I finally watched Velai Illa Pattadhaari 2. I knew I shouldn’t have, but I keep making these mistakes. I encourage myself to catch up with Tamil cinema syllabus, and then I realize I must now spend time watching a movie I like, to erase memories of movies that were difficult to sit through. The circle of life and so on.
VIP 2 is disappointing on several levels, and it makes the first movie feel like a masterpiece. You find yourself thinking, at least we had an underdog to root for. At least the villain was truly villainous. At least there was a love story. At least there was some humour. Instead, in VIP 2, we find the following:
An accomplished, smart and rich woman reduced to an arrogant stereotype who needs to be schooled by our Feminist Hero Raghuvaran. He teaches her men and women are the same, and while men are physically stronger, women tend to be stronger emotionally. Stop saying you are a successful woman with surprise, he admonishes her. None of his (character’s) feminist leanings ring true. As a bonus, she is taught Tamil too. One cannot expect posh businesswomen to know Tamil of course, and they must be made fun of for this.
A dentist reduced to the type of nagging housewife everyone loves to lampoon. She is responsible for feeding the three men in the house, cleaning up, preparing the monthly grocery list and checking if her husband’s breath smells of alcohol. She yells all the time, until her husband becomes an unemployed civil engineer, and then she suddenly remembers she used to love him. Apparently his unemployment brings back fond memories of their erstwhile romance. She suggests that she should start working again to ease the financial situation of their household, and her husband’s immediate response is But why should you. She counters with, Well I used to be a dentist, I didn’t marry you just to make dosais for you. Unfortunately, this setup is not explored further. He says he cannot understand her at all, which is the normal stance these men and these movies take. If popular culture was to be believed, women are more difficult to understand than quantum physics. Who needs Wife Jokes on Whatsapp when we have movies like this?
A horde of unemployed engineering graduates are willing to give up paid employment at a large company, because they believe in friendship and loyalty and other such constructs which are the domain of the Tamil Cinema Hero. They will work for him for free, or for one cigarette and a cup of tea. There is a lone woman in this horde too, probably as an appeasement strategy for people like me who complained that the first movie effectively ignored female unemployed engineering graduates.
Using the 2015 Chennai Floods as a backdrop for the hero to launch into a punch dialogue about how natural disasters do not discriminate the way people do. Simultaneously, he also gets to criticize the aforementioned businesswoman for wanting to eat at a five star hotel while parts of the city are drowning and starving.
This movie regurgitates tired tropes and tries to piggyback on the success of the first. The biggest surprise VIP 2 has managed is that a woman has directed it.