Unlike the first instalment, Khuda Haafiz 2: Agni Pariksha is not divorced from context or reality. Writer-director Faruk Kabir’s sequel to his 2020 action drama is gripping and a massive improvement on the first. Set in Lucknow for the most part, Khuda Haafiz 2, is paisa vasool at least. It also comes without the nonsense that pulp fiction doles out.
Sameer (Vidyut Jammwal) and Nargis (Shivaleeka Oberoi) restart when a young Nivedita enters their life. However, when the child is kidnapped, Sameer goes on a difficult journey for find her and protect his family
Based loosely on the mafia and hierarchical caste structure in the Indian hinterland, KH 2, really kickstarts when the five-year-old is kidnapped by the grandson of Thakur ji (Sheeba Chaddha). Thereon, follows Vidyut’s physical show of strength in getting back his daughter.
As expected, Vidyut is electric in action sequences. Propelled by brutal force and stained with blood, the action set in a prison and an abattoir stands out for their fight sequences and martial display.
As an action hero, Vidyut and Tiger lead the industry. However, while Tiger manages to manifest some emotions on his face, Vidyut’s stoic look remains unchanged. His lapses where it comes to emoting is made up by the support cast: Danish Hussian, Dibyendu Bhattacharya and Rajesh Tailang.
Unlike the strait-jacketed first part that was hard to invest in, part two is a little more layered and with comments on the criminal-police nexus in Uttar Pradesh. From the colour of the seat cover of Thakur ji’s SUV to the caste and religious equations, Kabir has positioned plenty of hints for the discerning to chew on the politics of the region.
But much like the pulpy novels, the film does exactly what it complains against. It leaves us to ponder on the social shaming of survivors of physical assault and on action against juvenile perpetrators of rape, without munching on the consequences of taking the law into one’s hands. That’s some Agnipariksha, a test by fire! The last page of the chapter suggests that the next part will address it.