Bollywood's most lovable bhai is back, jovial sidekick in tow.
The obvious question first: Is Munna Bhai 2 as good as the first film? Bluntly put — yes, and in many ways better. Munna and Circuit’s odd-couple chutzpah is intact, the bhaigiri recipe is still full of beans, the premise is original in an oddball fashion (bhaigiri gets a Gandhigiri twist) and this is one film that beats the assembly-line diktat of manufacturing a sequel solely to rake it in.
Lage Raho Munna Bhai cleverly works its way around the obvious hurdle that almost all sequels face: The film recreates an original milieu without a hint of the déjà vu downer. And that precisely ranks Munna Bhai 2 as one of the best entertainers this year. If producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra and director Rajkumar Hirani plan to flesh out Munna Bhai Inc. as a full-fledged franchise in the future, the second innings definitely comes as a good sign.
In Lage Raho…, life is beautiful for Munna (Sanjay Dutt) and Circuit (Arshad Warsi), as always. The bhai business is in full swing and Munna has fallen in love. He dreams of Jahnvi (Vidya Balan), a feisty radio jockey whose voice drives him crazy. (Interesting: There’s no mention of Gracy Singh as Suman, Munna’s love interest in the first film. Did they sack Gracy because her career has hit the down phase?).
|Sanjay Dutt is back in the bhai boots
Jahnvi thinks Munna is a history teacher. And — no, he doesn’t enroll in a college to learn history this time — Munna just plays along. In a bizarre twist of events Jahnvi puts Munna’s history ‘knowledge’ to test. Without giving away the story, Munna finds an unlikely aide in Mahatma Gandhi.
Like Munnabhai MBBS, Lage Raho… subtly drops a comment amid all the wild humour. Hirani takes his narrative to the realm of the metaphysical to impart his message this time — he renders a Gandhian spin to it. It’s a most unusual tool to move the film forward, given the predominantly comic genre that the film belongs to. If it works, it’s thanks to the filmmaker’s clever downplaying of the idealism inherent. Without being preachy, Lage Raho… gently makes its own social statement.
Sanjay Dutt, back in the bhai boots he most loves to don, looks aged. But he has grown as a comic actor in the three years since MBBS. On comic actors, though, Arshad Warsi proves again why he is probably the best in business. His timing is simply impeccable. Boman Irani isn’t Mamu this time — he is a crafty builder out to make a mamu out of others, very much in form. And watch out for Vidya Balan. After Parineeta, Vidya goes for a role reversal as the sprightly Jahnvi with élan. This girl just rocks.
Lage Raho… shows the heights Hindi cinema can scale despite staying within its masala parameters. Lage raho, guys.