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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Film review: Happy Phir Bhaag Jayegi

Be patient in the first half of this sitcom and be rewarded for some good laughs in the end
 

Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi stars Sonakshi Sinha in the lead role. Eros International
Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi stars Sonakshi Sinha in the lead role. Eros International

If you have not watched the first Happy outing by writer-director Mudassar Aziz, the first half of the sequel runs the risk of losing its audience. But as much as the 2016 Happy Bhaag Jayegi was a slow burning hit, good things come to those who can stick through the lazy plot and initial flat one-liners in Happy Phir Bhaag Jayegi.

The second half comes alive in this situational comedy through a solid new female lead backed by a great cast effort that leaves you entertained and smiling as you step out of the theatre.

There is not much of a plot in this mistaken-identity tale that clings on to a comedy-of-errors template. Instead the storyline is a mere excuse for the ensemble cast to poke fun at language barriers around the thorny India-Pakistan-China relationship. That is achieved by lazily swapping identities and relying on cliches.

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The main premise is a group of Hindi-speaking Chinese gangsters who set out to kidnap Happy (Diana Penty) and her would-be husband Guddu (Ali Fazal) who are on the run. In a bit of a continuity fudge, Happy's character morphs into actress Sonakshi Sinha.

She escapes the gang and finds a saviour in an introverted Indian embassy worker Khushwant Gill (Jassi Gill). But Happy isn't the only one on the baddies list. They pick up Happy's other suitor, the Amritsar thug-politician Daman Bagga (Jimmy Sheirgill) from his wedding and Pakistani cop Usman Afridi (Piyush Mishra) on the eve of his retirement in Lahore – all because they were once friends of the Pakistani ex-governor’s son (Abhay Deol) from the first film. Go figure.

Everyone’s paths cross, and Khushi and Bagga vie for Happy’s love while we are given a tour of China, which is actually Thailand. A glut of crude Chinese character names are introduced mostly to add to the spate of terrible one-liners.

Even the villain is named Adnan Chow (Denzil Smith) but it is not clear why. Nor is it clear why he wants to get his hands on Happy, except some loose dialogue about Pakistan-China business turnover worth millions while jumping on one feet to practice a step of Bhangra, the Indian folklore dance of Punjab.

If Aziz, the director, would have spent that much time more on a crisper plot, the comedy may have come across much better.

All the flaws should not take away from the fact that Sinha effortlessly steps into Penty's shoes as Happy. She carries the swag of an outspoken Punjabi girl and holds the mantle of lead actress well. Once again, she has proved she can be the main protagonist like in Lootera and Ittefaq.

The parts involving Sheirgill and Mishra’s self-depreciatory puns on the India-Pakistan rivalry are simplistic, yet hilarious. Like the movie, Sheirgill grows into his character as the macho Punjabi who never gets the girl. He makes his failures and expressions effortless.

Debutant Jassi Gill and Khurrana play their parts perfectly. In the end, the efforts of the ensemble cast bring this one home and the one-liners finally fall into place making this a one-time enjoyable fare.

Credits

Produced by: Colour Yellow Productions and Eros Now
Director: Mudassar Aziz
Cast: Sonakshi Sinha, Jimmy Sheirgill, Jassi Gill, Piyush Mishra, Diana Penty, Aparshakti Khurrana
Star rating: 2.5/5

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