May 27, 2023
by Carla Hay
Directed by Vijay Antony
Tamil with subtitles
Culture Representation: Taking place in Chennai, India, the sci-fi action film “Pichaikkaran 2” (a stand-alone sequel to 2016’s “Pichaikkaran”) features an all-South-Asian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.
Culture Clash: An evil and greedy businessman, who wants to get rid his rival brother, abducts a street beggar so that the brains of the beggar and the businessman’s brother can be switched through a secret surgery.
Culture Audience: “Pichaikkaran 2” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching an overly long and terribly made movie about greed and swapping human brains through transplants.
“Pichaikkaran 2” is a sorry excuse for a sequel. This long-winded sci-fi action flick has a terribly conceived plot about brain swapping. This time-wasting junk ironically lacks any brain-power intelligence. The only real brain damage is to the brain cells of viewers who watch this idiotic film.
Written and directed by Vijay Antony, “Pichaikkaran 2” is a sequel to the 2016 film “Pichaikkaran,” which is superior to this sequel in every single way. (The word “pichaikkaran” means “beggar” in Tamil.) The main thing that these vastly different movies have in common is that Vijay Antony has the title starring role in both movies. “Pichaikkaran” was written and directed by Sasi. Antony makes his feature-film directorial debut with “Pichaikkaran 2,” which Antony co-wrote with K Palani and Paul Antony.
In “Pichaikkaran 2” (which takes place in Chennai, India), a wealthy businessman named Vijay Gurumoorthy (played by Antony) is the heir leader to his family’s business, after the family patriarch (Vijay’s father) has died. Vijay’s evil and greedy younger brother Aravind (played by Dev Gill) convinces a reluctant Vijay to keep their father’s death a secret for about a month. Aravind tells Vijay that they need this secrecy so that the company’s stocks don’t go down and so that they have time to prepare for the transition to new leadership.
In reality, Aravind want this month to prepare for a dastardly plan to get rid of Vijay and take over the business. Aravind has heard about a revolutionary surgery that can do human brain transplants. This surgery is an outlawed medical procedure, since the worldwide medical community has issues with the ethics of human brain transplants.
A rogue surgeon named Dr. Shiva (played by Hareesh Peradi) is an advocate of this surgery and has given media interviews saying that this surgery should be legal because it could prolong people’s lives. Aravind tells M. Krishna Iyer (played by Y. G. Mahendran), the loyal secretary of this deceased business mogul, to find Dr. Shiva, who is brought to a secret meeting with Aravind and Krishna. Dr. Shiva is eager to perform this surgery, for the right price.
After Aravind is convinced that this surgery would really work, he hires Dr. Shiva and tells him to wait and see who will be the two people who will have their brains swapped. Aravind then has Vijay kidnapped. Aravind viciously beats and kicks Vijay into unconsciousness. And it just so happens there’s an impoverished beggar named Sathya (also played by Antony), who is a look-alike to Vijay. Sathya, who grew up as a poor orphan, is also kidnapped and made unconscious through violent ways.
Two look-alike people and a brain-swapping plot? You know what this means, of course. Vijay and Sathya end up in a secret operating room, where their brains are swapped. When they both wake up, the body of Vijay has the mind of Sathya, while the body of Sathya has the mind of Vijay. Sathya and Vija still have long-term memories, so they can vividly remember their past.
Avarind’s plan is to kill the body of Sathya (which has Vijay’s mind) and keep the body of Vijay (which has Sathya’s mind), to use as a decoy, so that people will think Vijay is still alive. Avarind thinks that this “fake Vijay” (who has Sathya’s mind) will be such an incompetent leader, the “fake Vijay” will be ousted from the company, giving Avarind a clear path to take over the family business. The problem with this conspiracy is that Sathya, whose mind is in now in the body of Vijay, remembers his real past and isn’t afraid to say so. Even though some people think Sathya is mentally ill for saying he’s trapped in the wrong body, Sathya (in Vijay’s body) is determined to find out why he’s now being told that he is Vijay and has to live Vjay’s life.
After this secret brain-transplant surgery takes place, Vijay’s loyal and loving girlfriend Hema (played by Kavya Thapar), who also works for the company, begins to grow suspicious about the way the “fake Vijay” has been acting, because this “fake Vijay” doesn’t remember a lot of things about their relationship. Will she discover the secret? Will Avarind get away with his moronic scheme? It should come as no surprise that Sathya (in Vijay’s body) is not as gullible and passive as Avarind thinks Sathya should be.
This bloated 148-minute film stretches out the very thin plot with a lot of phony-looking fight scenes and cringeworthy musical numbers. Everything about “Pichaikkaran 2” reeks of mindless filmmaking with a big budget. How stupid is the dialogue in “Pichaikkaran 2”? Aravind repeats the redundant phrase that Vijay is worth “millions and billions.” The acting in this movie is mostly horrendous. The film editing (by Antony) is choppy and amateurish. Antony also wrote the bombastic musical score for “Pichaikkaran 2,” which blasts the music in obnoxious volume levels.
Although “Pichaikkaran 2” tries to make Vijay look like he’s a desirable and admirable person, he’s actually quite terrible. There’s a scene early in the movie (before the brain-transplant surgery takes place), when Hema questions Vijay’s decision to keep his father’s death a secret for a month. In response, Vijay hits Hema hard in the face. It’s all just an exploitative set-up to make the mind of altruistic and compassionate Sathya the better choice for the body of Vijay. Sathya also has a side to him that is a ruthless vigilante, which is the movie’s excuse to have a lot of violent scenes of Sathya as an “action hero.”
Along the way, “Pichaikkaran 2” has a lot of preaching about Anti-Bikili, a social movement that’s against greed, corruption and arrogance about money. There’s also a treacly subplot about Sathya looking for his long-lost sister Rani, who was separated from him in their childhood, when they were sent to different foster homes. “Pichaikkaran 2” is just a horribly made vanity project from Antony. The only real “begging” for “Pichaikkaran 2” is when disastisfied viewers see how bad this trash-dump movie is and beg for it to be over.
Vijay Antony Film Corporation released “Pichaikkaran 2” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on May 19, 2023.