In some parallel dimension we aren’t aware of, there must be theatre chains screening Mysskinin Jai Hind 2 and Mani Ratnamin Jai Hind 2 and Selvaraghavanin Jai Hind 2, and to avoid confusion, star and director Arjun appends his name to his movie: it’s called Arjunin Jai Hind 2. Not that there’s much doubt. There’s a scene featuring the national flag, and the plot itself is a rehash of Gentleman, one of Arjun’s biggest hits. The crux is quality education, which the poor don’t have access to. Also from that film are the two heroines – one nice, one naughty. For a while, I was pleasantly surprised by Nandini (Surveen Chawla), a demure Brahmin girl who isn’t draped in chiffon saris and positioned near industrial fans and asked to sing songs about ants that have invaded her body, the way Ranjitha was in the original Jai Hind. The romance between Nandini and Abhimanyu (Arjun) is mature, and when we first glimpse Nandini, we see a thaali. How wonderful, I thought, for this kind of mass-masala entertainer to telegraph, so early on, the unavailability of its heroine. And then we get the second half where a twenty-something student falls for Abhimanyu and imagines a dream duet where he circles around her in a fancy bike as she sways in a miniskirt. It’s a marvel one of our filmmakers hasn’t yet written that bestseller, How to Have It All.
Arjunin Jai Hind 2 is the kind of film about which you shrug and say, “Well, if you liked Jai Hind…” This isn’t exactly a sequel (the characters are different), but it’s suffused with the same vibe: how to do your bit for the nation while demonstrating your prowess in the martial arts. Don’t laugh. At least I didn’t during the action sequences, which are pretty well done. Arjun looks amazingly fit, and he actually seems to be executing these gravity-defying moves, without the help of wires. The narrative, too, is spry – at least up to a point – leaping back and forth, thanks to a series of flashbacks used to advance the plot. And then, perhaps realising that his core audience isn’t after education-oriented message-mongering, Arjun unleashes the rocket launchers. The film suddenly (one might say randomly) switches gears – it becomes a prison drama, and then we get a hostage-rescue scenario. But is there any point complaining about coherence or plausibility? If you have to watch a film about a one-man army, you could do worse than watch one with Arjun in it. He totally pulls it off. Of how many fifty-plus leading men can you say that?
* ants that have invaded her body = see here
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