Khuda Haafiz: Chapter 2 – Agni Pariksha (2022) Review!!

Synopsis – Sameer and Nargis after overcoming all odds, find a ray of sunshine when little Nandini enters their lives and their family is complete; But their happiness is short-lived. In a bizarre twist of fate, Nandini goes missing.

My Take – Released two years back in the midst of pandemic on Disney+ Hotstar, the Faruk Kabir written and directed thriller, Khuda Haafiz, was an extremely mundane fare that found general appreciation for being a departure from the archetypal Vidyut Jammwal actioner, which saw him playing a common man hence holding back all his aces as a martial artist and opt for realistic fight form adhering to his situations as searched for his missing wife in a foreign country, something which, ironically, worked more in favor than his usual affairs.

Continuing the story in a theatrical release, the sequel surprisingly is a massive improvement on the first chapter as returning writer-director Faruk Kabir delivers a straightforward yet gripping action drama that sees a traumatized Vidyut Jammwal go full ruthless and unrestrained. In comparison, the execution is way better, the film is tightly edited, and the action is, considering the crime involved, is extremely wrathful and brutal.

Unlike its moderate predecessor that was hard to invest in, the follow up is way more layered, and makes us feel the aftermath of the crime, all the while as it briefly comments on the criminal-political-police nexus in India.

Sure, the set up and the repercussions are not new, in fact the film is almost similar to the 2020 film in structure, but the story, though stretched, is high on emotion and the heavy-duty action keeps you constantly engaged.

Taking place right after the events of the first film, the story once again follows Sameer Chaudhary (Vidyut Jammwal), a middle class software engineer, who went to hell and back to rescue his wife Nargis (Shivaleeka Oberoi) from an overseas human trafficking ring. But since their return, the couple has been finding it tough to navigate their relationship, since Nargis has been struggling with deep PTSD due the mental and physical torture she underwent.

A glimmer hope comes into their lives when Sameer brings in a friend’s five-year-old orphaned niece, Nandini (Riddhi Sharma), to live with them for a week. And with a bond forming between the two damaged souls, Sameer and Nargis end up officially adopting her.

However, their happiness is short-lived as Nandini ends up getting kidnapped by Basheshwar “Bachchu” Thakur (Bodhisattva Sharma), the teenage grandson of an influential politician, Sheela Thakur ji (Sheeba Chaddha). And when Bachchu and his friends immediately going into the wind, with the help of local gangster Rashid Qasai (Dibyendu Bhattacharya), after they commit the heinous crime, a traumatized Sameer ends up unleashing his knack for decimating the opposition.

Yes, the plot is formulaic but the drama keep you going. Unsurprisingly, though, the action is outstanding. Propelled by a brutal force and stained with blood, the action set pieces in a prison and an abattoir stands out for their sheer rawness and visceral appeal. The aesthetic flair is apparent in the way the usual elements like downpour during the fight sequence and verdant farmlands during the search for the girls have been shot. It’s easily one of the most memorable action scenes in recent time.

But director Faruk Kabir isn’t content to create a lightweight action thriller around the fighting skills of his leading man and attempts to provide social commentary on the state of India. Much of it is spouted by a reporter named Ravi Kumar (Rajesh Tailang), who in a way justifies the violence Sameer inflicts as the acts of the common man frustrated by the system’s weaknesses.

Supporting eye for an eye approach. Which is seen in a scene where Sameer in a feat of rage kills one of the teenagers who raped and killed his 5-year old daughter. The film is a timely ireful warning of what the criminally powerful can do if they are allowed to get away with such crimes.

Yes, the film is guilty of shortcomings, like climax in Cairo feels forced, thankfully though, the pace never slackens and the end justifies the action.

Performance wise, Vidyut Jammwal is served the perfect opportunity to show that he is a skilled actor as well. Playing a layman he gets beaten up, battered but gets up with love and revenge fueling him. His transformation into a ruthless man is believable. Shivaleeka Oberoi too gives an earnest performance as a woman trying to get out of trauma, who is hit by another trauma while recovering.

Sheeba Chaddha is terrifying. As a woman of few words, Chaddha brings a menacing aura that she carries with ease. In supporting roles, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Rajesh Tailang, and Danish Hussian are effective. On the whole, ‘Khuda Haafiz: Chapter 2 – Agni Pariksha’ is a gripping action drama that works well as an elevated straightforward revenge flick.

Directed –

Starring – Vidyut Jammwal, Shivaleeka Oberoi, Danish Husain

Rated – R

Run Time – 144 minutes

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