Being manipulative is not an art all by itself. Knowing
when to use the skill - the manipulation of your manipulation - is what gives it an aura. And Tollywood's favourite Freudian spectacle, Arya, is quite high up that
And for the rest of us, it's fun to piggyback and look down at the rest of the world below. Maybe because every other situation belongs to him. Maybe because when he's not trying to make a situation belong to him, it only seems like a commercial break after which it still belongs to him. And maybe because he's just so darned cheerful about everything, commercial break or no.
Allu Arjun is back. And you're probably too absorbed in that fact to notice much else about Arya 2, which anyway is all about him.
The new Arya (Allu Arjun) is twice as complicated as Arya was. His primary one-sided obsession this time is his best friend Ajay (Navdeep). Ajay was the same orphanage as Arya was, but had the destiny to get adopted into an affluent family, and more importantly, to get away from Arya's possessiveness.
After demonstrations of how possessive Arya is exactly, both as a child and as a fully-grown tramp of an adult, we are taken to the main story. Ajay takes Arya into his organization after the latter makes
him do it (the Arya way, of course), where Arya puts on his incorrigibly best behaviour just so Ajay won't throw him out. He fakes his way to the Best Employee Award even, and Ajay, who's never really liked Arya, is seething with resentment.
The mind games begin when Geeta (Kajal Aggarwal), a new employee at the office, sets both their hearts aflutter. Courtship, defeat and hope follow for Arya, through the confines of his office and then through the menacing Seema landmines.
The comedy is the film's strength, and never lets up. There's a campy feel to most of the humour - like the spoofs on Rayalaseema - but some of the jokes are pretty elaborately constructed as well.
However, the hitch is that there's an unsettling plot twist looming in the second half, which does nothing much for a conservative Telugu sentiment, and even actually cheats the plot of further novelty. In fact, on the whole the story is predictable - especially if you know how Arya
ended; and also, ultimately it's Tollywood, where endings are locked - though the meanders it takes are what make you glad the man is finally back. Also, Arya's eccentricity takes on a slightly violent shade initially, but thankfully, that phases out soon.
Arya is a role with a combination of juvenility and intensity written into it, and it's nice to see Allu Arjun having fun in it. Navdeep has a sidelined character, though he seems ready for much more. Kajal Aggarwal's role is standard Tollywood-heroine fare, and while she doesn't exactly excite audiences, she's someone who actually acts.
There's a conspicuous absence of the regular battalion of comedians - only Brahmanandam is around, and that too, for the first half. Sayaji Shinde and, surprisingly, Ajay, take up some of the comedy track in the second half.
As for visuals, Arya 2 is undoubtedly a slickly made production. The overall design is as colourful and as cheerful as the promos have led you to believe, with the title song being one of the smartest portions of the film.
Devi Sriprasad's music, as usual, will remind you of every other movie of his, but is irresistibly hummable. Arjun's rubber-man antics and his impossible steps jazz up the songs further. Ringa Ringa is quite cleverly placed right at the end, but there's enough to do meanwhile.
For an audience starved of merry-making at the movies, this one could quite be the party whose invitation won't be chucked away so soon.