In the pre-intermission segment of the Telugu film HIT: The Second Case or HIT 2, we see Krishna Dev aka KD (Adivi Sesh), a slightly laidback cop, being challenged like never before. With limited powers at his disposal, he has to think one step ahead to change the course of events. Pushed to the edge and wanting to stay on the right side of the moral compass, he does something that elicits whistles in the cinema hall. The ‘HIT Universe’ or ‘HIT-verse’, which writer and director Sailesh Kolanu is creating, has smart-thinking cop protagonists who do not rely on brawn power. Telugu cinema could do with more of these narratives.
The second film in the HIT (Homicide Intervention Team) franchise is a study in contrast with the first one. The setting moves to Visakhapatnam from Hyderabad and in place of the brooding cop Vikram Rudraraju (Vishwak Sen) grappling with post traumatic stress while trying to solve a tough case, is the cool KD who has a smart alec manner of speaking and is a chai addict. Visiting a crime scene can wait for a few minutes, first chai!
Manikandan’s camera captures the airy expanse of Vizag in wide frames and the unhurried pace of the city in the opening portions.
HIT 2 (HIT: The Second Case)
Cast: Adivi Sesh, Meenakshi Chaudhary, Komalee Prasad
Direction: Sailesh Kolanu
Music: M M Sree Lekha, Suresh Bobbili and John Stewart Eduri
HIT 2 has a tightly woven, two-hour narrative that presents a chapter in the life of police officer KD. The different aspects of his life unravel smoothly. KD’s romance with Aarya (Meenakshi Chaudhary) deals with live-in relationships matter-of-factly and the couple’s exchange of words with Aarya’s mother (played by Geetha Bhascker) has some fun moments. At work, KD uses his sarcasm to counter his superior (Rao Ramesh), and the equation he shares with his small team has room for both trust and friction.
Abhilash (Maganti Srinath), who we saw in HIT 1, makes his presence felt here as well. HIT 2 works well as a standalone film but for those who have seen the first one, Sailesh places a few Easter eggs to link the HIT Universe and spotting them amplifies the entertainment quotient.
A tonal shift happens when Vizag is jolted by a gruesome murder that brings to the fore questions of women’s safety. The story has several tropes associated with the genre — a psychopath killer on the loose, his motive that stems from a twisted understanding of women, and the plight of hapless victims and their families. KD, his trusted dog Max, and his team which includes forensic officer Varsha (Komalee Prasad) discover that the crime is murkier than they had imagined. It is appreciable that the film does not get voyeuristic as it depicts the gruesome incidents.
The story makes an emphatic statement about police encounters turning into a tool of public appeasement. The mood gets grim by the minute and KD trades his laidback nature with an urgency to make the city safer. The brick-walled spacious villa inhabited by KD, which once served as a romantic setting, turns eerie. John Stewart Eduri’s background score fills these frames with a sense of dread.
Newer characters are introduced during the investigation and it is easy to connect the threads and guess the killer and his motives. This aspect of the story could have been smarter. The film does not lose steam, but the hallmark of a crackling thriller would be to keep the audiences on the edge of their seat and spring a surprise by connecting clues that are hiding in plain sight for that wow moment.
HIT 1, whose protagonist used his Sherlock-ian knowledge and observation to crack cases, was more cerebral in its investigation. The final reveal happened through a new subplot that the audience would have had no way of guessing. HIT 2 does a better job of weaving in the sub plot of the killer’s motives but still, could have been sharper.
However, the way the climax portion taps KD’s sharp tongue, even if it isn’t politically correct, keeps us invested. The final portions also tap into the emotional side of Adivi Sesh as an actor and he is impressive. His characterisation gives him the scope to be suave, sometimes nasty and at times romantic and he digs in with delight, owning both his character and the film. Meenakshi Chaudhary has a good screen presence and her character is thankfully not a prop. In the brief part assigned to her, Komalee Prasad makes an impression.
HIT 2 ends on a high note, offering a glimpse of the star actor who will take centre stage in HIT 3 as a ruthless cop. The HIT Universe holds immense promise and it will be interesting to see what Sailesh Kolanu has in store. Earlier this year, Tamil cinema raised the bar with LCU (or Lokesh Kanagaraj Cinematic Universe) through the Kamal Haasan starrer Vikram in which Lokesh linked his earlier film Kaithi and set the stage for a larger universe. Similarly, HIT-verse can be an interesting addition to Telugu cinema and calls for smart, sharp writing.
HIT 2 is currently running in theatres