Khuda Haafiz Agni Pariksha movie review: A full-on Vidyut Jammwal jamboree

Khuda Haafiz Agni Pariksha movie review: A full-on Vidyut Jammwal jamboree

Khuda Haafiz 2 starts with the traumatised wife of a software engineer struggling for normalcy. For those who haven’t seen the first part, or have forgotten the goings-on, she had been engulfed in a flesh trader pipeline in a fictional middle eastern country, and he had embarked on a mission impossible to rescue her.

No spoilers here, it’s all in part one, which had gone straight to a streamer when it came out in 2020, in the middle of the lockdown. In the sequel too, what passes for a plot is just an excuse to hang a full-on Jammwal jamboree; like the first edition, this one also goes full tilt at the high-octane action, the reason why this film exists.

Khuda Haafiz 2 opens with Nargis (Shivaleeka Oberoi) in a deep funk, Sameer (Vidyut Jammwal) trying very hard to get her back on track, and the arrival of a sweet little girl lighting up their life. But the things that can go wrong do so with a vengeance: the little girl vanishes, as does the 15-year-old who is with her. A group of snarly teenage boys in a moving van, the scared-out-of-their-wits girls cowering in their corners, the camera tracking from overhead: there is no doubt in our minds that nothing good can come out of it. And it doesn’t. The rest of the film focusses on Jammwal doing what he does best: turning into an efficient, effective battering ram, attached to a couple of set expressions– it’s either a smile or a bulging of the eyes and furrowing of the brows– whether it is in a prison yard in Lucknow, or in a villain’s hideout in Egypt.

Oberoi and Jammwal reprise their parts, no surprise there. The real casting surprise here is a female don played by Sheeba Chadhha, who likes her paan fresh, her girls submissive, and her milk raw, minus sugar. This is an interesting little flourish, and you wish more was done to make her menacing. For an intelligent actor like Chaddha, to pull off a Bollywood campy number with conviction is hard, unless she has been written better. One exchange though, between her and Oberoi, comes close to being whistle-worthy.

I enjoyed Danish Hussain’s cameo, as a hardcore ‘quaidi’ (prisoner) who is on the side of the angels. Like Annu Kapoor in the first edition, Hussain buys into the squelchy, ultra-violent core of this movie, which like its previous edition, jumps into its gory set-pieces with relish, embracing its B movie roots. There are portions when the bloodiness becomes excessive, just like they had in the first part: how much arterial blood is too much arterial blood?

What is completely unconscionable is a scene when the camera swoops in sickeningly close to the battered and torn body of the little girl. A man with a conscience, anchor-reporter Ravi Kumar (Tailang, busy channelling his inner Ravish Kumar) tells his cameraman to stop shooting, and it’s a scene which should get the audience cheering. In all decency, the film’s cinematographer should have, too. Also in urgent need to be deep-sixed: Moharram scenes with those whips and lashes and bloody backs, and abattoirs-with-carcasses turning into a ‘kabristan’, led by kohl-eyed, sword-carrying, bearded-skull-capped characters (Bhattacharya). Stereotypical, lazy writing which pulls down some of the not-so-bad zippy parts of the movie, whose only virtue is that it is not let up pace.

The climactic chase involving SUVs and gun-toting baddies takes place in the shadow of the Sphinx, and a leading man who seems to have internalised the mantra — see neck, will slice. But like in the first part, and the way this one ends, which leaves us in no doubt that there will be a third, no one has bothered answering that question: how does a software engineer turn into roaring Rambo? Does he have a secret life that we are not aware of? Maybe the third part will give us those answers.

Khuda Haafiz Agni Pariksha movie cast: Vidyut Jammwal, Shivaleeka Oberoi, Sheeba Chaddha, Danish Hussain, Rajesh Tailang, Dibyendu Bhattacharya
Khuda Haafiz Agni Pariksha movie director: Faruk Kabir
Khuda Haafiz Agni Pariksha movie rating: 2 stars

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