June 17, 2011
Vinay Pathak, Kay Kay Menon, Minissha Lamba, Suresh Menon, Amole Gupte, Aditi Govitrikar
I enjoyed Bheja Fry but I wasn’t in love with it. Those words perfectly encapsulate my feelings towards Bheja Fry 2 too.
Vinay Pathak once again plays Bharat Bhushan, the slowhead from Bheja Fry whose profession as an income-tax official is in sharp contrast to his passion for old Hindi film songs. In Part 2, Bhushan wins a national reality tele-show which earns him Rs 25 lakh in cash and a berth on a luxury cruise. Also on the ship is the TV show’s executive producer Ranjini (Minissha Lamba), and businessman Ajit Talwar (Kay Kay Menon) who has been tipped off that an IT raid is headed his way and that a tax official is on board the ship. Talwar erroneously assumes that Bhushan is the taxman who has been sent to track him. The conspiracies and misunderstandings that follow are what makes up Bheja Fry 2.
It’s a funny film about a silly man; funny in a way that doesn’t insult the viewer’s intelligence or ask us to send our brains on vacation while we watch it. As in Bheja Fry (a remake of the French film Le Diner De Cons), Bhushan continues to be a tuneless music buff who insists on singing at the drop of a hat, not quite realising what an ass he’s making of himself. He also remains a well-meaning, pesky bumblehead whose good intentions are often at cross-purposes with the demands of a situation, leading to comical consequences. If you are a Hindi film music devotee who can quote years, names and lyrics with precision, then you are particularly likely to enjoy this film, like the gentleman seated just ahead of me in the theatre where I watched Bheja Fry 2, who kept completing Bhushan’s verses much to the amusement of his fellow viewers.
The film offers plenty of laughs, though not at an unrelenting pace. I particularly enjoyed Bhushan’s ridiculous English translation of Dard-e-dil, and an unexpected exchange with a gray-haired tycoon who allows alcohol to melt his “I spent most of my early years in America” snobbery to join Bhushan in a duet of Marathi songs. Equally hilarious is the North India-South India rivalry between Bhushan and his fellow IT inspector M.T. Shekharan. Their exchanges are filled with stereotypes, yet manage to steer clear of being offensive.
But in a film that’s filled with tasteful humour, I fail to understand the need for that pointless rape joke that was tossed into a conversation between Talwar and his friends. For the nth time, could Bollywood please note: RAPE IS NOT FUNNY!
Suresh Menon as M.T. Shekharan and Kay Kay Menon playing Talwar are the pick of the cast for me. The impact of Pathak’s performance is diluted to some extent because he has played the loveable simpleton too often in too many films since 2007 when Bheja Fry was released. I could still live with that (I liked him very much in Chalo Dilli earlier this year), but in Bheja Fry 2 there are too many places where I became conscious of the fact that he was acting, and not being just Bharat Bhushan. I must also say I was disappointed when the film arrived at the cameo by Amole Gupte playing an eccentric music buff living alone on a deserted island. Gupte recently played an oily schoolteacher to remarkable effect in his own directorial venture Stanley ka Dabba and was the nasty gangster poking fun at Shahid Kapoor in Kaminey. I’m not sure whether it’s the acting or the jumbled writing that’s to blame here. I just know that Gupte’s Raghu D. Burman in Bheja Fry 2 was too loud, too noisy, too muddled and I just couldn’t figure out what he was all about.
Still, it’s nice to see a light-hearted comic venture from Bollywood in which male infidelity is not the central theme (yawn!), nobody pees or farts to amuse us, and the entire cast doesn’t gather in the final scene to run around in circles like they do in pretty much every Priyadarshan and Anees Bazmee comedy. No, Bheja Fry 2 is simpler, not raucous and with all its flaws, it’s entertaining.
Rating (out of five): **3/4
CBFC Rating: U/A without any cuts or beeps. (The Censors wanted a scene removed, but the director changed a dialogue in the scene and got an okay from a review committee.)
Running time: 127 Minutes
Photograph courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bheja_Fry_2