Banner: Excel Entertainment
Producers: Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani
Director: Mrighdeep Singh Lamba
Cast: Pulkit Samrat, Varun Sharma, Richa Chadha, Ali Fazal, Manjot Singh, Pankaj Tripathi, Vishakha Singh, Priya Anand
Writers: Vipul Vig, Mrighdeep Singh Lamba
Music: Sameer Uddin, Sumeet Bellary, Ram Sampath, Prem-Hardeep
We all know that there is some amount of risk being a Bollywood sequel. Many films that were hits the first time around lost their sheen – and the confidence of the audience – when their makers decided to take another swing at it with part two. Fortunately for everyone, Fukrey Returns holds its own, for the most part, at least. The film impresses and makes you laugh but not throughout.
The story begins with an introduction to the protagonists, Honey (Pulkit Samrat), Zafar (Ali Fazal), Lali (Manjot Singh) and of course Choocha (Varun Sharma). The quartet, with shiny new vehicles and highrise apartments, are set in their lives a year after they helped put Bholi Punjaban (Richa Chadha) in jail. They continue with their shady tricks, with Honey twisting Choocha’s weird dreams into winning lottery numbers and getting them easy money.
But little do they know that Bholi is cracking a deal inside the jail with politician Babulal Bhatia, which gives her instant freedom in exchange for Rs 10 crore. As soon as she steps out of prison, Bholi tracks down the Fukreys and threatens to extract revenge unless they help her get the money. How the four men with Bholi and Panditji get tangled in a mess, which leads to public humiliation and how they try to sort it all out using Choocha’s new-found ability to see the immediate future in flashes, is what the film is all about.
It was a smart move by the makers – director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba and producers Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani – to include a quick recap of the first film in the opening credits. It reminds the audience how they met the Fukrey quartet four years ago and fell in love with them. They also deserve credit for making sure that the protagonists retain the charm of all the original characters, the four men and Richa Chadha, apart from adding to it in a way that is not overbearing.
The first half of the film flows quickly as the audience enjoys their reunion with the characters. The story is well established but takes a lot of twists and turns by the time the interval rolls around. The second half is a little more paced as things start to get untwisted, smartly leaving a sliver of an opening for a third part.
There are some loopholes in the script as it dips and the storyline becomes absolutely eccentric. There are times when too many schemes come together, like the boys taking sides with Babulal and Bholi Punjaban, when trying to pull one double-cross over another along with the ever-continuing circle of who is taking revenge on whom and for what. All this makes for much confusion.
Another loophole, even if a subtle one, is the period the film is set in. Technically, the movie is set in 2014, a year after the first part, which was in 2013. But the use of the latest iPhones, of a (surprisingly entertaining) hawker singing Channa mereya, etc kind of breaks the pattern of the story with these discrepancies.
Coming back to the good part, the dialogue of the film is a sure-shot winner. From in-your-face slapstick, to subtle, straight-faced one-liners, to inside jokes known only to those who remember the first one, this movie has it all. All the characters could have entertained the audience in equal parts but Lamba has played on the strength of his most popular character, Choocha, and made sure his antics make people laugh throughout the film. Choocha’s obsession with Bholi Punjaban, textbook dimwit jokes and ridiculous stories take the cake, hands down.
Another flaw in the film is the significance of the protagonists. While all of them get almost an equal amount of screen time, Pulkit Samrat and Varun Sharma are clearly the male leads, with Richa Chadha being the female lead. Ali Fazal and Manjot Singh don’t fade into the background but their parts could have been meatier, which would have benefited the film.
The film sees some smart cinematography, which captures the narrow lanes of Delhi where the jugaad of the Fukrey team happens. There aren’t many songs to break the narrative except the seemingly forced item number Mehbooba to fulfil the 2017 classic recreation fetish of filmmakers. Other songs, like the title track, Tu mera bhai nai hai and Bura na mano bholi hai, are a perfect blend as they play in the background and sync with the story.
Performance-wise, Richa Chadha comes back strong in this dabangg avatar but she loses her spark in places. Pulkit Samrat is good as the Delhi ka chhora with a scheming brain. Varun Sharma playing Choocha is one of the best things about this film. Ali Fazal is decent in his role. Manjot Singh has his moments and holds his own throughout. Pankaj Tripathi playing Panditji is outstanding with his subtle comic timing. The other girls, Vishakha Singh and Priya Anand, put in an average performance.