Un-Happy addition

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 25 Aug 2018 12:43:49


Happy Phir Bhag Jayegi

By Farina Salim Quraishi,

After a two-year break, Happy is up and running again with one more Happy for company. But despite two Happys, a title promising happiness and premise which was definitely hilarious, there is, however, precious little to cheer about Happy Phir Bhag Jayegi. A sequel to 2016 runaway comedy Happy Bhag Jayegi headlined by Diana Penty, Happy Phir Bhag Jayegi is led by Sonakshi Sinha, who plays a feisty runaway bride, albeit a jitled one. With a plot convoluted enough to make Black Hole science appear simple, Happy Phir Bhag Jayegi (HPBJ) walks under the shadow of its predecessor and rehashes all of the funny things which made Happy Bhag Jayegi endearing and engaging.

Picking up where the first part ended, Happy (Diana Penty) has finally stopped running after tying the knot with Guddu (Ali Fazal). The duo is taking off to China for a working honeymoon, after Guddu lands a concert in Shanghai. At the same time, another Happy (Sonakshi Sinha) is headed to Shanghai for a teaching position in the China University.

A classic placard mix up at the airport involving the Harpreet ‘Happy’ Kaur leads to Sonakshi ‘Happy’ Sinha taking the cab meant for Diana Penty, and she ends up being held hostage by a Hindi-speaking Chinese gangster, Chang.Chang wants to blackmail Bilal Ahmed, a friend of other Happy (Diana Penty) from Pakistan, into signing a deal favouring his company. After all efforts of Happy to make Chang realise that he has the wrong girl go in vain, Happy runs away from captivity and bumps into another Happy err Khushi aka Khushwant Singh Gill (Jassi Gill).

Chaos hits the fan when Chang goes a step further and abducts Daman Singh Bagga (Jimmy Sheirgill) off his wedding horse from Amritsar and police officer Usman Afridi (Piyush Mishra) from Lahore and brings them to Shanghai to push his cause.

“Hum pagal hai, samajhdaari humae suit nahi karti...,” says Bagga at one point in HPBJ and the words couldn’t be truer for the entire film. Refusing to take itself and its characters seriously, HPBJ stays in the goofy zone throughout its rather long run time and doesn’t even give coherence a shot. So, we have all the characters running around a lot, getting nowhere and all of them asking the question which is foremost on our mind, ‘Yeh chal kya raha hai!?’

The proceedings make scant sense and chaos reigns supreme in the saga which jumps from India to Pakistan to China and back again. The entire premise of the plot - revolving around a power project treaty between Pakistan and China involving hundred of millions - makes as much sense as the Mandarin hoardings seen in the movie. The hotchpotch screenplay makes no attempts to join the various dots or bring order to the chaotic proceedings. Also in the age of mobile and social media, the foundation of the film - mistaken identity - also holds no water.

Writer-director Mudassar Aziz is back to calling the shots in the sequel but doesn’t quite succeed in shaking of the stamp of the original. Sure, the prequel wasn’t the perfect comedy and had its share of dim-witted characters and plot howlers, but funny and heartwarming it sure was. There were giggles to be had as Diana Penty sprinted across borders and ran away with our hearts. The same does not hold true for HPBJ despite a frowning Sonakshi running hard across the length and
breadth of China.

Using and abusing the jokes and gags which made the first instalment a hit, the sequel has little new to offer in terms of novelty. At 138 minutes, the overlong film runs out of juice pretty soon and out of jokes completely post interval. The writing is also shoddy, packed with racists and xenophobic references. However, given that most of them are delivered sans any malice by the inimitable Piyush Mishra and hugely endearing Jimmy Sheirgill, the remarks though clipped do not cut!

More than the dramatics of the Happys, it is the histrionics of Bagga and Afridi which bring the house down. They share a crackling rapport and bring on the laughs with their half-hearted roasting of each other – over the nationalities – each time they meet. Reprising their roles with lot more elan second time around, Jimmy Sheirgill and Piyush Mishra make most of their prolonged screen time and are the uncrowned kings of the movie.

Sonakshi Sinha is gratingly loud and monotonous in the film. Sporting the same set of expressions - wide-eyed with a frown - for the most part of the film, Sonakshi is but a caricature of fiery Punjabi girl; using every tried and tested trick to play a headstrong Sikh girl! In sharp contrast is singer-actor Jassi Gill, who plays a suave NRI effortlessly. Bringing a endearing earnestness to his role, Jassi manages to hold his own in the crowd.

Dangal boy, Aparshakti Khurrana, however, has a forgettable role as does veteran actor Raja Bundela. Denzel Smith, as the half-Chinese and half-Pakistani Adnan leaves a mark with his elegant act. While Diana Penty and Ali Fazal only have special appearances. With too few laughs and lot many yawners, Happy Phir Bhag Jayegi is an unhappy addition to the franchise and will make you laugh only sporadically.

The Hitavada Rating: O O