Happy Bhag Jayegi – just a nice enjoyable comedy movie

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When I saw the trailer for Happy Bhag Jayegi [Happy Will Run], I was so excited.  It looked funny, and most importantly had Jimmy Shergill as the heavy, and Abhay Deol looking bemused.  The reviews have not been stellar, but I’m here to tell you it’s a fun little over two hour romantic farce.  And who doesn’t want to spend two hours with Abhay and Jimmy?

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I really admire what Jimmy Shergill is doing with his career.  He’s taking the supporting villainish (but not too villainish) character roles now in this and in movies like Tanu Weds Manu 2, as well as supporting roles in action films.  Because he’s Jimmy Shergill, he’s the bad guy here, but he’s still so charming you almost feel sorry for him that his bride ran away.

Happy (Diana Penty) is a spitfire.  Her father has arranged her marriage to politician Jimmy Shergill, also the head of the local goon gang.  While Jimmy dances (badly!) at their engagement, Happy jumps out the bathroom window into a waiting truck.  Trouble is, it wasn’t the truck her boyfriend had arranged.

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She pops out of a box in the home of Abhay — son of the ex-Governor in Lahore, Pakistan.  Abhay’s father is played by the always great Pakistani actor Javed Sheikh.  Bollywood audiences know him  as SRK’s father in Om Shanti Om, but I loved him as Fawad Khan’s father in the Pakistani soap Zindagi Gulzar Hai.

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Abhay just wants to play cricket, but his father has great political aspirations for him.  They’d been in Amritsar on a diplomatic mission, and the truck is full of diplomatic gifts!

Happy is stuck in Lahore, without the fiance she really wants to marry, and poses a problem because she has no passport or visa?  And Abhay is of course engaged as well, so how to explain a strange girl in his house?

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The whole thing is a lighter than air farce.  Even when Happy gets kidnapped at one point, you know she’s really in no danger, as the goons are scared of our feisty heroine.  Happy’s intended Guddu (Ali Fazal) is a rather feckless musician.  It’s no wonder her father had doubts about him!  Abhay has to figure out a way to get Guddu into Lahore, get them married and then deport them!  All while keeping Jimmy Shergill at bay.

What I liked about this movie is that the Pakistanis are all nice people.  They are not the bad guys at all!  I can’t for the life of me understand how this movie could be banned in Pakistan, because it’s so positive about Pakistan!  The misunderstandings between the two countries are presented in a humorous way, and barriers between people broken down.  The director wrote an open letter to Pakistan, and the official who banned it, because he doesn’t get it either!

The women in the movie are strong, both Happy and Abhay’s fiance Zoya (Momal Sheikh).  They make the men in their lives rise to the occasion.

It was a very pleasant way to spend a little over two hours, and I laughed out loud at quite a few points.  Abhay, it’s great to have you back.  I’ve missed you.

Looking up Ali Fazal, I don’t remember him at all from 3 Idiots, but he’s set to play Abdul in Stephen Frears’ Victoria and Adbul opposite Judi Dench!  I wasn’t super impressed with you in this trifle, but go you!

Three and a half out of five stars.

Margaret of Don’t Call It Bollywood and I saw it together.  Read her spoiler free review here.

Socha Na Tha – An Absolutely Delightful Romance – I wish Imtiaz Ali Would Make Another Romance Like This His First

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Dharmendra chose well for his nephew Abhay Deol’s debut film, Socha Na Tha [I Never Imagined].  He picked the talented director Imtiaz Ali who gave the falling-in-love-with-the girl-your-parents-picked-for-you Indian romance a fresh modern feel.  This was Imtiaz Ali’s first film,  after directing in television.  Socha Na Tha was not a commercial success, but it gained critical praise at the time, and he followed it with Jab We Met, one of the all time favorite Hindi romance films.

Abhay plays Viren, a young man who has returned to India from University in the US, but has not started work yet.  His family despairs of him growing up, and his father puts his foot down.  He’s 24, and it’s time he was married.  He agrees to meet a girl his family chooses, but he has a secret romance with a Christian girl, Karen.  He’s on the verge of proposing to Karen.

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Viren and Aditi (Ayesha Takia) first meet at her family home.  Ayesha is absolutely adorable.  She explains to him that she doesn’t want to get married either, but he has to be the one to refuse her, as she can’t.  Once they get that out of the way, they have a wonderful easy conversation.  From the little we’ve seen of Viren’s interactions with Karen, he has a rapport with Aditi immediately and an ease that he doesn’t with his years long girlfriend Karen.

When Viren refuses Aditi as a potential bride, the families grow hostile to one another, as Aditi’s family feels Viren led her on.  They meet by chance in a mall, and he explains asks for her help in convincing his girlfriend’s parents to let her go on a holiday trip to Goa.  Aditi tells her parents that Karen is attending her wedding, and Karen tells hers the opposite.  But Karen joins the party a few days late.  Viren and Aditi spend lots of time together and grow closer and friendlier.  When Karen arrives, she senses what’s happening.  Aditi and Viren spend one whole night talking and fall asleep together on the beach.

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Once they return, Viren does propose to Karen but his family is opposed to him marrying a Christian.  He’s convinced it will never be resolved and meanwhile is obsessing over video he took of Aditi in Goa.  He goes to see Aditi, and almost Romeo like sneaks up her balcony into her room.  What comes next is one of the most romantic scenes I’ve ever seen in Hindi film.  It’s not that Abhay is such a great actor at this early point in his career.  It’s all Imtiaz Ali’s skill in directing this scene.  It’s become one of my all time favorites.

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Viren says to Aditi, “I thought I was in love with Karen.  But if that was love—what is this?”

 

Things become a tangled mess for Abhay, as his parents suddenly agree to his marriage with Karen and now he’s stuck.

The last part of the film is hard to watch because Viren is so indecisive and takes a long time to tell people what he wants to do with his life.  He doesn’t want to disappoint his family, and can’t figure a way out.  He needs to grow up, and so does Aditi.

Margaret at Don’t Call It Bollywood gives a great analysis of Socha Na Tha and how it reaffirms arranged marriage.  Because in the end, this film is showing that the best partner is the one your family chose for you.  That they know you best.  It was her post that led me to buying this film and watching it.  I’m so glad I did.  I loved it and how natural and modern Imtiaz Ali made this story feel.  Abhay Deol was fantastic in this even if I wanted to wring his neck at several points.  Ayesha Takia was wonderful, and I liked how Karen (Apoorva Jha) wasn’t a stereotypical evil ex.  She is actually instrumental in getting Viren and Aditi back together.  Even the stern father, we see really loves Viren, and has good reason for wanting his son to grow up already.  (Since I have a son about the same age who is finding himself, I can relate, much more than I want to.)

Four and a half stars out of five.  Imtiaz, please give us more great romances like Socha Na Tha and Jab We Met with these great real characters!