Bunty Aur Babli 2 Review: Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukerji's film CONS you off a weak script with spirited ensemble
Bunty Aur Babli 2
Bunty Aur Babli 2 Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukerji, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Sharvari, Pankaj Tripathi
Bunty Aur Babli 2 Director: Varun V. Sharma
Bunty Aur Babli 2 Stars: 3/5
The immediate issue that's prevalent when making remakes, sequels and all that jazz is the constant chatter of comparisons with the original. The drawback for Bunty Aur Babli 2 is the obvious exclusion of Abhishek Bachchan, who made Bunty the loveable conman we've adored in equal weightage to Rani Mukerji's spunky Babli. How do you rectify this? Get Rani paired with another adored on-screen pairing, Saif Ali Khan, and make it more millennial with the inclusion of Siddhant Chaturvedi and newcomer, Sharvari. But did the cinematic heist succeed? Let's find out.
Taking place years after the original, we're introduced to Gen Z Bunty aur Babli (Siddhant and Sharvari), who use the legendary con-duo's (Saif and Rani) trademark name to pull off heists against the corrupt. The difference between the two duos is that the new Bunty and Babli are struggling engineers, who consider themselves as the Robin Hood of the underprivileged. Hence, their cons include getting river Ganga clean while scamming the mayor of the village out of his hard stolen wealth and taking only 10 percent as their share.
Taking over from a retired JCP Dashrath Singh (Amitabh Bachchan, in the original!) is the equally feisty Police Inspector, Jatayu Singh (Pankaj Tripathi), who gets his hands on the original Bunty aur Babli, accusing them of the crimes. However, when he soon realises that two other con artists are impersonating the OGs, he enlists Rakesh and Vimmi Trivedi to use their revered conning experience and catch Kunal and Sonia, on the act.
What follows is a cat and mouse chase between two sets of bad guys as they try to outwit the other in the most outlandish ways possible, while Jatayu is on both their trails. In comparison to how in-depth the cons in Bunty Aur Babli were, the sequel doesn't take enough time to establish Kunal and Sonia's individual scams. Hence, there isn't an emotional attachment to the new guns as we're expected to be well versed with their game already. On the other hand, too much time was catered to Rakesh and Vimmi's 'monochromatic' domestic Fursatganj life because their time to shine comes when they transform to Bunty aur Babli. Although, my practical mind can't get over how a paunch-bearing Rakesh is able to match up to Kunal's speed during a chase sequence and lose all that kilos like it was nothing.
What Bunty Aur Babli 2 royally fails at is its convenient, weak and excruciatingly safe script. In a run time of less than two hours and 30 minutes, the narrative is spread across four scams and none of them has the rebellious spark which say, the OGs had with trying to sell the Taj Mahal. P.S. The Abu Dhabi sequence was a bit of saving grace! It almost feels overstuffed with plot points but nothing really moves forward. Moreover, Bunty Aur Babli 2's anti-climatic ending was a major buzzkill because we're promised an epic encounter between the two duos till the very end and suddenly, it's over, with roll credits. However, as a plus point, what works in the script is the witty dialogues and sharp commentary on social issues. Lines like "Padh likh liya hota, toh neta thodi banti," and the hilarious explanation of how Twitter works is sharp, clever writing. If only they could capitalise that same freshness in the overall plot of an overused genre, Bunty Aur Babli 2 could have been an excellent commercial outing.
Nevertheless, what Bunty Aur Babli 2 gets right is trusting its spectacular ensemble, who play off of each others' versatility. It's the women, who truly shine through and through and almost steal the show from the funky boys. Sharvari gives us a knockout movie debut as the enigmatic Sonia, who matches toe-to-toe with the rest and shows off a sparkling screen presence. However, Rani's over the top, fiery comeback as Babli is nothing short of stunning and something we've truly missed watching on the big screen. In one particular scene, where she goes off on the other three could only have been pulled off by a performer as naturally gifted as Mukerji. A special mention to her Sabyasachi OTT attires, which I and almost everyone wouldn't wear, added scintillating oomph to Rani, almost similar to how it does with Govinda. Somehow, she pulls it off and with energetic vigour. Also, the end credits as the foursome dance to Tattoo Waliye saw Rani looking nothing short of a million bucks in all that bling!
That's not to say that Saif and Siddhanth didn't stand their own ground because they very well did. When it comes to Khan, while he does look the part of a middle-aged ex-con, his mismatched accent easily distracts. It's when we see his suave Race version in the crisp suits that Saif struts and acts on clockwork, like a true blood star. On the other hand, Siddhanth has a lot of fun with the various disguises he takes up and it seems as though, many of his sequences could have been improvised. If there is one actor, who could take over from Amitabh Bachchan and make his own memorable performance, it's Pankaj, who comes packing with the desi laughs. P.S. Watch out for the kids, especially Rakesh and Vimmi's mischievous son, Pappu Trivedi and his crush, whose dancing skills are top-notch.
Unlike the original, enough time isn't established on Siddhant and Sharvari's story in Bunty Aur Babli 2 to root for their chemistry, though, a tantalising one, except for one romantic montage music video of Love Ju, along with a trademark bikini sequence of introducing Sharvari. On the other hand, while nothing beats AB Jr. and Rani's magical chemistry, the Hum Tum pair still manage to make work out of a poor script and deliver a sweet, delectable pairing. Speaking of Bunty Aur Babli 2's soundtrack, the sequel songs don't stand a candle to the OG classics like Kajra Re and Nach Baliye and instead, takes away from the swift pacing of the movie. The magic of Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy is underused this time around while the callbacks to the original are aplenty and surprisingly, very welcome. When it comes to Gavemic U. Ary's elaborate cinematography, it's the holi chase sequence between the foursome where we really see some crisp shot tricks up his sleeves while Aarif Sheikh's shoddy editing seems misplaced at best.
At the end of the day, Bunty Aur Babli 2 is a cinematic heist that we didn't sign up for but the scene-stealing cast reels you in and are successfully able to scam you out of your hard-earned money for a one-time movie ticket and popcorn.