Scenes are mounted like skits where the young and senior con artists are introduced in a new set of guises after every few minutes
Occasionally funny, largely pretentious, this over-the-top reboot of the lovable con franchise spends more time fussing over its brand value than telling a story. Vimmy Trivedi (Rani Mukerji) and Rakesh Trivedi (Saif Ali Khan in place of Abhishek Bachchan) are forced out of their domestic bliss to take on a new set of con artists (Siddharth Chaturvedi and Sharvari Wagh) who have conducted a series of heists using the title of Bunty Aur Babli.
From giving Ganga river on lease under a public-private partnership scheme to a political leader collecting huge donations on her birthday or for that matter rampant unemployment despite churning out engineers by the minute from private education factories, writer-director Varun Sharma hints at real-life instances in the guise of humour but somehow the screenplay feels more like a Powerpoint presentation to persuade a producer to invest in his brand.
Scenes are mounted like skits where the young and senior con artists are introduced in a new set of guises after every few minutes. The con jobs work when the makers are able to sell them to the paying audience, not to the gullible characters on screen. When the accent has not been chewed enough, it irks. Pankaj Tripathi, as the wily police officer who ropes in Vimmy and Rakesh, shows how to do it but the lead players are found wanting. After a point, even the unassuming Tripathi looks at a loss as to how to sail over a script where everything is underlined with a bleeding marker.
One misses Jaideep Sahni’s writing in the original that seamlessly integrated the escapism to the restlessness of the unemployed youth in the new millennium. One looks for Gulzar’s lyrics that had put a meaning to the dreams of the small-town youth. In the name of continuity, what we get is Vimmi’s colourful dresses turning garish this time.
Siddharth is suitably cocky as he plays a variant of his Gully Boy character. He and Sharvari catch the eye, raise the cool quotient of the franchise, little else.
Taking the chirpy Vimmi forward, the reliable Rani is a little too earnest here. In an attempt to be the scene-stealer, she spoils quite a few because the writer doesn’t provide the material to match her high-pitched performance. In the original, Abhishek, with his brooding intensity, proved to be a great foil to her but here Saif, who is usually excellent in portraying tongue-in-cheek humour, seems to have been asked to keep it loud and one-note. Perhaps, it has been done to create a contrast with the youngsters. But in a bid to look dated, you don’t need to act old school. Vimmi and Rakesh keep saying to each other not to be overdramatic but the makers don’t seem to pay any heed. As a result, in the dark theatre, one hand keeps searching for the TV remote!
(’Bunty Aur Babli 2’ is currently running in theatres)