Happy Bhag Jayegi (HBJ) belongs to the ‘Chameli Ki Shaadi’ to ‘Dolly ki Doli’ genre of film making – good, clean, fun entertainers; let down a bit by melodrama in the second half.
Producer Director Aanand L Rai’s last two directed movies, Raanjhana and Tanu Weds Manu Returns, had same characterestics -curious trailers, rip roaring first halves, refreshing storyline, strong leads and excellent support cast; let down a bit during the journey. That lesson not learnt stops HBJ short of being a two hour laughathon – and possibly from being a significant hit.
A star studded movie like Rustom can get away with average treatment, unoriginal story and still mint 100 crores. But when your leads are, a comeback after four years, Diana Penty, and super talented yet occasional side heroes, Abhay Deol and Jimmy Shergill, the project needed to be bang on the buck every minute to make money.
A year and a month ago, Salman Khan starrer Bajrangi Bhaijan minted 600+ crores saving a Pakistani girl child mistakenly lost in India. HBJ’s story is the reverse and forms crux of first half. An unwilling fiesty Indian girl elopes from her marriage site to be mistakenly transported to Pakistan. Amritsari local corporator Jimmy Shergill, Pakistani cop Piyush Mishra and extreme witty dialogues make this a top draw first half.
Jimmy Shergill is class act
Never mind he doesn’t get the girl in most movies (TWM series, Munnabhai series or Saheb Biwi Gangster series), Jimmy Shergill is an absolute class act on whichever role he gets underneath. Half of HBJ’s ticket price is worth seeing for him delivering even the simplest of lines. Your attention intensity increases the moment he comes on screen, laughter quotient too.
Piyush Mishra gives x factor
Other half of your ticket money is taken care by Piyush Mishra’s authentic urdu speaking character. Watch him salute Gandhiji on Indian currency or his wish than Kapil Dev, Yuvraj Singh, Yash Chopra or Gandhiji belonged to Pakistan. His scenes with Jimmy Shergill are pure treasure.
There are others major laughs too – Lahore’s ex governor son Abhay Deol introducing Diana to his fiancé, his house helpers hiding secrets or when Diana prances around their house, the head of the family is given impression that it’s the ghost of his late wife.
While Diana Penty tries hard to play the Geet (of Jab We Met) character and (her fiance) Ali Fazal is mostly captured walking in lost state, deep into the second half you feel more for the other pair – Abhay Deol & pretty Pakistani actress Momal Sheikh.
Abhay Deol, aimless in life, is forced into a marriage and director Mudassar Aziz showcases how the chemistry of a troubled runaway couple is better than of an elite rich pair, forced into marriage. There is also a hint of Abhay Deol falling for Diana Penty. These two themes, laced with songs, slow down the movie unnecessarily. And then the movie hurries into a convenient climax.
Perhaps they should have extended the climax and made it more fun – like making Diana’s father (Kanwaljeet) as one of the 100 pairs getting mass married mistakenly or Jimmy Shergill creating some havoc in Pakistan (Gadar style) and earning love worth starting a political career (or even a love) story there.
Rating: 3.5/5. 60% of the movie is a refreshing 4/5, rest is subject to your melodrama taking ability inside a movie hall. Also there are no great shots of Lahore, Amritsar, Wagah, border or marriages worth admiring on big screen. On home viewing, it would be a 4/5 experience.
Box Office Prediction: Happy Bhaag Jayegi doesn’t have the star pull to drag audiences from Rustom and MohenjoDaro. Only good word of mouth can do the trick. As I write, it’s barely done 7 crore business. At best it will just about touch its, reportedly, 18 crore budget domestically. I wish it does more and becomes a hit. India needs more of such genre than brainless light porn stuff passed as comedy.