Think of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code set in India, with a story based on Hindu symbols and signs. In Karthikeya 2, the main characters, Nikhil Siddhartha and Anupama Parameswaran, are in this kind of zone. They are looking for clues and trying to find out secrets while members of a secret society are getting closer to them. The thesis also makes me think of Ashwin Sanghi’s book The Krishna Key. Even though the stories aren’t exactly the same, they have some things in common, like secret societies, codes, symbols, anthropologists, archaeologists, and the fact that people with bad intentions are always a threat.
In Karthikeya, a 2014 Telugu movie directed by Chandoo Mondeti, an atheist named Dr. Karthik (played by Nikhil) used logic and science to figure out what was going on in the Subrahmanya swami temple in Subrahmanyapuram. He looks into strange murders because he doesn’t believe in superstitions and is very curious.
Karthikeya 2 shows that Dr. Karthik has moved on to a new part of his life. Even though he is still driven by his curiosity, the way things are going now make it okay for him to skip the usual scientific and logical filters. At the beginning of the movie, it says that it is a fictionalised version of real events. A character in the movie says that gods are our ancestors and that what we call mythology today is really history. The most important part of the story is a Krishna anklet that is hidden on earth and has the answers to all of the world’s problems.
The story starts when Prof. Rao, an archaeologist, finds some facts about the past in a library in Pantainos, Greece. Even though Dr. Karthik has no connection to the professor, things get complicated for him when he goes to Dwaraka with his mother (Tulasi). In a similar way to The Da Vinci Code, Karthik gets help from Mugdha (Anupama), who is the professor’s granddaughter and studied Hindu semiotics at the Banaras Hindu University.
With Karthik’s uncle Sadananda (Srinivasa Reddy), a devoted Krishna follower, the characters go on an exciting trip through Dwaraka, Beyt Dwaraka, Mathura, Radha Kund, Bundelkhand, and Himachal Pradesh. As the story moves through different settings, production designers Sahi Suresh and cinematographer-editor Karthik Ghattamaneni do a good job, and Kaala Bhairava’s background score is a nice touch.
But the story doesn’t live up to its full potential as a thrilling thriller. In many scenes, the speech gives too much detail about what the main characters do. The characters have to talk more than they need to because they can’t solve the problem quickly.
Also, there are some problems with how the thriller elements and religious themes fit together. The story often stops to preach and praise ideals, which makes the thriller less scary.
Some of the things that move the story along are a building in the shape of a peacock, an old telescope, and an anklet. The hunt for the anklet against the background of religion and culture might have also been the basis for an old-school fantasy story starring Kodi Ramakrishna. The thriller part doesn’t start until the last act, which gets people ready for Karthikeya 3.
Harsha Chemudu plays a helpful Muslim driver who helps the main characters find what they’re looking for. The performances, especially Nikhil’s restrained performance and Anupama’s good performance, fit the story. There are short clips of Praveen and Satya.
The people who made The Kashmir Files and Karthikeya 2 together know how to take advantage of the current social and political climate. If the story hadn’t been so preachy, Karthikeya 2 would have been a thrilling thriller.
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