Review Zapatlela 2: Om Phatt Ha Ha

It is the first Marathi film to be shot in 3D, but let’s be honest, that’s not why I was eager to catch Zapatlela 2 in 3D (way too many numbers, I say!). Two decades ago, watching an innocent looking puppet with a sinister voice climb a pipeline as a helpless Lakshya cries for help in terror in his police cell, left an impression. No other film has made me laugh and feel terrified, all at the same time.

Now, there are two ways of looking at Zapatlela 2 — one, as a sequel to a cult film that remains fun to watch even twenty years after its release or two, as a comical horror film shot in 3D (for those who may not have watched the first one, even though I sincerely doubt it). Which count does it succeed on?

What brings Tatya back, is his original quest of acquiring human form. But now that Lakshya (originally and adorably played by the late Laxmikant Berde) is dead, he needs to catch hold of his son Adi (Adinath Kothare). And the suave, anglicised Mahesh Jadhav (Mahesh Kothare), who is now the Commissioner of Police, puts two and two together and tries to rescue Adi. Zapatlela 2 stretches this one line plot to fit in a myriad of characters and sub-plots. The entire first half is spent establishing these characters and somehow tying them in with the story.

Sure, there’s a lot of nostalgia that plays, and the audience is all hoots for Inspector nee Commissioner Mahesh Jadhav, but at every point I found myself pining for the original one. Tatya and Adi have very few scenes together. Adi believes that Tatya is a computerized doll and isn’t afraid of him at all, unlike Lakshya in the original one. The audience felt Lakshya’s disbelief, amusement and terror at owning a Zapatleli Bolki Bahuli (possessed talking doll). With Adi, you just feel a faint sense of terror, which I suspect originates from the memory of the first film. One wished Kothare spent less time on the supporting cast and their silly gags, and focused on Tatya and Adi.

Even though he’s just a voice, Dilip Prabhavalkar is one the strongest performances. He uses his voice to paint the gondas (cherubic) looking doll a sinister, cruel shade. Sonalee’s dance number is absolutely enthralling, and she does well within the means of her character. Mahesh Kothare uttering ‘damn it’ a couple of times made the film paisa vasool, but honestly, I could have watched this one on TV. Adinath Kothare could do with a few more expressions in his kitty than the current ones — amused and bewildered. As for the 3D, the director gets characters to point random objects in the direction of the audience every once in a while to remind them of the third dimension.

All in all, Zapatlela 2 leaves a hell of a lot to be desired and has nothing much working for it except for the nostalgia value it brings. And dear Mahesh Kothare, if there is a Zapatlela 3, please, please spend more than fifteen minutes in developing a story damn it!

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