Save for a few laughs, I didn’t care much for Happy Bhag Jayegi‘s clamorous comedy of confusion.
To jog your memory, an Indian runaway bride accidentally lands at a Pakistani politician’s home causing much pandemonium amongst her many pursuers. Its sequel, once again directed by Muddasar Aziz for producer Aanand L Rai evokes identical sentiments.
Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi retains its love for incessant chaos and besotted suitors. Only this time it’s a case of mistaken identities and ethnic tangles stirring up a hornet’s nest.
In its hodgepodge scheme of dim-witted mystery and twists, half a dozen characters from Patiala, Amritsar and Lahore are tossed into the heart of Shanghai to no avail. Without novelty or sense, the gag’s already on thin ground and relies entirely on the loony camaraderie of its ensemble cast to work, which it does but only sporadically.
The silliness ensues almost immediately once newly married Happy and Guddu arrive in China to perform at a concert, Bagga (Jimmy Shergill) and Afridi (Piyush Mishra) are abducted from their respective wedding and retirement ceremony by a bunch of Chinese mobsters and a brand new Happy (Sonakshi Sinha) is held hostage by the same goofy bunch in place of her namesake.
Keeping with the film’s title, she quickly escapes and bumps into a embassy worker (Jassi Gill) at a gathering where he’s karaoke singing to Sunny Deol’s Don’t Say No. The Ghayal actor’s songs are a running joke ever since Jimmy Shergill broke into a Yaara O Yaara jig in the first one. He obliges again with an encore.
There’s also the Urdu-spewing Adnan Chao (Denzel Smith), a Chinese Pakistani businessman, referred to as Kancha Cheena by Afridi, who spends more time showing a bunch of locals the difference between biryani and sticky rice and Feroz Khan’s Qurbanidance moves.
Now there’s no good reason why any of them should hang out so director Aziz throws in a familiar flashback about the events leading to Happy’s hunt for her absconding groom (Aparshakti Khurrana) until they all pledge to locate him in, where else but, Shanghai.
The contrivances this sequel imagines to extend our China Darshan are to be seen to believe. Really though, the script is an endless pile of bunkum where every single scene is just an excuse to make a joke.
There are times when a character is standing just a few feet away and can tell the other person what they want to directly. But no, they’ll still engage in long-winded tactics like dumb charades to convey that message and the recipient still wont get it.
This may be funny to a four-year-old but not to an audience expected to cackle at innuendoes disguised as names (Fa Qui) and phrases (Makaju).
Characters slipping over dropped noodles, dancing in tacky superhero costumes or simply drugged and behaving out of character as casually as demonstrating incessant racism (all Chinese look the same) and homophobia (you’re a librarian, Labrador? Oh lesbian) that’s casually played for laughs — there’s nothing amusing about such slapstick, disrespectful humour.
Taking pot shots, being politically incorrect is all right as long as one knows where to draw the line. It’s not like Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi doesn’t know what that means. Some of its funniest moments are full of it.
When Shergill steps out of his kidnapper’s vehicle and realises he’s in a foreign country, he quips, ‘Yeh Pakistan nahi hai woh toh taraqi se hi pata chal raha hai‘ Or that funny threat about someone’s Ghaziabad’s origins. But the writing lacks consistency as acutely as it forgoes sense.
What’s nice is that the new Happy isn’t a picture of wannabe whimsy. Sonakshi Sinha exudes spunk and sees the airheaded premise for what it is. Its true source of cheer lies in Jimmy Shergill and Piyush Mishra’s bonhomie and banter.
In comparison, their co-star, the Punjabi singer and actor Jassi Gill starts off a bit bumpily but grows on you.
Of the rest, Denzil Smith’s sophisticated culture mishmash seems out of place around such chaos whereas Aparshakti Khurrana is pure wasted in a role that is thrust in bizarre places and fizzles out just as easily. Meanwhile Ali Fazal and Diana Penty appear to be on a paid vacation in whatever little they have to do.
The joke has gone on for far too long already. How about a happy ending?