Movie Review: Welcome Back

Cast: Anil Kapoor, Nana Patekar, Paresh Rawal, John Abraham, Naseerudin Shah, Shruti Haasan, Dimple Kapadia, Ankita Srivastava, Shiney Ahuja, Rajpal Yadav

Direction: Anees Bazmee

Production: Firoz Nadiadwala

Rating: 1.5/5

Review: Eight years after ‘Welcome’, the crew is back. And the only question we are left asking is ‘why’?

The original was full of obligatory silliness. It had the sexist jokes (Paresh Rawal, playing Dr Ghungroo, keeps turning his head wherever there is a full bosom, and getting thwacked across the face for his pains). It had the juvenile lines. It had the characters leaping and shouting. It was, basically, the big loud Bollywood comedy, with a plot that would make a wafer look thick, just situational gags, piled upon each other.

But, and here’s the thing, Aneez Bazmee pulled it off. It was funny in its broad way. It slapped a stick, and set up a rhythm: Nana Patekar, suits and sneer, and Anil Kapoor, stubble and ‘tapori’ lingo in place, as the good-natured hoods who want a ‘decent’ boy for their niece, played by Katrina. The bespectacled Akshay as Ghungroo’s nephew, who falls in love with the pretty Kat. Mallika Sherawat as the party girl who ensnares the bad boys. And Feroz Khan as the biggest mobster of them all.

‘Welcome’ had a welcome lightness in most of its steps. And it made us laugh. ‘Welcome Back’, minus Akshay and Katrina, plus John and Shruti, and Dimple and a new girl, and Naseer and Shiney, clomps about, looking for the laughs. And failing, mostly, to find them.

One inspired sequence towards the end has Anil, Nana, Rawal and John (who replaces Akshay as hunky leading man in the sequel, with no salutary effect) stumbling about a graveyard. The dramatis personae include a dead body which is not dead, a gunny sack, a half-dug grave, and the actors passing the ball to smoothly to each other, ending in a nice slam dunk.

Those five or so minutes, and a couple of stray lines here and there, make you wonder: if this is what the filmmakers are capable of, why not have the entire film in this vein? I missed Akshay and the pouty Mallika. Heck, even Katrina.

This time around, we find the original trio–Uday (Nana Patekar), and Majnu (Anil Kapoor) and Ghungroo (Paresh Rawal) in the same dilemma, except the niece and nephew have been turned into stepsister (Shruti Haasan) and stepson (John Abraham). The goons are struggling with being good, and finding a life companion for themselves, their attention split between a pair of female cons (Dimple and new girl Ankita, both outfitted in the most outlandish of costumes), and a blind baddie (Naseerudin Shah in a woolly white wig) and his druggie son (Shiney Ahuja in a pink jacket).

There really is no reason why the sequel, despite the collective clunkiness of John and Shruti, shouldn’t have worked in exactly the same way. But the jagged narrative and heavy-handed manner of delivering dialogue, much more risible and tasteless than the original, ruins it. We’ve moved on ; the film, and its treatment, hasn’t. A characters keeps saying: ‘mazaak tha bhai, mazaak’. A comedy which uses this line so many times is telling you to laugh. Where’s the show?

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