If the franchise is back and the leads have to leave, then you should take it easy. For reference: more than two decades of K series on Indian television.
Bunty Aur Babli 2, the sequel/restart directed by Varun V Sharma, breaks this simple rule.
He makes a collage of memories from the first film in the opening credits. How nostalgic, the film says, a B&B in front of the Taj Mahal. A B&B disguised as a monk, a B&B on a bicycle. They are back, you see… Rani Mukherjee and Saif Ali Khan. Frankly, Saif is fine. If you don’t consciously think about Abhishek Bachchan, he just blends in. The problem is, it’s kind of a sequel that still reminds me of the past. He has repeatedly made direct and indirect references to the 2005 comedy Shaad Ali.
Kajra Re, the hit song from the film, is played in one scene. Rani’s spectacular costumes that were currently trending were back. It’s like reading a glossy, hopeless app. “Once I did that, once I did that…”
Despite being invited to serve the country in the first film, con artists Rakesh (Saif) and Vimi (Rani) remain in Fursatganj. They lead quiet and ordinary lives: work is mentioned but never finished. Oh, and the kid’s grown too (annoyingly, some would say). One night on the news, Rakesh sees signs of his old showing up. Someone stole your badge.
The new “Bs” are, so to speak, Kunal (Sidhant Chaturvedi) and Sonia (Sharvari Wag). They are both engineers, which explains less than it should. Unfortunately, this film saves us from their background (at least in part).
We meet them as trained criminals – young, flexible, digital, and quick to stand up. Their first scam was to sell a bunch of uncles on a fictional holiday. They gradually strengthened it and went national under the label “Bunty Babli”.
The rest of the film is self-written. The older bad guys want the younger ones who are aware of being caught.
Young people are not that easy. A policeman, played by Pankaj Tripathi, looks so bored that he arrives at the film asleep. Pankaj, I must say, is not at his best. One of our best and funniest turned into something like furniture in these movies. If Cristiano Ronaldo just wanted to play friendly, he would probably be Monkey Pancage. I love the actor more than anyone, but I want him to keep going too. He takes a “tinde” from Vimi’s kitchen and smiles broadly, a look Pankaj repeated in about 700 of his previous films.
Rani and Saif do their best work together. Unfortunately, a lot of the spark is lost in the new film. Sharvari and Siddhant look deep into the small town scene (the latter still has his own Gully Boy taste). When the film finally finishes – in Goa, followed by Abu Dhabi – their characters come to their senses. Rani also finds her strange qi driving a crazy ATV across the beach.
Predatory movies, even comedies, need an element of danger. There’s abuse here too, but not too much fun. When Rakesh notices the skinny Kunal in the crowd, he stalks the middle-aged people. It slipped and fell, and we saw the kids measuring it with water balloons.
That playful tone may be the reason the film needs its characters to justify itself:
Every half hour or so. Young people are represented as an awake group. Your deception, even for criminal purposes, always leads to something good. “We only took 20 percent of the money,” says Kunal, who shines like Bill Gates.
I mentioned small towns. The original film gave the primary roles a warm dignity while placing their aspirations amid their weaknesses. Bunty Aur Babli is one of her best efforts.
The sequel proudly uttering the word “jugaad” ends up breaking that ethos. He drew the wrong line between adversity and evil.