Film Review: Happy Phir Bhag Jayegi

Sequels are not always successful, despite the makers’ best commercial motives and despite how hard the storyline – and budget – is stretched!
For those who missed out on the 2016 prequel, Harpreet ‘Happy’ Kaur (Diana Penty) was in the title role with Pakistan as the backdrop. This one shifts base to its more affluent benefactor China – Shanghai to be specific. ‘Happy’ arrives there to accompany her singer hubby for a concert. Arriving on the same flight is another Harpreet ‘Happy’ Kaur (Sonakshi Sinha) who’s apparently there as a horticulture professor but actually to locate Aman Wadhwa (Aparshakti Khurana), who left her in the lurch on her wedding night and flew to Shanghai.

Chinese baddies, led by Chang (Jason Than, whose Hindi sounds better than a few in Bollywood), mistakes the second Happy for the first and is abducted. One could see the mistaken identity element coming a long way off.

The film kicks off when Punjabi politician Daman Singh Bagga (Jimmy Sheirgill) and Pakistani DSP Usman Afridi (Piyush Mishra) are abducted and brought to Shanghai to aid the baddies.

Films in this category depend hugely on a motley cast: in this respect HPBJ doesn’t disappoint. Writer-director Mudassar Aziz, who’d written last year’s critically acclaimed ‘Jia Aur Jia’, has over-relied on tried and tested jokes in this sequel. Some of them are tolerable. But some – ‘Tu agar Gill, toh main Sheirgill’, or a character, after introducing himself as Fa, adds Q as his surname. Even a few dialogues involving the India – Pakistan – China triumvirate will do nicely, thank you, if it helps boost box-office figures.

Jassi Gill (making his Bollywood debut) as Indian embassy official Khushi, and Denzil Smith as Adnan Chow, the influential Pakistani in China, impress. Piyush Mishra’s dialogue delivery is deja vu – for the umpteenth time.

Udit Narayan’s singing in ‘Kudiye ni Tere’ is spirited, but would have been more suited in a Punjabi film. With Chinese props galore (including a rehashed version of ‘Mera naam chin chin chu), the viewer is left in no doubt as to the location of the film.

The ending promises an additional sequel. Hopefully it will be ‘Happy Bhag Gayi’.

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