June 7, 2013
Dharmendra, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol, Annu Kapoor, Neha Sharma, Kristina Akheeva, Anupam Kher, Johnny Lever, Sucheta Khanna
Yamla Pagla Deewana Part 1 was fun. Yeah yeah, it was nutty and over the top, but heck, I like nutty-and-over-the-top when it’s well done. Besides, Dharmendra and his sons – who starred in the first instalment of the franchise too – share a wonderfully warm on-screen chemistry, they play off each other well, Dharam Paaji’s comic timing remains impeccable all these years later, the supporting performances were gems, the songs were music to the ears and despite a slow start, YPD1 ended up being hilarious as hell. Boring as hell are the words that come to mind after watching Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 though.
YPD1 was directed by Samir Karnik who brought a certain freshness to the story of a no-good father (Dharam Singh played by Dharmendra) whose two sons are at extreme ends of the spectrum of virtue: Gajodhar (Bobby Deol), a confidence trickster in Benaras like his dad, and Paramveer (Sunny Deol), a respectable professional in Canada. YPD2 director Sangeeth Sivan takes the exact same premise, places the characters in formulaic situations in London, gives them barely anything amusing to do, and tries desperately to cash in on some of the gimmicks that worked well in Part 1 (such as Sunny sending people flying in all directions with a single scream and the self-deprecating quips about Deol trademarks including the famed left feet). He then throws in some dull songs, chucks in Salman Khan references ad nauseam (amusing the first couple of times but subsequently yawn-worthy), supplements that with a bunch of self-referential Deol jokes (including one in which Gajodhar uses the names of all Bobby’s films in a couple of sentences … yawn!), and stretches the boredom to almost three hours.
To make matters worse, Johnny Lever as the villain’s comic sidekick contorts his face as he’s done in a million films already and serves up (hold your breath for originality!) an SRK imitation… yawn yawn yawn! The director fails to give us even one well-shot, innovative action scene featuring Sunny whose USP all these years has been his ability to throw punches. Sucheta Khanna, who was lovely as a Canada-obsessed Punjabi kudi in YPD1, is tiresome as the sidekick’s sidekick here. And Mukul Dev, who was a revelation in YPD, makes an inexplicable appearance of a few seconds in this one. The low point of unfunniness in YPD2 though involves two orangutans making love as Sheela ki jawaani plays in the background.
Women, as you know, are dispensable in the eyes of Bollywood’s sequel makers. And so, Dharam’s and Param’s wives and Gajodhar’s girlfriend from YPD1 are relegated to the dustbin in YPD2, giving the sons an opportunity to fall in love with new girls played by actresses young enough to be their daughters. All this I guess is based on Bollywood’s much-touted assumption that audiences love established heroes but want to see “fresh faces” playing heroines, the way consumers demand fresh fruits and vegetables in the market.
The first half hour of Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 is bearable – it’s hard not to be charmed when Dharmendra smiles down at you from the screen, or when he pretends to be billionaire businessman Dharam Oberoi who insists on “Oberoi pranaam” instead of Namaste as a greeting. Hmm, this wouldn’t by any chance be a Deol pranaam to Subroto Roy Sahara’s infamous “Sahara pranaam”, now would it? But it’s mostly downhill from there. Annu Kapoor – who plays a London-based businessman being conned by Dharam and Gajodhar – does manage to rise above the mayhem each time he switches to a heavily British English accent. The half a dozen Sumo wrestlers who materialise for a fight had the potential to be funny, but by the time they arrive it’s too late to lift the film. There’s one original gag – yes, precisely one – that could and should have been the fulcrum of this story. It involves an orange ape called Einstein, a painting and a brilliant jibe at the pretentiousness of ‘serious’ art buffs. But Sangeeth Sivan and the writing team of Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 fail to take that forward, instead churning out all the elements that were mandatory in 1970s and ’80s masala fare: heroes, heroines whose primary job is to look pretty, comedians and a villain.
The story for what it’s worth… Actually it’s not worth much so let’s forget it. The lines delivered by the lead villain – played by Anupam Kher – epitomise the juvenility and tiredness of the film’s humour. “Both of you three keep quiet,” he yells at his flunkies, borrowing an over-used joke from generations of Indian schoolkids. When told by the aforesaid flunkies that his business plans will make him amar, he says, “Amar hi nahin, main Akbar aur Antony bhi ho jaaoonga.” He then forces everyone to laugh at the joke, saying, “C’moooon, it’s a joke. Clap clap.” The words should have been flashed on screen through the rest of the film as a reminder that this was meant to be a comedy. Could someone please write a genuinely funny script for Dharmendra? He deserves better than this.
Rating (out of five): *1/2
CBFC Rating (India):
Photograph courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamla_Pagla_Deewana_2