Happy likes to run. She’s not an athlete. She just likes to run. She ends up in Pakistan as a result of her “hobby”. [*]
Happy Bhag Jayegi is a simple film, with a simple message. That message is nothing. Hold on, the message here is, if there is one, have fun. You’re in a theatre to relax, so relax. Forget the facts, the border clashes and the quagmire that is Kashmir. In fact, leave your beliefs out the window and just go watch a film that is what a film should be, a stress buster.
Happy (Diana Penty, aka Punjabi Kudi) lives life to the fullest. In fact, Happy is so happy that she leaves her fiancée, Bagga (Jimmy Shergill, aka Tera Bhai) for Tun-Tuna maestro Guddu (Ali Faizal, aka Dil-Jala Ashiq) by jumping from a window into a flower truck waiting to whisk her away to his loving embrace. In her happiness, she lands onto a truck bearing gifts (fruits, mangoes from Ratnagiri, basically the greatest hits of the Indian fruit scene) to Pakistan (haw!). The truck’s end destination is Bilal Khan (Abhay Deol, aka Jinnah 2.0, but less lying and more friendly), a rising politician who would rather play cricket. Who wouldn’t?
IF you think you know where the plot is headed, no cookies for you because the movie knows it too. What it wants from you is attention, what it promises (like a certain someone in 1947) is a few laughs. What is delivers is a lot of laughs. Moving from one set piece to the next and crossing more borders than a Dan Brown novel, it delivers humor in spades! Everything from the writing, to the dialogue, to the nuances of the characters is aimed at making sure you laugh.
Piyush Mishra excels at doing what my college professor failed at; he gives you a KG level crash course in Urdu. (respect for calling ‘music’, ‘mausiki’ and ‘siesta’ is ‘kailulla’) I feel bad for Jimmy Shergill, like really bad. Every movie he is in these days, guy gets left on the altar (no worries, Jimbo. You and I are in the same boat) but he makes sure you laugh at his misery. He is a bro in the movie, no seriously, he calls everyone he meets for two minutes bhai and refers to himself as ‘tera bhai’. If I’m ever in Amritsar and need someone to bail me out, I’m calling mera bhai, okay?
You know how in chess, you can play certain moves exclusively on a particular piece? Like, you cannot under utilize, say your rook by making it move like a pawn. This is Abhay Deol’s dilemma. He is a Rook being made to move at a pawn’s pace. But like the Rook, he slays everything in his path, while moving one square at a time. The movie rests on his shoulders, but the focus is on Diana Penty. By putting the focus on her, Abhay doesn’t get time to really fly-fly-fly. A little more should have been put onto his plate. It would have also given Momal Sheik’s character (Zoya aka Bilal’s Old Lady) a platform to sound off on. This lack of characterization makes her feel a little restrained. However, in the space that they have, they shine and their chemistry is like a promise of spring that never really comes to fruition.
Rustom and Mohenjodaro were duds and the audience has been clamoring (without them knowing they need it. It’s like Batman. You never really need him, but you’re happy if he’s around) for a palette cleanser to get rid of their clammy embrace. Happy Bhag Jaygei is that palette cleanser. Go watch it, laugh and have a good time. And before our senses were jaded by too much content, isn’t that what films were all about? Abhay Deol is firmly back and I’m desperately waiting for the Dev-D sequel (in SPAAACE!)
Like the say at MI6; welcome back, Mr. Deol. You’ve been missed.
[*] All the views in this review are mine. Any and all disputes will be settled by the time honoured tradition of a duel at high noon. Sword or pistol, the choice is the challengers’.