Chandoo Mondeti made a successful debut years ago with Karthikeya, hinting that the titular character Nikhil Siddhartha plays allowed for the series to carry on through his quest for truth. With Karthikeya 2, he does the same, leaving the ending open for another part in the series that takes us on an adventure along with the curious doctor.

Karthik (Nikhil Siddhartha) is now a doctor who has a successful career not just in the medical field but also otherwise as a myth-buster. We’re told that after the events at Subrahmanyapuram, he has continued to provide logical answers to supposedly supernatural questions across the country. When his mother (Tulasi) takes him along to Dwaraka, he finds himself in midst of an adventure he did not seek out. With a murderous clan and a secret society on his heels, will he and Mugdha (Anupama Parameswaran) manage to find a missing anklet that might hold the answers to a future catastrophe?

Chandoo ups the ante with Karthikeya 2 when it comes to Nikhil’s character and the extent of danger he finds himself in. While the prequel spent a lot of time exploring his agnostic character’s curious nature, apart from his love story with Valli (Swathi, who’s completely missing from this tale with no answers given), the sequel dives right into things from the get-go, almost wasting no time in setting up new characters. As Karthik finds himself in the middle of an already on-going journey, so do we, with new issues cropping up along the way.

The change in tonality and even the budget definitely suits the Karthikeya series, allowing for an immersive experience and richer storytelling that’s much more focused than the predecessor. While it’s odd that a lengthier runtime has been chosen this time around, with some scenes dragging unnecessarily, the film remains an engaging one for the most part. You’re already invested in Karthik, you know how he thinks and you know he won’t get off the metaphorical train until it reaches the desired destination. And you’re happy to be along for the ride for the most part.

Where the film doesn’t work is when it gets too hammy and in-your-face with the fact that the characters believe Lord Krishna’s story isn’t just mythology, it’s in fact ‘history’. The attempt comes across as jarring, especially when two key characters suddenly change their tune by the end. This stands out like a sore thumb because you have already believed that Lord Krishna handed over an important anklet, you didn’t need Karthik to suddenly be not-so-inquisitive anymore, nor did you need a speech from Anupam Kher hailing the god for his scientific prowess. A key character even says a particular line more than once, in case you missed it the first time. A subtler approach would’ve suited the way the first part of the series and even the second part initially resumes. It’s also sad that where the original underlined the fact that sometimes men of science use faith for their greed, almost every scientist, architect, et al remains a staunch devotee in this film.

None-the-less Nikhil picks up where he left off with Karthik, adding a touch of maturity but maintaining the almost haughty nature the character possesses. He breathes life into the character and shoulders the story well. His character arch and growth should’ve been handled a little more smoothly for the desired effect at the end. But it’s thankful the film doesn’t spend too much time on trying to force a romance between him and Anupama, who does a good job as the sidekick whose intentions aren’t always transparent. Satya and Praveen, Karthikeya’s friends are traded in for Srinivasa Reddy and Harsha Chemudu, who bring some much-needed laughs to an otherwise serious story. The latter’s ‘paan, pyaar aur paisa’ line in particular is hilarious. Rest of the cast don’t really get to do much as their characters never really evolve enough and when they do, it doesn’t feel organic.

Karthikeya 2 remains a worthy successor to Karthikeya minus the over-the-top strong-arming of Nikhil’s character by the end. If you've loved Karthik's questioning nature, you just won't buy it. Watch this one if you’re a fan of the first film, you might just have to wait a while though to meet the curious adventurist again in Karthikeya 3.