6 May 2012

Film Review: Jannat 2 is just bad, not badass

In the first scene of Jannat 2, a small-time crook is cornered by an angry creditor in an Old Delhi gali. The creditor pulls a gun on him, but our hero isn’t scared in the least. He takes one look at the weapon being aimed at him, dismisses its low quality in impressive detail, and before you know it, has managed to sell the man his own (far cooler) gun – making a neat getaway and a profit. Meet Sunil Dhariwal, alias Sonu Dilli, KKC. Um, yes, Kutti Kameeni Cheez.

As you can probably tell from that moniker plastered all over the promos, the makers of Jannat 2 have their hopes pinned on some generic idea of badass-ness, which they pray will be filled out by the figure of Emraan Hashmi in a leather jacket and a laid-on-thick Dilli accent.

Even more than its 2008 predecessor, Jannat 2 rides on the proven ability of its louche leading man to play the streetsmart fixer with a heart of gold. He may unzip his trousers as casually for paid sex as he does to go to the loo, but really, we know he’s just waiting for true love.

So that when he meets perfectly coiffed medico Jahnvi (played by Miss India Esha Gupta: “Yeh doctorni hai ya jadugarni?”), we’re not at all surprised that all his kutte-kameene life plans are swiftly abandoned for a vision of cosy domesticity “jahan nahaane ke baad towel bhi sahi jagah pe rakhna padta hai nahi toh daant padti hai”.

Unfortunately, the romance feels as fake as the doctorni herself. The overblown quality of the first encounter or two can be put down to Bollywood rules and thus even enjoyed. Sadly, though, our leading lady’s implausibly overdressed hospital avatar is only a prelude to the tacky georgette saris and cleavage-revealing bustiers in which she must henceforth appear, as if embalmed in some declasse version of an ancient Garden Vareli ad. And any desire to rescue her from this goongi gudiya state is scotched the moment she opens her mouth. (Though perhaps it is befitting that a heroine whose persona is more about Sonu Dilli’s fantasy than anything else should say such things as “Pata nahi mera dil aisa kyon keh raha hai ki tumhaare dil mein kucch hai jo tum keh nahi pa rahe ho”.)

Hashmi, in comparison, slips into his role with the enviable ease of one who’s done this before. Not even the overcooked dialogue – especially annoying in the voiceovers, where he’s talking to himself – can quite puncture our belief that he really is Sonu Dilli, hotheaded smooth talker extraordinaire, but eventually just a puny pawn in Delhi’s gun binness.

Or perhaps it’s just that he has a slightly more winsome role than poor Randeep Hooda, who’s saddled with playing a cop out to kill the gun binness because, er, a stray bullet killed his wife. Apart from beating up everyone in sight and mouthing as many ‘ch’ gaalis as he possibly can, he scowls and grimaces his way through the film, spending his time getting sodden drunk in the company of his sidekick (Brijendra Kala, with not much to do here) and listening to his dead wife’s voice on an answering machine tape a la Johnny Gaddar. (The filmmakers seem to recognize the implausibility of this life story, because they introduce it by having Kala narrate it to an acquaintance who keeps saying he must be joking.)

There’s nothing wrong with the plot as such, except that it’s thoroughly predictable and therefore thoroughly boring. Sharp execution could have saved the film from its mindnumbing fate – and very occasionally it does, as in a sequence shot deep in the bowels of the Nizamuddin dargah, in the passages that lead to the baoli. But the occasional high octane chase through a network of Sintex-tanki terraces, or the sight of guns being packed in a gleaming handicraft shop is drowned deep in a sea of genericness. Director Kunal Deshmukh seems tragically content to spend his time (and the producers’ money) wandering aimlessly from Qutb Minar to Hauz Khas and back in the vain hope of cashing in on an imagined ‘Delhi film’ tag.

The rest of the cast puts in a desperate effort to keep the ship afloat – Manish Choudhary as gunrunning kingpin Mangal Singh Tomar has a couple of moments, and Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub as Sonu’s best pal Balli is almost memorable – but Jannat 2 cannot be saved from sinking to the bottom.

One only hopes it won’t be rising to the surface as Jannat 3.

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