Judwaa 2 Review: It’s True, They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To!

Well, this was as expected mostly!  Enjoyable, fun, all of that.  And yet (having just rewatched the original), I found myself thinking “it just doesn’t feel the same”.

It’s not Varun’s fault.  I’ll get that out of the way from the beginning.  It’s really not!  He does a good job, he works hard, he is fun when he is onscreen.  But he isn’t Salman.  Because he is Varun.  And this isn’t the perfect Varun-y type of role, this is the perfect Salman-y type of role.

It seems like this should be a one-size-fits-all idea, a “good” twin and a “bad” twin, works great!  But I didn’t realize how many specific touches and tonal subtleties there are in this role that really only work with Salman and no one else.  Especially with the “bad” twin.

They must have known that, this film spends a lot more time with “good” Prem versus “bad” Raja.  Because that is a slightly easier part to play if you are not Salman Khan.  But “bad” Raja, that is almost impossible for a non-Salman.  And “good” Prem isn’t that easy either!

See, the thing is, “bad” Raja has to be this perfect combination of amoral and moral.  He steals and lies and everything else without any shame or regrets.  But he is also loyal and loving towards his friends.  It’s the perfect Salman role!  His heart is so big and his good deeds are so good, that we forget the bad.

And then there’s “Prem”.  Who has to sell that he is a “good” boy, who can still enjoy “bad” things sometimes.  Again, very difficult.  Without making the “good” boy seem hypocritical.  But with Salman, we can believe it!  He is a good shy “Prem”, but he is still a man.

With Varun though, it just doesn’t quite work as well.  If there had been no Salman, I may not have noticed that his performance wasn’t perfect.  But there was a Salman, so I noticed.  “Bad” Varun is both a little too bad (missing the pure big heart peeking through) and a little too good (cries sometimes, why?).  And “Good” Varun is a little too good.  Well, not good, straight up weak and cowardly.  In the original, we bought that it just wasn’t in his nature to fight or flirt.  But otherwise, he was a fine person. He wouldn’t actively hide from a fight, like “good” Varun does here.

Dishoom, that was a similar movie written just for Varun.  And it was perfect for him.  Sweet, kind of goofy, but also brave and loyal and so on.  It’s not that he isn’t capable of carrying this kind of film, it’s that he isn’t capable of carrying a film which was made for someone else.

The other actors have much smaller shoes to film.  And they sort of pull it off.  Jacqueline is a fine Karisma substitute.  Still not quite as good as the original, but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything from her performance.  Taapsee, like Rambha before her, just doesn’t have much to do.  Obviously, there can be no replacement for Bindu or Kadar Khan.  The one performance that really stood out as something special, not just “not quite as good as before” was Anupam Kher as Jacqueline’s father.  Really wonderful, effortlessly entertaining, had no issues going way way way too far in order to sell a joke.  And amazing chemistry with Varun!  This is one of those side benefits of the nepotism system, there’s a certain comfort and relaxation that comes across beautiful onscreen between two actors when one of them has watched the other grow up, and the other has known him his entire life.  The same thing that made Wazir worth watching, just to see Amitabh and Farhan together.

(check out the way Farhan is looking at him at the very end.  To me, that isn’t just a co-worker look, that’s a “Amit Uncle I love you” look.  And the way Amitabh smiles and goofs at 2:30, that feels like the kind of thing he’s probably been doing to make Farhan smile since Farhan was a toddler)

The other thing that isn’t quite the same is the script.  They streamlined it quite a bit, in ways I will get into in my SPOILER review.  But I kind of miss the odd bumps and bunches of the old version!  Sure it made a lot less sense, but it had a lot more charm too.

It also had a lot more heart.  There were a few decisions along the way here that were a clear case of “well, no one will believe that, so let’s cut it”.  But, I mean, we are coming to see Judwaa 2!  We clearly want to believe!  Give us what we want!

This brings us to some bigger issues in the “new” version of Hindi film.  I’ll start by beating up Varun a little some more.  In the original, Salman played a 25 year old.  Because he was a Man who took on manly roles and responsibilities.  His character was a well-known gunda with a reputation.  And his other character was a professional musician international superstar.  In this one, college student.  As are both heroines.  Bland, young, no history or anything to add any shadings to them.

(College function instead of sold out concert)

And in a similar way, we aren’t in India any more.  Now, everything is in London.  Clean, pretty, straight-forward London.  Where everyone has a job, most people are millionaires, and life is perfect.  And, bland, young (in terms of Indian community), no history or anything to add any shadings.

It’s just kind of tasteless is all.  Not in a “no class” way, but in a “no flavor” way.  It’s like trading in your street kabob for a McDonald’s meal.  Sure, there’s less chance of food poisoning and tummy upset, and it’s more cohesive and generally well put together, but on the other hand it just doesn’t have that zing to it that it used to have.

