Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se Movie Review

Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se
Cast:
Dharmendra, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol, Kriti Kharbanda
Director: Navaniat Singh

Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se is like one of those party jokes which you anticipate will entertain you, but instead leave a bad taste in your mouth when someone actually blurts it out. The Deols are back with one more attempt at slapstick comedy with the focus firmly fixed on ‘daaru’, ‘Punjabi’ and ‘dhai kilo ka haath’ jokes. The first film of the series in 2011 worked because there was an indigenous charm to it. The whole Canada-Punjab-Benares set up offered enough to the audience. The Deols cast their charm and, overall, it managed to make us laugh. There was a spontaneity to it. A lot has changed in seven years. The Deols have done a couple of more films together to dilute the interest of watching them perform together, and their mojo is also lost. Though Sunny and Bobby Deol gave us a glimpse of how crazy it could be with them together in 2017’s Poster Boys, this time they seem trapped more in the burden of making a silly yet comic film, than actually making it.

It had to be a place in Punjab, so Amritsar fetches the director Navaniat Singh’s attention. Puran Singh (Sunny Deol) is a local favourite, beloved for his knowledge of Ayurveda, while his brother Kaala (Bobby Deol) is hell bent on maligning the family’s reputation. Of course, this is meant in a funny way, at least this is what the director intended in the beginning.

They come to loggerheads with a big pharmaceutical giant Marfatia (Mohan Kapoor) who wants to buy a secret medicinal formula from Puran. After a couple of scuffles in which nearly a 100 people lose to Sunny Deol’s screaming, the case reaches the court where advocate Parmar (Dharmendra) pleads on behalf of the brothers.

There is some promise in the beginning. Dharmendra talks to invisible women, Sunny blasts pillars with his punches and Bobby grooves to the surprisingly melodious tune of Nazarbattu (sung by Sachet Tandon). In short, the ‘90s nostalgia is back, but it becomes troublesome when you keep soaking in reflected glory of the past for the next 40 minutes. Where is the new film, you wonder!

A predictable storyline is least of the problems with Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se. The actors are trapped in their own images while the viewers have probably moved on. The jokes start to fall flat and scenes get stretched for no apparent reason. The proceedings become so lackluster that by the time the climax arrives, you have had at least five re-runs of it in your head. You’ll also miss the freshness and impeccable performances of secondary characters; the way they added value to the proceedings in the first film was praise-worthy.

The second film also suffered due to an absurd central theme and an omnipresent monkey. You wouldn’t believe how out of place it was till you watch the second film of the franchise. Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se isn’t as bizarre as Yamla Pagla Deewana 2, but it’s nowhere close to the fun quotient of Yamla Pagla Deewana either.

You’ll need a couple of popcorn boxes to munch on, but more than that, you’ll need Himalayan patience to sit through this 147-minute of convoluted mess.

Rating: 1/5

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Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi Review

Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi
Cast:
Sonakshi Sinha, Diana Penty, Jimmy Shergill, Jassi Gill
Director: Mudassar Aziz

The charming innocence of the key characters in Happy Bhag Jayegi (2016) was the prime reason behind its success. The film created a parallel world where even the most cynical characters appeared funny. They didn’t know what was happening, yet they whole-heartedly participated in it. The sequel, Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi, takes a cue from there, but actors seem much more confident as if they know what the future has in store for them. The bigger canvas and addition of new actors add value to the film, but overall, the fun quotient has been diluted. That doesn’t mean Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi wouldn’t be able to entertain you at all. It has its own moments, thanks to actors like Jimmy Shergill and Piyush Mishra.

It a tale of two Happys (Sonakshi Sinha and Diana Penty) who land in Shanghai (China) at the same time. The original Happy (Penty) has a history with a prominent Pakistani politician, played by Abhay Deol in the first film. So, a Chinese businessman Adnan Chow (Denzil Smith) wants to kidnap her to pressurise the Pakistan government for money. He abducts the other Happy (Sinha) instead. After this, half of Amritsar lands in Shanghai and creates mayhem on its roads.

The director, Mudassar Aziz, tries to take the film forward through personality traits, and that works in his favour. Khushi’s (Jassi Gill) lack of a social life and occasional soliloquies will give you a reason to laugh. Then there is Jimmy Shergill’s Daman Singh Bagga, who is still desperate to get married. Repetitive, but Shergill has aced such a character arc by now, so you laugh. In fact, it’s his chemistry with Piyush Mishra’s Lahore cop Usman Afridi that you’ll cherish the most. The director has stretched their scenes though, but they manage to sail through.

The first film relied on situations, but the sequel is more about characters. There the spirit gets dampened a bit as the new Happy doesn’t get much to do. Sinha’s role is more like the binding thread than the core of the story itself.

Denzil Smith’s Urdu-speaking Chinese mobster evokes smile in the beginning, but recurrence takes away the sheen. He goes by the mood of the film though.

Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi is a feel good film which you’re not likely to remember much about after a while. That’s its major drawback. You’ll have a good time, but there isn’t much to make you come back to it. Nevertheless, it’s 137-minute of sheer fun. Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi will lift your mood for sure, but that will also depend on the fact that whether you would like to forgive the makers for such an average recreation of the iconic Howrah Bridge song Mera naam Chin Chin Chu.

