Director: Muddasar Aziz
Cast: Sonakshi Sinha, Jimmy Shergill, Diana Penty
Music Director: Sohail Sen
The makers of Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi mean it when they use ‘bhag’ (run) in the film’s title. The protagonist, Harpreet Kaur a.k.a Happy (Sonakshi Sinha), runs so much – first from her grandfather in Ludhiana to a university in Shanghai where she has grabbed a position as a professor of horticulture. Then comes a bunch of Chinese gangsters who kidnaps her thinking it’s her namesake (Diana Penty who played the protagonist in 2016’s Happy Bhag Jayegi). She has to flee again. In some time, you forget how this mix-up happened and why the gangsters want to abduct Happy in the first place. If the first installment of this unnecessary franchise was a smart comedy that really worked, this one is rife with dim-witted plot points and contrived situations.
Not that the film is entirely a let down. While the lead characters and their issues are barely memorable, the two popular supporting characters from the first installment – Bagga (Jimmy Shergill), the powerful Punjabi politician who is unlucky in love and marriage, and Afridi (Piyush Mishra), the friendly cop from Pakistan – bring the house down here too. Bagga’s colloquial Punjabi tongue (he refers to himself in third person, as Tera Bhai) becomes fodder for some nice humour. Afridi’s blitheness and bonhomie with Bagga is fun to watch, and the latter’s relentless pursuit of love, even when the villains are hot on his heels, is hilariously staged in a scene. The duo’s presence helps cover up a lot of blandness. We are familiar with Bagga, and we don’t expect him to be any less awkward. When Afridi dresses up as Batman in a poorly written scene, it doesn’t appear cringe-worthy because the character is wired to be nonsensical. They are licensed clowns whose affable silliness defines their personality.
The film, directed by Muddasar Aziz and produced by Aanand L Rai, is set in China. Unlike Happy in the first part of the franchise, Sonakshi Sinha’s Happy boards the flight from India with a secret mission. She wants to track down her former fiance who stood her up on the wedding eve and broke her grandfather’s heart. Her plan is thwarted when gangster Chow and his men whisk her away from the airport. The gangsters also kidnap Bagga and Afridi from Patiala and Lahore, respectively, for a reason that isn’t very clear. Everyone ends up on the streets of Shanghai where they decide to work their way out together.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of jokes in the film are written around the accent and appearance of the Chinese, who are portrayed using all known stereotypes – because, racism is still a largely accepted comic trope in our cinema. Characters, one after the other, crack lines on how everyone in China looks alike. In one of the scenes, Khushi (Jassi Gill), an embassy worker who befriends Happy in Shanghai, asks her how her abductors look – you know the answer! Characters slurp in instant noodles, dance in tacky colorful clothes and speak in a high-pitch voice. The makers could have set this film in a South Indian State and easily used a similar template of racist jokes and stereotyping to represent the locals.
Poor humour isn’t the only problem. The narration isn’t smooth. A little while into the film, it becomes evident that the story has little substance. It doesn’t make sense that high-profile villains in China have to kidnap a whole bunch of ordinary people from India and Pakistan to bag a business deal they have remote connection to. There is no attempt to bring the lead characters closer to the audience. There is high contrast between Sinha’s Happy and the characters from the previous installment. The former wears superficiality on its sleeve, while the latter, though goofy and absurd, was relatable.
The difference between the first and second installments of this franchise is the difference between a hearty Punjabi meal and a cheese burger that tastes artificial. All fat minus the goodness.
The Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.