Cast: Varun Dhawan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Taapsee Pannu, Zakir Hussain, Vivan Bhatena, Anupam Kher, Upasana Singh, Rajpal Yadav, Pawan malhotra, Ali Asgar, Manoj Joshi and Manoj Pahwa
Director: David Dhawan
You have to give it to Judwaa 2 for managing the unthinkable. Barely 10 minutes into the film and I was irritated, craving the original Judwa (1997), and thinking how good Salman Khan was, once upon a time...
I mean, good and Salman Khan in the same sentence — that deserves kudos.
It also tells you how dull this film is.
Judwaa 2, which arrives 20 years after Salman Khan romanced both Rambha and Karisma Kapoor in a movie its producer Sajid Nadiadwala had dedicated to Divya Bharti, is like those bad photocopies which are slightly skewed, with some bits hazy and others simply garbled.
Because you’ve seen the original, it kinda makes sense. On its own, it doesn’t.
It does, however, make you want to seek out the original.
In India, one Mrs Malhotra has twins just as Mr Malhotra arrives, having irritated, en route, a bad diamond smuggler called Charles (Zakir Hussain) who makes double air quotes even when he’s saying nothing that deserves to be even in single quote marks.
Doctor saab is explaining to Mr and Mrs Malhotra, by pinching one newborn, that they are one in eight million marvels of reflexology, or some such. Ek royega toh doosra bhi royega, ek hasega toh doosra bhi hasega, it seems. But, of these conjoined-but-now-separated twins, one is weak while the other is bahadur. Doctor saab may well have added, one will be sharif, other a tapori, one a lallu while other will be shana.
He doesn’t, and just then the air quote guy decamps with one twin. Raja, is brought up by a poor lady in Versova, Mumbai, while Prem grows up with his parents in London. Raja does that thing which men do when their chaddie crawls up their crotch, exactly as Salman’s did 20 years ago.
Prem plays the piano and guitar, while Raja phodos hard nariyals on one Alex’s head, making him lose his memory, eventually...
Immediately, however, Alex, S/O Charles, puts his mean minions after Raja and his lisping pal Nandu (Rajpal Yadav). To escape the baddies, what do you think Raja and Nandu do? Take the Rajdhani to Delhi, Patna, Guwahati... No. These boys who have no passports, no money, fly off to London, en route Raja hitting on Alishka (Jacqueline Fernandez) who seemed quite pleased.
Meanwhile, in London, Prem has just joined a college which looks like the alma mater of Karan Johar’s dreams. Prem, however, is having a nightmare here. He’s being ragged, nangu-pangu, and so he’s crying. Though Sweet Samaara (Taapsee Pannu) saves him and love-shav happens, what’s noteworthy here is that we get to see Varun Dhawan’s six-pack since that’s how we now measure the worth of our lead actors.
Since both Raja and Prem are in London, obvo, there’s confusion of the judwa, humshakal kind till the movie drags itself to its predictable end where I was troubled by a quintessential issue, a question whose answer I seek and yet do not find: When a bad guy puts on a bomb vest on a good guy, why do all the good guys get together to play red wire-blue wire? Why don’t they just take off the vest and run?
It’s got to be either of these two scenarios. Ya toh Bollywood has fallen on such bad times that it has neither the calibre nor the talent to even attempt remaking iconic films that we still love, and so it’s now throwing its money on rather pedestrian, altu-faltu films.
Or, 30-year-old Varun Dhawan, who was launched by Bollywood’s Johar gharana, is so hard up for work that he begged daddy David Dhawan and producer uncle Nadiadwala to please they put a finger down each other’s throat and regurgitate an old, stale hit.
And, as if then to prove that nepotism, does, indeed rule Bollywood, he also got uncle Salman to not just give his blessings, but also to lend one of his current leading ladies. Sab aapas ka mamla hai, bro. Baaharwaale can keep cribbing. As Rahul baba said, India is like that only. Nepotism hi Bhagwan hai.
That’s why sweet daddy Dhawan summoned pretty much the entire cast of Comedy Night This and That, along with Pawan Malhotra and Rajpal Yadav to make the proceedings somewhat interesting and entertaining. But he forgot to give them anything.
Between Zakir Hussain, Pawan Malhotra, Ali Ashgar, Anupam Kher and the two Manojs, they probably got three decent lines. Upasana Singh, who had to make-do with Binduji’s horny-on-behalf-of-another routine, did it like they do it on TV — loud and tacky.
Judwa had Salman Khan and, well, Anu Malik, in full tapori form along side that stock 90s lot — Kader Khan, Shakti Kapoor and an always hysterically out of place Dalip Tahil.
Judwaa 2 is long and copies the original almost in toto — plot to dialogue — but for some reason it decided to leave out those nice, little comic routines in between, the ones that fleshed out characters and made the trek to the inevitable end enjoyable.
Here the same things happen over and over again, with that judwa reflexology thing appearing and disappearing when the movie desired. The film is so creatively handicapped that it could not muster even one decent songs. The two hummable songs are hits from the original — Oonchi hai building and Chalti hai kya 9 se 12.
A better screenplay, or a shorter film would have taken care of the long dry spells during which I went to pee, twice, and to buy tea to stop myself from dozing off.
Or, well, a better actor.
Apart from a daddy who loves him, Varun Dhawan has many things going for him. And yet, he is strictly okay.
Varun has good comic timing, can jump, has dole-shole, can dance, but there’s nothing impressive about him anymore. Worse, it’s increasingly clear that he is na ghar ka, na ghat ka.
In an item number in Judwaa 2 he does that sexy belly dance thing and for a few seconds I was riveted because he suddenly had that ambiguous sexuality thing going. His flying kicks that followed were impressive.
Varun can do action, comedy, romance, dance, look queer, yet in all of these it’s also very apparent that he’s faking it, pretending. Nothing he does seems to go even an inch beyond the surface. He can dive from the heaven to hit a baddie, but that visceral gussa, one which puts the fear of god in others he can’t project.
Here’s he’s neither able to be fully tapori nor a really nice guy. It’s all just too much feiging. And in the emotinal scenes he’s hysterically bad — Varun pulls such funny faces in dramatic scenes that he made me worry that he’s either going to sneeze out a big booger or on he’s going bonkers.
The two girls with him here appear in the cutest small dresses, but Varun is too asexual to have any real connect with either. This despite the fact that Jacqueline was so ready and poised for faltu fun.
Taapsee Pannu, on the other hand, seemed completely out of sync with the rhythm and spirit of the film. Though she came alive when she was dancing, in the rest of the film she was very thakela.