I saw Happy Bhaag Jayegi, on a weeknight, at 8pm. So I am a little pie-eyed and sleep-deprived, and yet I will still attempt to write a quick spoiler free review!
It was mostly just a nice little movie. Not very ambitious, no big message or story, no real conflict either. Just mostly nice people doing mostly nice things in mostly nice countries.
Even the romance was mostly nice and conflict free. It was just people politely and calmly talking about their feelings. Well, mostly. Jimmy Shergill was there too, being a bit crazy. Have I mentioned that I love Jimmy Shergill? I really do. Not, like, attracted to him. Just have a deep feeling of “aw, Jimmy Shergill!” when I see him. Like meeting some kid you went to kindergarten with, a combination of nostalgia for my past and pleasant associations with him in the past.
(Also, “aw, Jugal Hansraj”. But not “aw, Uday Chopra”. He aged funny)
Speaking of, also Abhay Deol! Again, “aw, Abhay Deol!” Socha Na Tha was a pivotal part of my college life, as was Mohabbatein, so those two guys kind of have a lifetime pass for me. And then there was Diana Penty. I have no deep feelings, good or bad, about Diana Penty. Except that “Tum Hi Ho Bandhu” is crazy catchy and I should really get around to watching Cocktail someday. I also have no deep feelings about Ali Fazal, except that Furious 7 was AWESOME and he should feel honored to have been a part of it.
I didn’t used to have strong feelings about Momal Sheikh, but she was GREAT in this! So now I really like her. Also, her father is Javed Sheikh! Father of everybody in everything! Including “Om Kapoor” in Om Shanti Om!
So, strong cast, great central concept (a runaway bride from Delhi jumps in the wrong truck and ends up being delivered to a young politician in Lahore), why is this not a better movie? After thinking about this a lot (well, for 45 minutes while driving home), I have decided that there is no real reason it isn’t a better movie. It just isn’t. And it was never going to be.
That’s the key. A nice, quiet, not very clever or well-written or complex film can still be enjoyable, so long as you don’t feel as though it could be more than that. So long as this is all it was ever going to be and it is the best little movie it can manage, than I’m fine with it. It’s those frustrating “but you could have been so much better! You came so close!” movies that really bother me.
So, this is a nice little movie. A nice pleasant little movie with basically no song sequences, no romance, and not even really any plot if you look too closely. But there are some nice little jokes about Urdu versus Hindi versus English. And Lahore versus Delhi. And mixing up Katrina Kaif and Kareena Kapoor (full disclosure: my father does this as well). And Abhay Deol and Jimmy Shergill got to be on my movie screen for a bit.
Oh right, how did they do? If you aren’t grading on the “aw, Jimmy Shergill!” curve, that is. Well, they did pretty good! Abhay and Jimmy are still very charming and comfortable onscreen. Jimmy is, frankly, a kick. I am loving his reinvention as a character actor. Ten years from now, he is going to be so good playing the father of the bride, I won’t want to look at the groom.
Diana Penty was also surprisingly good! Since this movie was lighter and emptier than a meraingue, she didn’t really have any deep emotional moments to play or a character arch or anything like that. But she did have to be immediately bright and shining and special and memorable, and she certainly did that! Right from her first screen, she was just someone you wanted to watch, someone you liked. Not as easy to pull off as it looks! Bright, spunky, charming, and all without being precious.
Ali Fazal, eh. His face looks like everyone else’s. Momal Sheikh, awesome! Her face does NOT look like anyone else’s! And her character was clearly her own as well. Really, it almost feels like the filmmakers kind of fell in love with her a little along the way too, because Diana Penty starts out as the heroine, and then somewhere along the way, Monal ends up taking on more and more of the focus.
(Momal Sheikh is the one in this song who isn’t Diana Penty)
What little focus there was went to her, that is. This movie went so fast! There were a few little set pieces and conversations (including a really hilarious bit in a children’s nursery school), but a lot of it was just a few sentences, and then suddenly we are leaping forward 5 days to a whole new situation. Diana Penty and Abhay, according to the poster, the two stars of the film, barely have two scenes together straight through! It’s just a line here and there, and then they are separated again.
So, don’t watch this if you are looking for deep thoughts or a strong plot. Or brilliant performances, and great dialogue. Or catchy memorable songs. Or really, songs at all. But if you want a nice light movie that makes you temporarily happy, this is the one!