Saturday, May 5, 2012

Jannat 2 is a fairly predictable fare

A few days before the release of Jannat 2, one of my more cinema-aware friend pointed out that Mahesh Bhatt 'camp' has a fixed formula plot for most of the movies that are doled out from it. The formula is subject to minor variations, mainly pertaining to a slapdash take on a distinct social evil, occurring or even a piece of news. This plot is then laced with a distinctively attractive packaging each time, placing good music, good marketing and good amount of sleaze in the cauldron before its turned on. He knows his audience, the ones that will flock in for some song and dance, some thrill and some sex. The buzz in the grapevine was that Blood Money, released barely a month ago from the Bhatt camp, was originally supposed to be Jannat 2, until the latter came in and was factory produced in no time. Those who saw Blood Money thought it was a rehash of Jannat, just in a different setting. So much of dubious behavior from the production house did not deter my expectations out of Jannat 2, prophetically pinning my hopes on Emraan Hashmi, only to end up feeling like a chump.

Sequels are a cumbersome ballgame. Jannat was an unexpected runaway hit at the Box Office and even the critics found it strikingly passable. How do you know what worked in it and how do you retain it in the sequel? Moronically enough, I find it tough to be dismissive of a crime thriller/lovestory, especially because of the compelling argument that the same house churned out an incisive Murder 2 last year and many such products recently. But Jannat 2 has nothing to offer besides clich├ęd characters and a scrubby collection of outdated shootouts, chases and plot twists that we've seen a dozen times before in better movies. Essentially, Jannat 2 is another rehash of Jannat or Blood Money, though we may emphatically expect it to be much more. Director Kunal Deshmukh takes up the issue of illegal arms dealing in Delhi as the backdrop which could have been a remarkably interesting premise if the story did not succumb to the ploys of a typical cop-informer saga where the hero is ready to be bad once, just to be have a 'peaceful' life thereafter. The biggest problem with Jannat 2 is that it does not dare to be different and makes you cringe to a heavy doze of contrivances and lazy conveniences. The premise may grab your attention but the fizz is petered into predictability as you run through the odd 130 minutes. Having said that, I must admit that if I had not seen Jannat or Blood Money, I would not have that many problems with the schlocky scripting in this one because its not a weak screenplay, overlooking the fact that Bhatt movies never really care about the issue they pick up, which in this case were the illegal arms. The equation between the cop and the informer, although easily conjured in the twists and turns of the plot, is mildly engaging due its love-hate nature. Many sequences have been deftly handled by the director, ably aided by his male lead, though they could have definitely done with less verbosity and more inspired character development. While most sequences involving Manish Chaudhari are stunning, most of the others involving Esha Gupta are overweeningly annoying. Indian cinema has undergone a serious reformation raising the bar of expectations. But even predictable screenplays can be pivoted with able direction. In such an age, director Deshmukh comes out as callower than he did 4 years ago. Jannat 2 may have its quirky moments that make you laugh or tizzy moments that make you wonder but they are all deployed in a shaky framework.

The Bhatt camp has elevated the sequels of their movies to a more substantial packaging to keep up with the times. Jannat 2 is Emraan's widest release till date, and the Bhatts have got their best ensemble to work on it. Pritam's music is akin to most other albums of the camp, yet it strikes a chord nosediving its way into the hearts of the masses. The songs are pushed into the screenplay pretty much as a ridiculous excuse to show Esha Gupta, and they alone shoulder the responsibility of taking the love story forward. Production Design is okay but editing could do with more scissor work. Dialogues definitely needed a serious reworking to remove the bickering voice-overs and ludicrous verbosity.

Manish Chaudhari steals the show in the limited number of scenes he gets as the villain. The guy, gunning with immense talent is suffocated and bogged down by a badly developed character of a Jatt illegal arms honcho. He gets into the character with a stunning ease but the peripheral scope leaves him at sea. Emraan Hashmi teeters with the Delhi accent, lingo and mojo but manages to scape through due to his convincing looks for all characters written in Bhatt movies. Randeep Hooda tries really hard to infuse some life in the character of the cop that he plays but barely manages to have incredulous escape in a few scenes. In most other scenes, he is as ingloriously awful as Esha Gupta, who is just a run down Lara Dutta. Brijendra Kala is first-rate as usual. Arif Zakaria is unintentionally hilarious. Also, the guy who plays Balli is completely suitable for the part.

Jannat 2 is directed towards the masses completely, to harp on the grown popularity of Hashmi in the recent times, imperviously avoiding any negative reaction by the critics. The film has taken a thoroughly smashing opening due to a wide release across single screens and multiplex. As previously said, Bhatt knows his audience and thats why even shameful products like Blood Money made money. On the contrary, this one has been greeted with a rapturous response. It may be irrelevant to point out the lack of dexterity or originality in Jannat 2 at this juncture. I can only confess something here. I did not get bored watching it, not even once.

Rating - 2/5

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