Gayam 2 is a lot like milking a really old cow for the zillionth time. It's hard to understand what sets it really apart from the glut of goon-themed movies around if it didn't piggyback on the success of Gayam. As you watch it, you gradually warm up to the fact that the makers simply wanted to create a normal goon-thriller, and, as an after thought, decided to play on whatever nostalgia they can draw off the occasion.
What the film tries to do is evolve into a satire on a certain politician responsible for much chaos in present-day AP politics, but ends up only as a collection of a few interesting bits spread far and wide apart.
Almost all of these bits belong to Kota Srinivasa Rao, who, you realize, quickly becomes the sole reason the film is moving. Kota - solidly dependable as always - is such an integral part of the audience engagement that it's more than evident that Gayam 2 is much lesser than the actor.
The story begins with a restaurant owner Ram (Jagapathi Babu) in Bangkok, who is living a picture-perfect life with his wife Vidya (Vimala Raman) and his kid. He is a spitting image of Durga (Jagapathi), who was Gayam's protagonist. Back in India, Guru Narayan (Kota Srinivasa Rao) watches TV footage of Ram being arrested because he finished off some goons who messed with his restaurant.
He sends his lawyer Chary (Tanikella Bharani) and his son to Bangkok to find out whether he's Durga. What fuels Guru Narayan is his cutthroat ambition to become CM at any cost, and he wants to make sure it's not Durga because that will mean the end of his career - and him.
Gayam worked because this wasn't a common theme in Telugu cinema those days, and also because Ram Gopal Verma was then in his element. Neither does Gayam 2 have that freshness going for it, nor is it even directed by RGV - not that he's churning out masterpieces these days anyway.
So you have an entire half of the movie that is not really a Factory product as much as it aspires to be one. Jerky and contrived love scenes between Ram and Vidya, semi-semi-menacing villain sequences, and a slow plot make it a rather bland affair.
The second half is a much better deal, because it has Kota firing up the party. The sub-plot surrounding Guru Narayan is a rather unabashed spoof on the entire drama surrounding an issue that rocked the state early this year, and for a while, the spotlight moves away from Ram.
If you haven't watched Gayam, you won't be lost - the film is easy to catch up on anyway, and there's a little recap to help matters. Revathi is brought back in an unflattering cameo, but it's a pleasure to watch her.
Tanikella doesn't have many brilliant lines, but as always, he makes every dialogue sound like learned prose. Indeed, the film makes you fascinated with how both he and Kota are ageless as actors. Jagapathi is in a role that he seems comfortable with and that audiences are comfortable seeing him in, and he's pretty good, as is Vimala Raman.
Ilayaraja's songs are done with even before you can sink into the fact that this is an Ilayaraja soundtrack. They're the kinds of tunes that you must get used to to like. The visuals aren't as innovative as other Factory products, but the film is engaging enough to make up for the fact.
You could watch Gayam 2 if you're eager to see what's next, but a better way to enjoy it is to not be too eager.