Men versus women and husband versus wives are themes which have always been the masses’ favorite. Starting with the likes of ‘Kshemanga Velli Labamgarandi’ and ‘Sandade Sandadi’ in the 1990s, this has been a genre of madcap comedy, which had faded into the oblivion. Reviving it in 2019, director-writer Anil Ravipudi brings to the Telugu audiences an out-and-out comedy movie, F2 – Fun and Frustration, starring Venkatesh, Varun Tej, Tamannah and Mehreen Pirzada. For the audience, it is mostly fun but not without some frustration.
Unlike the usual blending of comedy with action, drama or horror, F2 starts with the sole motive of leaving its audiences in splits. As evident from its trailer, there is not much of a plot. Venky (played by Venkatesh) gets married to Harika (played by Tamannah). His initial days of ‘fun’ turn into ‘frustration’ with a cribbing and complaining wife and her family. His misogyny is fittingly answered by the feminist Harika, her younger sister, Honey (played by Mehreen Pirzada) and her family – a dominating mother, a ‘rubber-stamp’ father and two bickering grandmothers. In a first-half filled with moments of hilarity, Honey gets engaged to Varun (played by Varun Tej). History repeats itself and Varun’s ‘fun’ turns into ‘frustration’, which also moves the movie from a Seenu Vaitla style Indian comedy to a Sajid Khan style ‘Houseful’ set in Europe.
I could not help but draw parallels to Seenu Vaitla – the flag-bearer of madcap comedies in the 2000s, until his recent flops. Much like Vaitla’s films and his previous hit ‘Raja- the Great’, Anil Ravipudi creates a make-belief world filled with comical characters. He is greatly benefitted by the comic timing of Venkatesh, who owns the scenes he is in. I also felt the second half was a lot like the Houseful series in Hindi – bikini clad heroines, foreign locales and heroes trying to get into Boman Irani’s household. Only difference being the Boman Irani here is Prakash Raj. What I also liked was the subtle nostalgic references to the 1990s – theme music from Venkatesh’s Raja playing in the background or the female leads breaking into a dance to the song, ‘Pelli Kala Vachesinde Bala’. It is also commendable that the ensemble cast also gets their comic timing right, including veterans like Annapurna and Y Vijaya.
As I said, it is mostly fun, but it also gets frustrating for the audiences. The songs lack a punch and come more as a hindrance to the narrative than add any value and are forgettable. Also, the story before the interval moves at a brisk pace and does work towards setting up the plot. But the second half feels overdrawn and repetitive, with the story turning into a man versus woman war. Even Vennela Kishore’s entry towards the end, does not add much to the story and could have been done away with (though he does evoke laughs as ‘Jon Snow from the North’). These anomalies make the two-and-a-half-hour-long runtime seem a little stretched. The length allows the makers to balance the misogyny and pseudo-feminism in the movie. Men and women are equally at fault or worthy of credit.
The fun moments are enhanced by pitch-perfect performances by the entire cast. It was surprising to see Mehreen Pirzada emote and don a role which required her to make fun of herself. Complimenting her well as her elder sister was Tamannah, who seemed to share a warm camaraderie with her sister and her husband, played by Venkatesh. Varun Tej, as the ‘Cobra’, gets a Telangana accent and shares a great bro-bond with Venkatesh. Despite his age, Venkatesh still shines in his comic scenes and is a delight to watch. Prakash Raj and Rajendra Prasad, among the others, support the narrative well.
It is great to see a madcap comedy after a long time, without the leads being shown as masculine ‘heroes’ with a bunch of comedian sidekicks. F2 is good fun, but with a little frustration.
My Rating – 3/5