Khuda Haafiz: Chapter II - Agni Pariksha
Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Hindi film Khuda Haafiz 2 starring Vidyut Jammwal. It was somewhere during the first lockdown when films had just started premiering on OTT when a small film with a big heart made its way to the OTT giant Hotstar. It was so unfortunate that Khuda Haafiz was not even acknowledged by Hotstar initially and they started to only after a tweet by its lead Vidyut. And when the film was out, I was quite blown away by it. The plot was similar to Baaghi 3 but instead the treatment was much better rooted to reality. So your protagonist was a regular guy with any packs(only in reel, in real Vidyut is a killer of a fitness freak) and its realistic treatment won me over. But moreover I got to witmess a side of Vidyut which was rich in acting and a conscious effort to step out of his comfort zone.
So when Khuda Haafiz 2 Agni Pariksha was announced, I was slightly on the fence as I was confused whether this film is a proper sequel or just the second film in the franchise. On reading a bit on it, I got to know that this is a sequel in its truest sense. And that got me curious as to how the film would proceed. Now that I have finally watched it, here are my two cents on Khuda Haafiz 2.
Story & Screenplay
Khuda Haafiz 2 is essentially a revenge drama where the protagonist would go to any length to punish the perpretrators who kidnapped his daughter. The story is a typical mass masala entertainer but rooted in reality. To give you a perspective, this could so easily have been a story in the Baaghi franchise with the protagonist single handedly killing all the perpretrators. But such is the screenplay which is dangerously dark and much more believable thereby making it an interesting watch. The screenplay standing at about 150 minutes meant that it was overwhelming to begin with. But there is seldom a dull moment to the film’s credit.
I was pleasantly surprised at how the drama went to an extent of tapping into the psyche of the wife of the protagonist where she is recuperating from the trauma(<span;>from the incident from the first film). This itself gave the film a touch of realism inside of getting straight to the point. The way the world has been rebuilt is really interesting and engrossing with some nicely fleshed out characters grounded to reality. The emotions are also nicely setup which acts as a foundation for things to follow.
The screenplay slowly introduces the conflict and post that it takes you to some really dark and unexpected places. This could so easily have been disjointed but to the writer’s credit the flow of the drama is maintained so well. One thing leads to another leading upto a gut wrenching first hour.
Come the second hour, the brutal action begins. And there are seldom sights better than Vidyut Jammwal taking the fight to his opponent. Again there are three action set pieces which never go overboard or even play to strength of the protagonist. Instead, it keeps the realism in check throughout and within that space, creates a mind bongling sequence – first in jail and second on the streets of Lucknow. The one drawback which I felt was transporting the story suddenly to Cairo which did feel disjointed, gimmicky and extremely forced. Due to this, the final sequence was a tad underwhelming. But nevertheless, this was a screenplay which was deliciously dark and engaging.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are adequate but they definitely leave an impact. The music is highly underrated and has slipped under everyone’s radar. The songs are excellent here and blend well with the drama. Even an action set piece set against the background of a beautiful songbis hair raising! The BGM heightens many scenes thereby creating an ambience around it. The cinematography is excellent and aesthetically captures some of the most gory scenes along with splendis frames of the Pyramids in Cairo. Director Faruk Kabir definitely knows how to build a world of intrigue and add dark elements to it. His direction is phenomenal wherein he manages to hold your attention throughout.
The performances are very good here. Pawan Chopra and Siddharth Bharadwaj have their moments to shine. Saad Bilgrami and Ritik Ghanshani are first rate. Anushka Merchande and Monica Sharma both have a terrific screen presence and both make their presenxe felt. Rajesh Tailang as Ravi(probably a rendition of journalist Ravish Kumar) is natural to the core. It was a genius decision to cast Sheeba Chadha as the main antagonist. She is intimidating and absolutely wonderful to watch. Dibyendu Bhattacharya is exceptional and does a splendid job as does Danish Husain who is fabulous to watch. Rukhsar Rehman has a soothing presence as the doctor. Shivaleeka Oberoi as Nargis is an extremely talented actor and highly underrated. She is brilliant in the film particularly at the very beginning where she has to internalize her problems. She has a charming presence here which makes her affable. I really wish to watch more of her going forward. Which brings me to Vidyut Jammwal as Sameer. It is so heartening to see the actor move out of his comfort zone when his contemporaries are sticking to their strengths and in process making mindless films which have tanked. Instead, here he has tried to dismantle himself and slowly find his way up as far as action is concerned. And he delivers an endearing performance in one helluva character arc which also demanded a bit of his physicality. Kudos to the costume department for successfully hiding his eight pack abs and making him wear loose kurtas and an XL shirt which helped in fleshing out his character. And once again it is Vidyut Jammwal OP!
Khuda Haafiz 2 definitely springs in a surprise with its dark theme and a pretty interesting screenplay making it a pretty good watch! Available in a theatre near you.