In a scene from Thothapuri: Chapter 2, the lead characters go to a theatre to watch the Kannada hit Neer Dose, helmed by Vijay Prasad, the director of this film. This meta touch underlines how Neer Dose has been a blessing and a curse for Prasad.
Neer Dose, which superbly blended adult comedy with issues of people considered outcasts, was a refreshing film. Prasad had the knack of showing loners becoming friends and fighting harsh discrimination in an emotionally rewarding way. Right from his debut, Sidlingu (which had Ramya as female lead), all his films are helped by an ensemble cast of seasoned performers.
But his downfall began when he repeated this formula in Petromax and Thothapuri: Chapter 1. The format of both films resembled that of Neer Dose. The familiarity was too hard to ignore, forcing people to lose faith in the filmmaker. Preachiness and his obsession with double entendres hit the roof in Thothapuri: Chapter 1, which spoke of religious harmony.
As expected, the first part, released in 2022, was about the lives of four characters from different backgrounds. Tailor Eere Gowda (Jaggesh), his assistant Nanjama who is from an oppressed caste, ‘Donne’ Rangamma (Veena Sundar), a hard-working breadwinner for the family, Shakeela Banu (Aditi Prabhudeva), and Victoria (Suman Ranganathan), a nun, formed the central characters of the film.
Thothapuri: Chapter 2 (Kannada)
Director: Vijay Prasad
Cast: Jaggesh, Veena Sundar, Aditi Prabhudeva, Dhananjaya, Suman Ranganathan
Runtime: 120 minutes
Storyline: Five friends from varied backgrounds fight religious discrimination and stereotypical judgements in society
The film, showcasing their friendships while exploring their individual stories, oscillated between long lectures on inclusivity and inappropriate placements of sexual innuendos. Perhaps the urge to jump on the bandwagon of sequels and franchises influenced the makers to split the film into two parts.
That said, Prasad redeems the sequel sufficiently enough, making it an involving film on an important theme. Having learned from his mistakes, he tones down the adult humour, becomes less of a moral advisor and more of a storyteller, fleshes out characters nicely, and delves deeper into the central conflict (which introduces a fresh character essayed by Dhananjaya).
This focused approach reveals Prasad’s strength in delivering poignant scenes involving commoners. The director doesn’t hold back while arraigning people’s mindset of upholding religion and caste over love and unity. Women talking candidly about alcohol and sex, a common feature in Prasad’s films, is also seen in Thothapuri: Chapter 2. The director even gives a peek into his ideology, perhaps, in a scene involving B R Ambedkar’s statue.
ALSO READ:‘Baanadariyalli’ movie review: This Ganesh, Rukmini Vasanth romance fails to hit the heights
Prasad is an important filmmaker, for not many can be as brave as him by showcasing a Hindu-Muslim love story in today’s times. If he can be less indulgent and tell relatable tales without resorting to a single template, the director can make films that generate conversations and leave a mark.
Thothapuri: Chapter 2 is currently running in theatres