If you believe in hints, you know that the opening scene of Bunty Aur Babli 2 is a hint that the film hasn’t been thought through. Before Saif Ali Khan’s Rakesh and Rani Mukerji’s Vimmi are introduced with a lovely dance number, we have a young girl, aged 5-6 years, dancing to Kajra Re, while boys her age look at her. If the makers thought this was a genius way to bring back Aishwarya Rai’s iconic item number, they got it wrong. There’s anyway the entire discussion about voyeurism in Hindi Cinema and female objectification in item numbers. That you put a child at the centre of this – I don’t see any reasons.
Bunty Aur Babli 2 picks up 15 years after the Shaad Ali directorial, “The Original” Bunty Aur Babli ended. Rakesh and Vimmi are now living a life they had both escaped. In Phursatganj, he works in the railways and she is a stay at home mom still living her Miss India dream by stitching replicas of Sabyasachi outfits and putting rollers in her hair everyday. They’re a regular, middle class family, until there’s a con. The con is in their “brand name”, Bunty Aur Babli and from here, both, the cops and Rakesh and Vimmi begin a hunt to catch the new Bunty-Babli. The cops, headed by Jatayu Singh (Pankaj Tripathi) to catch the con artists and the middle aged couple to seek revenge. “Woh humara brand name use kar rahe hain,” Rani Mukerji’s Vimmi remarks at various points, maybe in different words.
Promising actors don’t make promising films.
The premise is interesting. But the writing is not. There isn’t enough meat in the writing for it to be sequel material, especially of a film as iconic as Bunty Aur Babli. Not that the first film made sense and was pure cinematic genius, no. But that film has the energy it needed to be able to cover the faults in the script. Writer-director Varun V Sharma’s film lacks just that. It’s like Bunty Aur Babli also stole the magic from his film. The plot is lost and the schemes seem all too redundant. Apart from the Ganga Lease Agreement con, none of the cons worked for me. It seemed like Sharma had taken inspiration from the original film, where Bunty and Babli sell off the Taj Mahal.
The only colour in the film lies in Vimmi’s wardrobe. She’s wearing the most bizarre Sabyasachi shararas, kurtas and sarees. And while I understand that’s her character, it somehow didn’t work for me. All the silhouettes are exactly the same, just in different prints. Sabyasachi’s team seemed too bored to even change the border of Vimmi’s printed dupattas. In the first film too, Vimmi has a wardrobe as bizarre but there it worked because that bizarreness had range. Here, it’s all the same.
However, Rani Mukerji and Saif Ali Khan provide some solace to the film. Their performances, comic timing, and most importantly their chemistry – it’s all outstanding. It looked like they came on sets to have fun and that’s what they did. The result of that are many individual scenes shining in their glory. Sharma, however, wastes the younger Bunty and Babli – Siddhant Chaturvedi and Sharvari. Both of them have been given flat characters, without proper back stories. We knew where the original Bunty and Babli had come from, why and under what circumstances they got into the con business, how they fell in love. But here, we know nothing. Their story begins with a random scene and never really takes off. This is heartbreaking to see, because both Chaturvedi and Sharvari are promising actors. Watch out for Sharvari when she plays an officer in the PMO. She’s incredible there.
But Bunty Aur Babli 2 is proof of the fact that promising actors don’t make promising films. Content is king, and here that’s what’s missing. How else would you explain even Pankaj Tripathi not being able to weave his magic?
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