Raju Gari Gadhi 2, the Telugu remake of the 2015 Malayalam film Pretham is quite faithful to the original - from the crass jokes and effective spooks to the twisted morality. The plot remains the same but it has received an upgrade when it comes to the VFX.
There is no raju though this film, too, has a haunted room. Part 2 is not linked to the first in the series apart from a few references thrown here and there ("Give him a round of applause!" for instance).
Ashwin (Ashwin Babu), who was one of the central characters of Part 1, is back once again, this time as a guy who has bought a resort with his two friends (Vennela Kisore and Praveen). But strange occurrences make them wonder if the resort is haunted. Is Suhanisa (Seerat Kapoor), the glamorous guest the men lust after, the ghost, or is there something more going on?
Well, obviously there's more going on since the cast has Nagarjuna and Samantha. Nagarjuna reprises Jayasurya's role from Pretham as a mentalist - though he goes all Hindu on it. Thankfully, his introduction scene is minus the rape joke that Jayasurya spouts in the original.
As Rudra, Nagarjuna carries the film on his shoulders and works up the intrigue in the plot.
Samantha comes into the film much later but is effective at what she does, within the limited scope for her character. One must congratulate director Ohmkar for not giving into the temptation to throw in a dance for her only because she's an A list heroine.
Most ghosts are wronged women and there are only 2-3 ideas for "wronged women" that our filmmakers have. Nevertheless, Raju Gari Gadhi 2 has a surprise wrongdoer that the audience may not guess. Some scenes will make you jump and there are spook elements in the script which go beyond the usual mirror tricks. Thaman's grim background score announcing the arrival of the ghost is quite spine-tingling.
Where the film falters, like the original, is in its confused understanding of what constitutes right and wrong when it comes to sex. Sample this: The ghost gets offended when the men watch a Sunny Leone porn video because they are having "wrong" thoughts about a woman. Huh? Did Sunny Leone give her consent to make a porn video so her audience could enter transcendental meditation?
We're also told the word ammayi (woman) has amma in it and we must therefore respect women. I suppose the director thinks Seerat Kapoor is a martian since the camera certainly does not offer her this veneration.
In another scene, the three friends, two of whom behave abominably with Suhanisa (Praveen's character even spikes her drink without her knowledge with an aphrodisiac), are given a character certificate by a priest - they are as all boys are but they are good people. Boys will be boys, even if they're haunted by a girl ghost, mind you.
As a horror comedy, the film has its moments in the sun. Some lines had the audience rolling in their seats ("Loading, loading..." especially) but towards the end, the film loses the plot by trying to turn on the waterworks. The lengthy lecture that Rudra delivers towards the end, ends up turning the film into a moral science lesson.
As it stands, Raju Gari Gadhi 2 is way better than the first film but that's not saying much. It is adequately entertaining if you're willing to switch off your mind and give in to its absurd logic.