The sequel to Happy Bhag Jayegi, a sleeper hit of 2016, also directed by Mudassar Aziz, has all the charms, as well as all the flaws of the original.
Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi has to work out a very implausible excuse to have another Happy running around in China this time. In the earlier film, Harpreet Kaur (Diana Penty) had landed up in Pakistan by mistake, while trying to flee from her wedding to Daman Singh Bagga (Jimmy Sheirgill). In this film, she visits China, accompanied by her husband Guddu (Ali Fazal), and is mistaken for another Harpeet Kaur (Sonakshi Sinha), a botany professor. In the real world the misunderstanding would not even have arisen—surely the university that invited her to teach would have her photograph; and if she wanted to teach in China, surely she would have learnt Mandarin.
Meanwhile, the second Happy is kidnapped by Chinese thugs, led by Chang (Jason Tham), who picks her up thinking she is the first Happy. In a very silly plot device, they need her to persuade a Pakistani politician (whom she met in the first film) to go ahead with a deal; sillier still, they also kidnap Bagga on the day of his wedding, and the Pakistani cop also returning from the earlier film, Usman Afridi (Piyush Mishra) on his retirement day, to convince Happy to do the job.
While Happy-1 enjoys her trip to Shanghai, and the university none the wiser about the switch, Happy-2 escapes from the gangsters, and instead of calling the university, embassy or cops, she wanders around till she runs into lonely embassy employee Khushwant (Jassi Gill), who is guilt-tripped into helping a fellow Punjabi. This Happy’s actual mission is to trace her fiancé (Aparshakti Khurana), who ditched her on her wedding day.
Along with the squabbling Bagga and Afridi, they cause mayhem in Shanghai. Never mind the contrived plot, and the mild racism (“all Chinese look alike”), the banter between these two gets the most laughs. Aziz also creates some really comic characters like the Pakistani-Chinese Adnan Chow (Denzil Smith–hilarious), trying to get the locals to appreciate Urdu poetry and biryani, and a fake Chinese called Fa Qu. Jason Tham is a riot as the inept Hindi-speaking goon.
Like its predecessor, this one too, goes on much after the gags have dried up– a comedy should never let the audience get impatient for it to wrap up.
Sonakshi Sinha does her best, but is upstaged by the others, who have better roles and funnier scenes. Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi is more enjoyable than the first and threatens to become a franchise. As Happy-2 says, “Every third house in Punjab has a girl called Harpreet Kaur.”
Director: Mudassar Aziz
Cast: Sonakshi Sinha, Jassi Gill, Jimmy Sheirgill, Piyush Mishra and others
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best known entertainment journalists. A National Awardwinning film critic, Deepa has watched more movies and theatre than most people in the country. An author of several books on film and theatre, she has had an extremely successful run as head of theatre and film at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai, during which she helped nurture several original productions. For Xyngr, Deepa Gahlot reviews theatre and cinema.