“Is it funny-funny or misogynistic funny?” a friend asked when I said that I saw a lot of people laughing in the hall. And it’s true that sometimes even women in the audience are conditioned to accept the sexism in movies, focusing instead on the brighter side of things. Take for example, the preachy five minutes during F2 when Nasser’s character (a cop in Europe – European cops speak such bad English, because it is a Telugu movie) tells Venky (Venkatesh) and Varun (Varun Tej) that a wife only looks for a little love. (This idea that homemakers have dedicated their lives to their husband, and want to share everything with him, since they have no one else and get bored at home, is as outdated as an Ambassador car.)
F2 is all about Venky, married to Harika (Tamannaah Bhatia) and Varun, engaged to his girlfriend Honey (Mehreen Pirzada). Both the guys are frustrated with the way things pan out for them. Harika and Honey, and their families, entirely dominated by women, are the perpetual villains in the first half, making the lives of Venky and to some extent, Varun, miserable. Insert lots of borderline sexist, typical husband-wife-marriage jokes here. To teach the women a lesson, Venky and Varun along with their neighbour (Rajendra Prasad), who has two wives and is frustrated with them, fly off to Europe. Just when their male egos are satisfied, Harika and Honey find a rich, eccentric, and ego-centric businessman (Prakash Raj) looking to marry his sons to sisters. Venky and Varun try their best to prevent ‘their’ women from being taken away by someone else.
F2 is almost the Telugu version of any Housefull movie, with the obscenity and double-pronged dialogue toned down. But the caricatures are insipid. Venky is the PA to an MLA, but all his resources are spent on being frustrated about his life. Varun is yet to make his livelihood, having just started his hotel (his mom pays the bills, his dad is busy flirting with every woman). Even when you choose to look beyond that, there is the rather garish characterisation of a Gundamma-inspired man in Prakash Raj, which is pretty stale too. Expecting sanity and logic from movies of this genre feels pretty far-fetched.
However, what Anil Ravipudi manages to do well is giving the two leading ladies their due in the tussle between men and women. It’s a relief from the subtle toxic masculinity at display from time to time. While accents are a huge problem, the leading ladies, are funny, especially Mehreen, who gets a lot of mileage out of her role. Venky (who is a pro at playing the typical middle-aged man taken for a ride) and Varun (who unlike every other hero, desperate to look cool, actually comes down a few notches to play the guy-next-door), pull through their roles effortlessly. The usual cast of Prakash Raj, Rajendra Prasad, and Prithvi are all funny in bits.
However, in a movie where the actors play their parts well, it is the sloppy and sporadic writing that lets the audience down. The dialogues and the comic-contexts are largely overused. The music doesn’t shine, perhaps an off-day for Devi Sri Prasad. Vennela Kishore’s five minutes on screen, complete with Game of Thrones references, is an absolute travesty. In what aims to be a family entertainer, the movie feels a little redundant in the latter half. It might make you laugh, if you leave your brains at home, but such an assumption is unlikely to work for the 21st century. The overall solution for a happy couple in itself is manipulatively silly. It makes you wonder whether this is the kind of thinking dominates the ideas of our ‘creative’ filmmakers. If we find these movies funny, it could be because our expectations are low, our brains are conditioned to accept this, and because it is Sankranti, the best excuse for silly family entertainers.