Rating: 3/5

Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/@nawabjha

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Akshay Kumar’s Gold Review

Akshay Kumar’s Gold Review

Gold
Cast:
Akshay Kumar, Mouni Roy, Amit Sadh
Director: Reema Kagti

In the Olympics of 1948, the Indian hockey team isn’t playing just to win the tournament, but to beat the British legacy of slavery of over 200 years. There can’t be a better venue than London. With tempers running high and biceps bulging at the slightest provocation, it’s history in making. India is up against Britain, the host, in their den. The crowd is hostile, but admires a good game. It’s similar to the hockey finale of 1936 when British India destroyed the host Germany in Berlin. It’s also a metaphor of how it takes years and generations to see dreams come true, and how the history repeats itself. Such connecting dots make Gold a cut above the rest and an absolutely delightful watch. Tapan Das (Akshay Kumar) is a paradoxical character. Throughout called ‘paagal Bengali’, he is what Jerry Maguire would have been in his circumstances. Or, maybe better, thanks to his understanding of a flawed team manager who drinks like a fish and retaliates like a hyena. He is tactical, non-confrontational and the go to man for players who have not yet risen above their social conditions back home.

There is an excellent dribbler in Raghubir Pratap Singh (Amit Sadh), the scion of a princely state in erstwhile United Province, who finds the untamed energy of Himmat Singh (Sunny Kaushal) threatening. There are others who are yet to find a purpose in the stick, but they’re all glued together with Tapan’s passion to see the flag of independent India hoisted above others.

This is an ideal, somewhat predictable, set-up, and it’s totally up to the director Reema Kagti (Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd, Talaash) to turn it into either an intense drama like Chak De! India or an overtly patriotic saga invoking tears. She chooses the middle ground and Gold transforms into a smart film on-screen. It adjusts Akshay Kumar brand of comedy and emotion-driven songs with ease into a script that’s mostly about a simple man’s desire to see the world in a new light.

In fact, truth be told, the first 30-minutes of Gold’s screenplay is one of the finest this year. You meet the key characters, get introduced to their struggles and understand the conflict that’s getting bigger. And guess what? All this happens without being in your face that’s so typical of Bollywood sports dramas.

There’re, at least, three parallel tracks a la Chak De! India which culminates on hockey and how the game can be the best ambassador for a people. While two players jostle for the center forward’s space, others feel comfortable with players from their own vicinity. Reema Kagti has tactfully weaved in small snippets from players’ lives to talk about larger issues. It’s so good to see such a mainstream patriotic film not resorting to Pakistan bashing. On the other hand, Vineet Kumar Singh (Imtiaz, ex-British India captain who also spearheads the Pakistani team after independence) ensures we treat them as passionate players and former allies in our collective freedom struggle.

This is an extension of what Akshay has been doing in films like Toilet Ek Prem Katha and Padman, but he has championed the art of mixing with other characters and being comfortable in his own skin. This is so vital for a story like Gold where a superstar’s presence could take the focus away from the theme. He is there but not on the ground. His powers are limited and the game doesn’t even revolve around him, but that sense of helplessness makes his victory even bigger.

In most of the scenes, somebody else and not Akshay takes charge of the situation. Sometimes it’s Mouni Roy’s Monobina and sometimes it’s Kunal Kapoor’s star hockey player Samraat. A couple of songs and easy to anticipate plot points make Gold slightly less innovative in the second half, but I am ready to overlook them as it catches us by the neck and make us notice the fluidity of the proceedings. Doing so for 153-minutes is definitely not an easy job.

Gold can’t boast of a great CGI though. Actors try to make up for a little slack in pace, but its capacity to moist your eyes at will is Gold’s real strength. Akshay is in top form and this is your must watch Independence Day film.?

Rating: 4/5

Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/@nawabjha

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Kolamavu Kokila Review: Drug-peddling Nayanthara Shines in this Black Comedy

Kolamavu Kokila
Cast: Nayanthara, Yogi Babu
Director: Nelson Dilipkumar

After playing an upright Indian Administrative Officer on the right side of law in 2017 film Aramm, Nayanthara flips on to the other side in her latest dark adventure, Nelson Dilipkumar’s Kolamavu Kokila. As innocent sounding as the title itself may be – kolamavu in Tamil means rice-powder used to draw alpana/rangoli – Nayanthara’s Kokila appears naive and even a wee bit muddleheaded till her mother’s (Saranya Ponvannan) potentially fatal lung cancer drives the girl to plunge into a drug cartel. It is not that she connives and cons right from the start, but as luck would have it, she finds herself pushed into the seedy business after she had knocked all doors for money to treat her mother. A chance encounter with a drug operative, who uses the guileless, almost schoolgirl-like Kokila to get a packet of cocaine from the toilet of a women’s hostel. And she walks through the police cordon in a breeze. Yes, the film has far too many convenient junctures – call them sheer coincidence – for the script to get top billing. But if one were to overlook these, and Yogi Babu’s (who sets up shop right outside’s Kokila’s) desperate affection for Kokila, which turns sillier by the minute, Dilipkumar’s work stays on course without distraction.

A black comedy into which not just Kokila, but also her ATM guard father, her sick mother and college-going sister get sucked into, the movie manages to lighten the journey of a motley crowd, which includes good cops, bad cops, drugs dons in Chennai and their menacing boss in Mumbai.

Somewhat poorly paced and lacking any penetrating dark humour, Kolamavu Kokila manages to engage without throwing up too much blood and gore. Nayanthara carries the plot with conviction. She could have added a few variations to her docile demeanour though.

Rating: 3/5

(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator, movie critic)

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