telugu

Cast: Venkatesh, Varun Tej, Tamannaah Bhatia

Director: Anil Ravipudi

Venkatesh’s most popular comedies from the first half of the last decade – Nuvvu Naaku Nachav and Malliswari – still draw in hordes of television audiences, for they tickle the funny bone without a pause. With F2, Anil Ravipudi wants to take us back to that space, but he gets lost in the chaotic plot he builds.

F2 begins on a funny note with Venky (Venkatesh) rebuking Varun (Varun Tej) for attacking the policemen on his own without allowing Venky to showcase his machismo. It plays out like a tussle between Venkatesh’s legacy and Varun Tej’s rise as an actor. Since their screen names are their real names, it’s tough to look beyond the obvious. In any case, Venky keeps breaking the fourth wall by talking to the camera directly. It doesn’t come across as an unnecessary gimmick as the genre readily gives them the scope to go overboard.

Venkatesh’s age has been a running joke since he starred as “Pellikani” Prasad (Bachelor Prasad doesn’t do justice to the word; it actually means Prasad has crossed the marriageable age) in Malliswari. The joke became bigger in his 2010 release, Namo Venkatesa. In F2, though, it’s reduced to a scene where Venky, while buying vegetables with a bunch of women, says he cannot wait any longer to get married as he’s getting old. The line is delivered with a fitting visual representation that expresses his eagerness to find a wife as soon as possible.

Humorous comments, like these, are made thoroughly enjoyable initially. And when Harika’s (Tamannaah) grandmothers (played by Annapoorna and Y Vijaya) come up with witty repartee to shoot down Venky’s high-handedness, it’s really fun. Frustration, however, soon begins as the film rolls down the hill of husband-wife squabbles.

Varun’s storyline, which runs somewhat parallelly, has Jhansi playing his mother, and Priyadarshi, as his friend. This portion could have brought the roof down if Jhansi and Priyadarshi were used well. They are, after all, the top stars in this genre. But Ravipudi isn’t interested in them. He sticks to his leads instead and gives more room to focus on the love-track between Varun and Honey (Mehreen) to show how the former is going to suffer the same fate as Venky’s.

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Venky is an MLA’s assistant and there’s no clear job description for what Varun does in the movie. But Venky and Varun decide to fly off to Europe at the suggestion of a third-wheeler (Rajendra Prasad) to forget all their troubles. The lack of coherence isn’t the only problem here. It’s also the lack of temerity to develop male and female characters outside the box of stereotypes that adds to the woes.

The first half of the film acts as a notice board for unhappy husbands and boyfriends, whereas the latter half, which goes downhill, has messages that are framed in the styles of those WhatsApp forwards that one deletes without reading. Why does every filmmaker feel the need to distribute pamphlets with instructions on them?

Varun Tej has never dabbled in full-fledged comedies till now. I could sense that his comic timing was a little off when he was on the screen along with the 80s star.

Tamannaah and Mehreen do look like sisters, but F2’s overt male-gaze doesn’t permit their characters to become the cheerleaders of entertainment. The jokes are not always on Harika and Honey, as they pull the men’s legs every now and then; nevertheless, the situations run out of steam as the movie shifts to Europe. All of them are in a mansion owned by a big shot (played by Prakash Raj) and the men device one faulty trick after another to get back to the good books of their lovers.

F2 doesn’t pump in freshness despite the presence of Vennela Kishore, Prudhvi Raj, Subbaraju, Srinivas Reddy, and Satyam Rajesh in the last hour. And with the climactic stretch never seeming to end, I found myself waiting for the end credits to show up.

Rating:   star

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