Director: Vijay Milton
Cast: Samuthirakani, Krisha Kurup, Chemban Vinod Jose, Subiksha, Bharath Seeni, Esakki Bharath
What made Goli Soda (2014) successful and cemented cinematographer Vijay Milton’s status as a bankable director, was how the story revolved around underdogs and more importantly, kids who took down giants. The David(s) versus Goliath standoff is once again the essence of Goli Soda 2, which is not a sequel, but Vijay has made sure that apart from this common idea, everything else is different, including the actors, and the plot itself.
This film is about a basketball enthusiast Oli, who wants to join a company in order to play the game at a semi-professional level; an auto driver Siva, who wants to evolve from three wheels to four and become a cab owner; and Maran, a henchman, who wants to turn a new leaf and make an honest living. Their glue is Nadesan, an alcoholic medical shop owner (Samuthirakani in a role tailor-made for him). What’s common between Goli Soda 2 and its predecessor is that both the films are about people who want to improve their standard of living. “Thaguthiku meeri aasai padale, thaguthiya uyarthika aasai padrom,” says one of the characters and that’s the core of Goli Soda 2. And obviously, there needs to be a conflict and if it’s just one baddie in the first part, here, we’ve got three — one for each lead.
Just like the first part of the franchise, the primary cast is filled with new faces. But seasoned actors such as Samuthirakani, Malayalam actor Chemban Vinod Jose and veterans Rohini and Rekha bring a lot to the table. Considering how most of Samuthirakani’s films have him speaking pages in the name of ‘giving a message’, Vijay has given us an interesting twist here. Every time he starts saying “Vazhkaile ellarukum oru vaipu varum,” he gets interrupted. Samuthirakani fits perfectly in the shoes of Nadesan, and the dignified portrayal of his sentimental relationship with another character is laudable.
With the first half used to establish the characters and place them in troubled waters, the second half, as expected, is where the protagonists avenge themselves. But Vijay keeps the first half as engaging as the rest of the film, with some clever writing that involves intertwining the three different leads and their stories. Right after the intermission, the stories converge, and the way this is shot reminds us of the interval block in Puthupettai, where Kokki Kumar and his gang ride off into the horizon, escaping the clutches of their enemies. And oh, there’s an extended cameo from Gautham Menon, who casually proves that directors, as always, make good actors.
The dialogues, powerful yet delivered in a matter-of-fact manner, work like magic. Case in point is a powerful line: “Ezhmai-eh olikirenu ezhaigalai olikirange.” Vijay also talks about the ills of caste and politics without divulging from the main story. He also stays true to the franchise by using the same dilapidated church that we saw in the first part, and shows the protagonists lying low by taking different jobs before coming together once again for the final showdown.
Achu Rajamani’s Pondattee track is the pick of the album (though it could’ve been picturised better) and the background score is quite useful too. What doesn’t work is the casting of the newcomers in the lead. Though it was a major reason for the success of the first part, in Goli Soda 2, the performances are rather lacklustre here. Among the three leads, Essaki Bharath is probably the most convincing. The action sequences, too, feel over the top and lack the realism of the first part. On the whole, Goli Soda 2 perfectly captures the essence of what worked for its predecessor, and though imperfect, is definitely a good watch.