Fukrey Returns (2017) Review!!!

Synopsis – Just out of jail, a don is ready to get back at the four friends who conned her.

My Take – Backed by Ritesh SIidhwani & Farhan Akhtar, the original 2013 film from director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba, though initially seemed like a poor man’s Delhi Belly, did manage to find its audience & crawled its way to become a sleeper hit, after slow start at the box office. Winning praise for its gripping storyline about four good-for-nothing, middle-class boys in Delhi who embark upon a harebrained scheme to raise money by predominantly interpreting one Choocha’s dreams, along with the entertaining punches delivered by characters were not only unique but hard to fall in love with. Now four years later, the gang is back, with a similar leave your brains & logic at home premise, just this time bigger, and manages to build on everything that made the original successful especially the addle-pated humor mixed with conviction both from the writers and for the audience. Like a true sequel (a rarity in Bollywood), director Lamba has also absorbed and assimilated his characters (in this case the heroines and supporting cast as well) so deeply that he ended up devising and executing an organic plot with the necessary basic ingredients. Here, the twists and turns in the story and the suspense element keep you glued to your seat. While there are not enough moments that will send you laughing hard, the performances make up for all that is lost. If you were to compare, you’d still find the original better than the sequel, and even though financially speaking the sequel has already made three times (103 Crore worldwide till date) more than its predecessor lifetime total of 36.5 Crore, it was the novelty factor that was undeniably impressive. However, that aside, this film is too fairly enjoyable, especially the ones looking for some comic relief.

Taking place a year after the events of the first film, the story follows Hunny (Pulkit Samrat), Choocha (Varun Sharma), Lali (Manjot Singh) and Zafar (Ali Fazal) who have moved on with their lives after successfully entrapping lady gangster, Bholi Punjaban (Richa Chadda) behind bars. Zafar is buying an apartment for Neetu (Vishakha Singh), his ladylove and making plans to get married; even Hunny is settled with his girlfriend Priya (Priya Anand) and is looking to set up a proper business to finally lead a stable life, while Lali is still single, yet happy in his place. Of course, Choocha still gets dreams, and the three still milk this opportunity to win lotteries but on a smaller scale, all the while still planning his future with Bholi Punjaban. However, unknown to them, she is seething in jail and in order to get out, she strikes a deal with Babulal Bhatia (Rajiv Gupta), an ambitious politician, and once out she makes sure that the four are once again scrambling to keep life and limb intact. However, an incident leads to Choocha being blessed with premonitions, which only leads to more trouble, deeper ditches and lots of dangers on their way ahead. The scam is bigger this time and stakes are higher, with not just Bholi but the police and Delhi public looking to catch hold of the fukras to settle scores! Panditji (Pankaj Tripathi) is again the star add-on to the mess, as the fun quotient not only never lessens but moves in an upward arc. The opening sequence wherein Hunny gets bitten by a snake on his butt (none other than Bholi, Choocha’s eternal love is the Nagin) and then the good friend that Choocha is, sucks the poison out. The entire sequence is hilarious to say the least, and sets the tone for the rest of the film. Here, director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba strikes the right balance in keeping the comic flavor alive in the sequel. Set entirely in Delhi, the fun element is intact. The narrative is piled high with breathless action, a lot of it involving the characters running around the narrow lanes and over-bridges of Delhi. For a large part of the film, the protagonists are either being chased or hunted down, even in their dreams. It’s all done in the spirit of a festive if doomed farce orchestrated and executed with a casual finesse that is easy to miss if you are used to haphazard slapstick comedies from Bollywood. Writer Vipul Vig and director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba maintain the essence of the characters and the city of Delhi, where the film is set and that alone scores a big plus for the sequel and Vig too seems to have absorbed the friends and their environment deep inside, vis-à-vis his superficial first attempt. The cinematography (by Andres Menezes) is constantly hunting down elusive dreams in crowded, bustling roads. While the dialogues with Delhi lingo are peppy and the characters engaging, the plot seems too farfetched. The screenplay wavers with scenes of jolly wholesome entertainment with incredibly humorous moments and moments that painfully drag. While the first half is promising, the second half is simply tedious with laughatons and the chase that seems like a marathon. By the climax, the writing is slack and predictable. The strength of the film lies in the regular sudden escalation of humor (audiovisual, only in the lines or only visual, but relentless) in the most unexpected and often already funny situations. Trust me; there is nothing haphazard or random in the way writer Vipul Vig and director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba spin a destiny of disconcerting chaos around the characters.

Four years have passed since the first part of the film and yet, the narrative helps you make an instant connect with all the four fukras, Panditji and Bholi. Amongst all these, Choocha shines, as bright as he did in the first one. He is so silly that he is funny and even when the frame is on someone else; you await his reaction to every situation. A classic example is where Choocha asks the hotel receptionist for a gadget (it will be a spoiler to mention what it is and what he asks for here!) when she already knows what a nutcase he is, and how the same actor narrates how he was “acquired’ by his father. Circumscribing a world of chit funds, body part smuggling, animal poaching and French kissing, the wickedly anarchic world of the film is much smarter and far more intelligent than it outwardly seems. This is a world of rapid fire happenings where what goes around doesn’t necessarily come around. Director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba also smartly represents the scam of Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi. The humor quotient fades off post interval and gets overshadowed by the current political system of the country. Sequels are expected to be bigger, better and ideally build on everything that made the original successful. On paper, the sequel boasts of everything one expects from a sequel, except that the novelty factor which actually made its predecessor popular is missing. The original primarily worked because it got hold of the most little things and presented in a relatable format. Like the youth’s aspiration to make quick money or the Hunny-Chucha bond that worked as a reflection of real life bro-code or the Hunny-Priya ‘french-kiss’ conversations, or the beggar that turned out to be the richest character in the film or the ‘quintessential Dilli’ things including the mata ki chowki scene. What made the original work was how Vipul Vig‘s writing made the implausible seem believable and charming. That level of precision in the script, sadly, is never achieved here. Some jokes fall flat, major chunks have an exasperating lull, but Varun Sharma singlehandedly saves the day for us. His maverick Choocha, with all the endearing crankiness, is most fun to watch. With the plot focusing majorly on him, he brightens up the screen with his on-the-nose histrionics. Here, Sharma invests his part with a lot of foot-in-the-mouth heart. His Choocha is a lovable loser, an incorrigible dreamer and a chronic disaster. Pulkit Samrat has a routine role as the Salman Khan clone, but nevertheless impresses with his sincerity & chemistry with Varun Sharma. Ali Fazal (especially) and Manjot Singh are surprisingly shortchanged, though they do well. Richa Chadda, as always a dependable actor, perfectly essays the cad of a woman with a heart hidden somewhere deep inside her completely selfish temperament. Pankaj Tripathi, whose wit and comic timing never tires and he manages to make you giggle in every scene. Over the course of this film, he wrings laughs from a fixed stare, a costume change, words like arrogance and slippery. The ladies, Priya Anand and Vishakha Singh get no scope. Rajiv Gupta plays the genre-specific villain with complete restrain and relish it’s exciting and amusing. On the whole, ‘Fukrey Returns’ is a sharp and witty comedy which despite falling short in comparison to its original, manages to keep you engaged throughout with its fun quotient.

Directed – Mrighdeep Lamba

Starring – Pulkit Samrat, Manjot Singh, Ali Fazal

Rated – PG

Run Time – 141 minutes

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