Synopsis – Inheriting from the ancestors, the legacy of the Ayurveda panacea ‘Vajrakavach’, a famed and effective remedy for all ills, the brother duo Pooran and Kaala use the kavach with varied intentions.
My Take – The Deols are back once again! Back in 2011, following the success of their 2007 sports drama, Apne, the trio marked their first foray into comedy with the Samir Karnik directed film titled Yamla Pagla Deewana, a play off from one of Dharmendra‘s popular retro songs. And to everyone’s surprise the film did quite well, mainly due to an indigenous charm attached to it. The whole Canada-Punjab-Benares set up offered enough to the audience, for the Deols to cast their charm while also managing to make us laugh out loud.
However, the 2013 sequel-in-spirit ruined the fun with an overzealous plot along with the addition of an orangutan to the cast. The film was so ridiculous, that I couldn’t bring myself to remember the cheer from the first edition of this series, which banked on their rollicking camaraderie. The novelty was clearly lost the second time around and it showed on the screen. But this time around, Navaniat Singh, who has a couple of Punjabi films to his credit as a director, has made sure that the franchise comes to a definite end as this third installment does nothing to impress. Marketed as a comic caper, the film just throws in some Punjab based banter, racist jokes, stereotypes, filler songs, and action sequences, all to be end up looking like a yawn-fest.
Obviously, the makers of this film had a strong conviction that the film would be a commercial success, because there is no cinematic reason for making it, especially following YPD2‘s commercial failure, instead it just seems like yet another attempt at selling the Deol family pack, where Bobby provides the laughs, Sunny provides the muscle power, and Dharmendra the nostalgia, while everything else is incidental. Being a fan myself, while it does feel good to see the Deols reunite on-screen, the trio are terribly let down by atrocious writing and sloppy direction. Despite the sincere attempts of the cast and a somewhat social message, the film is just one too many for the franchise.
Taking place in Amritsar, Punjab, the story follows two brothers, Puran (Sunny Deol) and Kaala (Bobby Deol), who belong to a family of Ayurveda experts who invented a special medicine called Vajrakavach which has extraordinary healing powers. While several big pharmaceutical companies in the past have tried to lure Puran into sharing the formula of the medicine, he refused to part with it as he firmly believes that the medicine was invented to help everyone, be it rich or poor, selflessly. A result of which, Kaala, the younger good for nothing, who is always in a hurry to make a lot of money finds his dream of going to Canada being vetoed by his older brother’s idealism.
While he does get distracted by hopelessly falling in love with Chikoo (Kriti Kharbanda), an ENT doctor from Surat, who arrives in Amritsar to learn about the ancient practice of Ayurveda from his widowed brother, their rather mundane existence is shattered when, Marfatia (Mohan Kapoor), a pharmaceutical baron, who Kaala had introduced to Puran regarding the sale of the formula, and ended up vowing revenge due to an altercation, ends up finding the formula, and patents it to his company. While all hopes seem lost, the two decide to seek the help of their rather temperamental tenant, Parmar (Dharmendra), an erstwhile Casanova who is also a sharp and intelligent lawyer of repute, to get them justice.
A lot has changed in seven years! While Sunny Deol has done a couple of films to dilute the interest of watching him perform with his father and brother, their mojo together just seems lost. While last year’s underrated Poster Boys gave a glimpse of how much Sunny and Bobby can have together when they are directed right, this time around they seem trapped more in the burden of making a silly yet comic film, than actually making it. Here, the whole film which limps and drags through its tiresome 145 mins run time just seems like a hopeless wait for the semblance of some kind of plot or some kind of shenanigans or a single decent joke, but nope, it never happens.
The film is just a long-drawn-out story that is sapped of any possibility of interest by its weak writing, as the screenplay is just riddled with clichéd jokes that fail more often than they succeed. While the film does show some promise in the beginning as we watch Dharmendra talks to invisible women, Sunny blasts pillars with his punches and Bobby groove to the surprisingly melodious tune of Nazarbattu, it all soon becomes troublesome when you keep soaking in the reflected glory of the past for the next 40 minutes. A lot of time is wasted in portraying the love track between Kaala and Chikoo and it is only after the first half that the story line is introduced along with some punch lines.
The film goes a long way and tries hard to make the audience laugh out loud but is unable to reach any comedy milestone. The forced wackiness can be easily felt in the film as there are only a few scenes which actually make us laugh. Here, director Navaniat Singh tries to use every trick priory seen in other wacky comedies but fails to create any magic here. With its prolonged run time, the film bogs down during some repetitive, too-similar gags, and especially during the sentimental moments. As a viewer I got pulled out of the film’s momentum so quickly that I realized that the otherwise good ensemble was also a kind of bored performing the generic buffoonery.
The ill-conceived screenplay is replete with silly dialogue and unfunny gags that seldom make you laugh. There is a scene in the film in which Chikoo suggests an idea to get his troubling tenant Parmar, she says he should throw his belongings out of the house and he will automatically move out of the house. He agrees to the idea and does the same. Who, in his right mind, would suggest an absurd like this? The film also touches upon some interesting things like prohibition in Gujarat, cultural differences between Punjabis and Gujaratis but it fails to extract humor out of these tropes effectively. This is make-believe film making of the 1980s, where Punjabis are the drunk population and the Gujaratis are the ones who fuss over allowing ‘non-vegetarians and alcohol’ in their meat free neighborhoods. Playing on regional divide in this day and age isn’t particularly celebrated.
The film harps on it incessantly in a rather puerile fashion. The culture clash is incidental, and has nothing in particular to add to the central conflict or the texture of the film. There is a sense of laziness that’s evident from director Navaniat Singh‘s approach, as he doesn’t even try to make a watchable film. While the appearance of Shatrughan Sinha as a judge, and his banter with Dharmendra in court, manages to provide some comic relief, the climax courtroom scene ends up being so absurd that it stops being funny a few minutes in. While plays to the strengths of the actors whose careers it is trying to revive, but one only wishes the writing wasn’t so out of touch. For some, the saving grace of this dud of a film would actually be the end credits i.e. the Rafta Rafta medley with Rekha, Salman Khan and Sonakshi Sinha joining in, but you could also just watch that on YouTube and save your hard-earned money instead.
Coming to the performances, Sunny Deol appears the most impressive in the film and also acts as a driving force of it. While, Bobby Deol, in his revamped avatar since ‘Race 3’, puts in a sincere effort and manages to impress. Kriti Kharbanda too performs her role well and appears breathtakingly gorgeous throughout the film. Mohan Kapoor gets to play a caricaturist villain but he does not disappoint as an actor. The saddest sight is of the once great Dharmendra struggling to get through his lines. The veteran looks a shadow of his charming, rustic Punjabi image but is forced to continue to play the stereotype. One almost feels sorry for him. The rest of the supporting cast is average. On the whole, ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se’ is a sloppy and downright absurd yawn inducing film which despite being less bizarre than its predecessor manages to be cringe-worthy enough to end the franchise.
Directed – Navaniat Singh
Rated – PG
Run Time – 145 minutes