Judwaa 2: Offensive, forgettable, unforgivable
Proves that rolling materials of a different kind and getting down to write is way better than rolling back the years and rehashing
Raja (Varun Dhawan) - he started when he was 8 or so - loves to spank unsuspecting women, in public places. Prem (Varun Dhawan again, of course) loves to plant a wet one on unsuspecting women and their mothers, quite literally, which is, still, apparently all on Raja, thanks to some crazy knot of science the filmmakers (David Dhawan and screenwriter Yunus Sajawal here, David Dhawan before that in 1997, E.V.V Satyanarayana in Telugu three years prior, Jackie Chan along with Ringo Lam, Tsui Hark having started it all) conjured up. But when Samara (Taapsee Pannu) is molested, Raja sees it for what it is, asks the perpetrators a couple of questions about their behaviour, before getting down to the business of landing a few punches on them. Just like Raja and Prem cannot decide what's the appropriate way to behave towards other human beings, Varun Dhawan cannot decide what he wants to make of the 90s. At one end, he is the mouthpiece of Shashank Khaitan in the Dulhaniya franchise, places a mirror in front of all questionable aspects of the 90s Hindi film staples, and tries to course correct them in both convincing and unconvincing ways. But here he is again, in another callback to 90s Bollywood, in irresponsible deference of everything worth forgiving and forgetting about the 90s. But that is the genius of Dhawan senior. The well-cooked subtext is in the Vivan Bhatena character. He keeps encountering his memory only in fits and starts. Just like Dhawan (both).
Director: David Dhawan
Cast: Varun Dhawan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Taapsee Pannu
David Dhawan doesn't go back to just the 90s to begin his film. One of the first few dialogues goes "humne charo taraf se gher liya hai." He's rolled it way, way back. Charles, the villain, if you can call him one, played by Zakir Hussain, keeps interrupting to say that he doesn't want to waste anyone's time by explaining things. He follows that up by saying, "blah blah blah blah". Which was probably in the script - if one existed - and, this is admirable, because in a lot of cases that is literally what anyone can say to explain the flow here. The film is set in London, only because it is 2017, but Dhawan must bring the tapori character Raja here, from Mumbai, so he simply devises a kerfuffle gone wrong, a quick passport creation courtesy a special appearance of another 90s artefact in Johnny Lever, quick jobs, quick lodgings and Raja is in front of the London Eye. Vivan Bhatena has to get his memory back? A kid in Arsenal jersey kicks a ball, a kid in West Ham (I think) jersey kicks it back, Raja kicks it, a nun kicks it, the ball towers over towers and skyscrapers of London, and lands on Bhatena's head to reintroduce him to his memory. Charles is not kidding. It really is blah blah blah blah.
Such is this film's creative bankruptcy, standing as a proud symbol for 2017 Bollywood, it confesses that it's all blah blah blah blah. But nothing here is ironic even if the people think they are being ironic. There are white people in the Ganapati Puja dance off with Raja at the beginning. There is ragging in colleges of United Kingdom. Samara says, "he acted fresh with me". Varun Dhawan is not the only person confused. Fresh is the last word to be associated with this film. Not for the story, the comedy, the songs or the acting. Unfortunately, Dhawan is capable of comedy. He can sell a simple phrase like ekdum rapchik apna as a non-sequitur with his timing and sincerity. His timing deserves a comedy film that tries.
Judwaa 2 proves that rolling materials of a different kind and getting down to write is way better than rolling back the years and rehashing. That at least would have given way to films like, say, Shandaar, that may not have worked as well as we'd have liked but was imaginative as hell, along with being inoffensive. But of course, we unceremoniously dismissed that. We need more Anvita Dutts. All is forgiven.