wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)
Mahesh Kothare returns with Zapatlela 2 in 3D, proudly wearing the tag of being the first Marathi film in 3D. If you enjoyed the original film, then you might just have fun with this sequel. The terrifying Tatya Vinchu is still fun, and even though Lakshya is absent this time round, Adinath Kothare fills his boots surprisingly well. If silly, scary dolls are your thing, submit yourself to Tatya’s menace!Read more
So that’s how it feels. A screen playing a Marathi film packed to capacity, an audience hooting and cheering in the first show on the day of release. Twenty years after Tatya Vinchu terrified Lakshya (and the audience) with the sheer audacity of his existence, he’s back, this time with the third dimension in tow. Despite being an unabashed fan of the original film, I reminded myself that I was only about 8 when I watched it first. I walked in to the theatre this time, with my palm at the ready, not too far from my face. Yes, I must confess, I was expecting to ‘facepalm’.
For the uninitiated, twenty years back, dreaded gangster Tatya Vinchu, in his quest for immortality, transferred his soul into a doll in his dying moments with the help of a spell taught to him by Baba Chamatkar. The doll, owned by ventriloquist Lakshmikant alias Lakshya, wreaks havoc before it is ultimately shot down by Inspector Mahesh Jadhav. Sounds ridiculous? Well, if you had watched the film when it came out, you’d know just how much fun the film was, despite the corn-and-cheese.
Surprisingly, despite predictable buffoonery, continuous madcap comic horror (if there is such a thing) and the absence of the late Lakshmikant Berde – one half of the soul of the earlier film (pun unintended) - Zapatlela 2 makes for a fun children’s film, especially if the audience were children when the original film came out. Yes, it is a silly film that rarely pretends to be anything but. However, sometimes, just sometimes, the hackneyed phrase, ‘leave your brains at home’, genuinely comes in handy.
My palm and my face, then, rarely met during the film, and when they did, it was out of some genuine indulgent fun. This time round, Tatya Vinchu is hunting for Lakshmikant’s son Aditya, who has grown up to become a mechanical engineer, but in his heart of hearts wants to be a ventriloquist like his father. Aditya, of course, is blissfully unaware of the events of twenty years ago.
Really, I cannot emphasize how much your reaction to this film depends on whether you were a fan of the original film or not. That ragtag doll voiced by the legendary Dilip Prabhavalkar took on a personality of its own, engraving itself in memory. The doll looks freakishly the same, and that moronic expression on its face still has the ability to strike comedy-tinged terror in your heart.
Zapatlela 2 works to an extent, in spite of having virtually no plot and a number of pointless subplots revolving around the ventriloquist, his guard, a lady journalist and a romantic track involving Aditya; it works because of its relentless physical comedy. Also, Adinath Kothare, son of director Mahesh Kothare, does a fine job as Aditya. Mahesh Kothare himself reprises his role as Mahesh Jadhav, now Commissioner, and he does it well.
Again, the cherry-on-top is the menacing return of the doll, voiced by Dilip Prabhavalkar. He’s still angry and bloodthirsty, and he’s still capable of taking on full-grown men with ease. The doll animation is marginally better this time, but even if it wasn’t, that would be the least of your concerns with this film. Also, I was quite surprised to notice that the makers haven’t compromised on technique here. The film is fairly well-executed, in the manner in which it is shot and cut.
And if you’re going to enjoy ludicrousness, then you may as well enjoy the shameless exploitation of the third dimension. Objects are thrust and thrown at you with alarming frequency, and I could hear children in the cinema hall particularly enjoying the experience. Let’s be clear; Zapatlela 2 is for fanboys and fangirls, and for their children, who are bound to have a good time. Take them along for a ride that Tatya Vinchu won’t let them forget. If you don’t fall in that category, then you’ve always got a palm and a face.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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