Film: “Judwaa 2”; Cast: Varun Dhawan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Tapsee Pannu, Anupam Kher; Director: David Dhawan; Rating: ***1/2 (3 and a half stars)
In our country we revere the dead. And disrespect the urge to laugh and have fun. “Judwaa” too reminds us how enjoyable frivolity in cinema can be if packaged and executed expertly.
When a 20-year-old film about identical twins caught in a rough hour traffic of endearing inanity is rebooted, we immediately start getting emotional about the old film which incidentally, was trashed on release. We even begin to treat Anu Malik’s pedestrian tunes in the original as classics.
There is news for all nostalgia addicts. “Judwaa 2” is not only a more engaging ode to inanity than the original, but Varun Dhawan even manages to outdistance Salman Khan’s considerable energy level in the original, conveying a certain innocence in his body language that is the opposite of sexual candour.
What works bigtime for this sorted remake is its absolute honesty of intention. David Dhawan wants to entertain as he has been doing for decades. There is no socio-cultural political agenda (not counting a super-dumb reference to Donald Trump), no attempt to induce gravity into the binge of silliness. The point is the pointlessness.
The prattle and the preening is all so frenetic, we get no time to think. We just go with the flow. And flow with the glow and sparkle that father-son Dhawan generate together.
On that perilous level of utter abandon, “Judwaa 2” hangs by a slender thread unwilling to let go even a stray moment of potential pleasurability. The film’s obstinacy to win you over with a feast of fatuousness breaks down our defences after a while. “Judwaa 2” is the kind of massy rabble-rouser that we don’t see in mainstream cinema any more. We either have “realistic” romcoms set in small towns or wannabe Hollywood spectacles which go nowhere with their egoistic ambitions.
“Judwaa 2” is never embarrassed about its aspirations. It aims to be a lowbrow entertainer. Nothing more, nothing less. And it succeeds in being just that from the first frame to last. Everyone on screen has a blast. The mood of an ongoing party slithers down to the audience infecting us with a giggly sense of beholding guilty pleasures.
The film is lavishly mounted. Cinematographer Ayananka Bose shoots London with the lip-smacking relish of a tourist who has been there, done it all. There is the comfort of the familiar about the presentation which something quite the opposite of nostalgia. Speaking of which I wish Salman’s cameo bit had been better written into the plot. It is disappointingly glib and lacking magic.
Holding the crunchy crisp saga of mistaken identities together is Varun. He is so perky and on-the-ball, this film is bound to take his stardom many steps ahead. Without making a song and dance about it – or, shall we say making a LOT of song and dance about it, he manages to be an actor who connects with the child within himself and the audience.
With two ladies more than willing to swoon croon and smooch with him, Varun has himself a whale of a time. While Tapsee Pannu brings a kind of sobriety even to the wackiest incidents, Jacqueline Fernandez’s giggly sexiness is becoming tiresome and repetitive. A crash course in restraint is serious recommended.
The rest of the cast comprises some outstanding actors like Pavan Malhotra (playing an Indian cop in London out to ban illegal immigrants), Manoj Pahwa (delightful with his Punjabi-propah alliterations), Rajpal Yadav (reduced to being Varun’s sidekick) and Sachin Khedkar who leave a genial impression in spite of their brief parts. Everyone in the film quickly cottons on to the impetuous insouciant mood of the presentation.
So do we, actually. Don’t think about why and how the two Varun Dhawans end up where they do. There is a remarkable absence of apology or defence about the David Dhawan of entertainment. It exists for the sole purpose of providing mass entertainment. That Varun Dhawan proves to be such a chip off the old block is providential for David Dhawan.
We just know we are in it for fun. And to hell with gravity.