August 24, 2018 / 9:16 AM / a month ago

Movie Review: Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi

If you haven’t watched Mudassar Aziz’s 2016 film “Happy Bhag Jayegi” (Happy Will Run Away), then the sequel will make even less sense than it already does.

Handout still from "Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi".

A middling comedy that had its moments, the first film had Happy (Diana Penty) playing a runaway bride so that she could elope with her childhood sweetheart Guddu (Ali Fazal). Her plans go awry and she somehow lands up in Pakistan at the home of a local politician (Abhay Deol). The film had some rough edges, but also some genuine humour that rescued it from time to time.

In the second film, both Happy and the humour get a serious downgrade. The location shifts from Pakistan to China, and we now have to contend with two characters named Happy (Diana Penty and Sonakshi Sinha). Both land in China on the same day, and thanks to a case of mistaken identity, a kidnapper who was supposed to abduct the first Happy picks up Sinha’s character instead.

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The reason for the kidnapping is as nonsensical as most other plot points in the film - a powerful businessman wants to conduct a deal in Pakistan, which can be facilitated by Bilal, the Pakistani politician from the first film. He wants Happy to convince Bilal, but as a character in the film points out, “Why didn’t you just kidnap the Pakistani politician in the first place?”

Of course, Aziz has no time for such questions. We are supposed to go along with whatever he throws at us, which includes casual sexism, homophobia and childish jokes around how all Chinese look the same.

As one Happy (Penty) jaunts around Shanghai, oblivious to the threat on her life, the other Happy (Sinha) escapes from her kidnappers, hunts for an ex-fiance, and drives all over China without a passport looking for her namesake. She meets Khushi (Jassie Gill), a young man who works for the Indian Embassy in Shanghai, whose first thought on meeting a stranded Indian without a passport is not to take her to the embassy, but to a Pakistani overlord and ask him to solve her problems.

Come to think of it, if only Happy had done what most Indians stranded abroad do these days – tweet to Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj – this movie would never have existed and we would all be the better for it. Instead, we are subjected to 137 minutes of inanity.

The only saving grace is Jimmy Sheirgill, who gets the best lines while reprising his role as the jilted politician who Happy deserted in the first film. In sharp contrast to Sheirgill’s sardonic comic timing is Sinha’s loud acting, which adds to the film’s irritating decibel. Happy might be the one running, but watching her is going to wear you out.

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