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Tillu Square is a paisa vasool entertainer, but the hyper-local DJ takes himself too seriously this time, writes Srivathsan Nadadhur

Story:

Tillu has finally outgrown his middle-class leanings and is one of the most happening DJs in Hyderabad, moving into a swanky residence. Fresh after his breakup with Radhika, he still hasn’t learnt his lessons, bumping into Lilly at a party. There’s romance in the air but Lilly mysteriously disappears for a month, only to claim she’s pregnant. Is Lilly bluffing? What’s in store for Tillu?

Review:

There’s great joy in watching a film based on a no-holds-barred character as liberating and unpretentious as Tillu. Beneath his flashy persona, he’s a brand of his own – funny, confused, impulsive and sarcastic without going crass. While DJ Tillu’s self-mockery in a catch 22 situation was a riot to watch, how do you place him in fresh hot mess again without being redundant?

Does Tillu Square surpass the sequel hurdle and justify its necessity? Well, almost.  Tillu is no longer an underdog, but that doesn’t mean he’s without his weaklings. Ensuring thematic similarity to DJ Tillu and paving the way for a newer conflict, he falls for a mysterious woman, lands in a soup on his birthday all over again and all hell breaks loose.

The film’s vibe is expectedly self-indulgent, with regular throwbacks to the first part – one-liners, music, characters – for familiarity and the writing is snappy enough to not complain much.  When the creators don’t shoulder the burden of matching the predecessor, Tillu Square is more enjoyable. With time, the coincidences are forcibly weaved into the narrative and the canvas gets bigger.

Tillu may be the role that drives the film, but it’s his encounter with a femme fatale – a sensuous, flawed woman – that makes the scenario juicier. Though one can’t deny the mystery around Lilly, the dialogues go overboard in suggesting why she isn’t to be trusted – the deja vu with their verbal banters doesn’t have the effect that the makers aim for. Tillu keeps rambling but isn’t always funny this time.

The songs too don’t integrate into the movie easily, while they’re still gorgeous, colourful distractions. The elastic is over-stretched post intermission, the situations aren’t explosive enough to buy Tillu’s ranting spree. There’s talk of special task forces, spies, mafia dons and a wicked murder plot using a laddoo – you wonder if you’re watching a different film.

When all the narrative tricks stop creating the desired impact, there’s a cameo to construct a few theatrical highs. The plot begins to feel like a manufactured product over time, the laughs dry up and you stop identifying with the universe. When the one-liners don’t work, it’s Tillu’s innocence and vulnerability that keep the proceedings tolerable enough.

Just when you’re drowned in mild disappointment, Tillu Square finds its mojo again. As a stand-alone film, the resolution works. Tillu laughs at himself but reminds audiences to not write him off when the chips are down. Though it goes against the underdog spirit of its world, the aftertaste is not so bad. While Tillu Square is a good entertainer, it’s not the golden standard in terms of a sequel.

Siddhu Jonnalagadda succeeds more as an actor than as a writer and that’s enough to keep Tillu Square in the hunt. Lilly is a welcome departure from the familiar, feel-good territory for Anupama Parameswaran – she isn’t only ravishingly beautiful, flaunting her fashion sense but is also at ease doing the naach gaana, acing the enjoyable slow-mo shots and handling character transitions like a boss.

The supporting cast – from Muralidhar Goud to Prince Cecil to Anish Kuruvilla, Praneeth Reddy to Murali Sharma et al – do what’s expected of them. If Ticket Eh Konakunda is foot-tapping enough for the Tillu universe, Oh My Lilly is a true sensory delight that’s bound to work better over multiple hearings. The production design and cinematography complement the over-the-top mood effectively.

Verdict:

Tillu Square, with an in-form Siddhu Jonnalagadda, serves its purpose as a laugh riot and is a funny, self-aware film that milks its colourful pivotal character to the hilt. While the writing is not as free-flowing as its predecessor, it has enough fuel in the tank to keep you entertained.

Rating: 3/5

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