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22 thoughts on “Judwaa 2 Review: It’s True, They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To!

  1. You really should watch both Twin Dragons (the real original) and Hello Broher (Telugu), from which this film (i.e., the Salman version) was remade, and do a post on all the changes made from version to version. I saw all three films sort of accidentally, but, amazingly enough, in the correct order! So it was easy for me to see how they “Indianized” Hello Brother from Twin Dragons, but hardly changed anything (including frame by frame copies of shots) from Hello Brother to Judwaa. So there it was more about tweaking the roles a little to suit the stars (though not much) — it was all about what the performers brought to the roles. Oops, sorry, didn’t mean to write your post for you. 🙂 It would be interesting to read your thoughts.

    I decided not to see Judwaa 2 because Varun just isn’t Salman. 🙂 But also, Jacqueline is no Karisma.

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    • Jacqueline is closer to Karisma for me than Varun is to Salman. But that’s just because it is such a very tricky role(s) that Salman played. Also, and I’ll get into this more in the Spoilers review, they definitely leaned on the nostalgia factor, they wanted the audience to be thinking of Salman’s performance and so on. Which i think was a mistake. It would have been better to skip the remix songs, the constant references, and just be a good movie on its own. The benefit of the “aw, I remember that!” was outweighed by the “and now i am thinking about how much better the original was”.

      On Sat, Sep 30, 2017 at 12:43 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. “It’s like trading in your street kabob for a McDonald’s meal. Sure, there’s less chance of food poisoning and tummy upset”

    Who in India gets an upset tummy from a street kabab?

    After reading your review, and you’ve really been rallying for people to go watch more films and give them a chance, there is no way that I’m going to attempt watching this. I skipped the new chashme Baddoor in protest too since it looked like from the trailer itself, that it had killed the spirit of the original.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, everyone should skip Chasme Buddoor. You can tell from the poster alone that it lost the sense of the original. This one, if you like big silly films, here it is. Fun time at the theater. Not as good as the original, but then it is on the big screen right now, unlike the original. But not a total “boycott in protest!” insult like Chasme Buddoor was. However, I also wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to you in particular based on what I think I know of your taste.

      On Sat, Sep 30, 2017 at 2:56 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Come to think of it, my boycott in protest list is kind of long. I refuse to see anything with Hrithik, Aishwarya, and Varun Dhawan in it. It’s based purely on their inability to act. They never play characters, they play themselves even on reel.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I can give you one exception film for each; Hrithik-Agneepath, Aishwarya-Guru, Varun-Badlapur.

          But otherwise, yes, you are correct! And each of those examples still have some elements of their usual roles.

          On Sat, Sep 30, 2017 at 8:36 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I’ve seen guru. Hated myself for watching it. New Agneepath is great except for Hrithik, badlapur looked promising again except for the constipated look varun had. It may seem like I detest them without having watched their work but I totally have and I have suffered enough to have a great reason to boycott in protest.

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          • But Guru has Madhavan! He is so pretty! And perfect and loving and smart and everything good.

            I’ll let you know if I ever see a performance that totally convinces me there is something there. But yeah, even those three were just exceptions that prove the rule kind of things, not a sign of a larger ability and career path or anything. Varun and Hrithik though, I still have hope for them. If Hrithik ever switches to character roles (it could happen!), and Varun is still so young in his career, he’s got another “serious” kind of movie coming out, maybe it will be a sign of a new Varun.

            But I don’t expect you to take a risk on them again until I give you the high sign that something has actually changed. Definitely Judwaa is not that movie.

            On Sat, Sep 30, 2017 at 8:43 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • See, what turns me off about Hrithik are all the popping veins on his face and neck when he emotes. And the 6-pack popping stance. That’s because I grew up around built guys who showponied everytime girls walked by and told me what to look out for in guys faking the macho. Both Varun and Hrithik do that. They do the fake smiles and the fake bodylanguage. And they do that all the time. And it continues on screen. I don’t want to watch an actor play a part. I want a hero showing me how he feels making me believe his every emotion. Anyone who can do that has my attention. Everyone else I boycott in protest 😂

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          • One of the things that makes Agneepath my favorite Hrithik performance is that it is also the least cut he has been since Kaho na Pyar Hai. He got a slipped disc during filming so he couldn’t work out. Not trying to sell you on the film, just agreeing with you. Maybe feeling like his body wasn’t perfect actually helped his acting a little.

            On Sat, Sep 30, 2017 at 8:55 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • i’m not sure if you mean Varun or Hrithik, and then I realized that this comment applies equally to both.

            On Sat, Sep 30, 2017 at 9:00 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. Pingback: Judwaa 2 Review (SPOILERS): Salman Steals the Film | dontcallitbollywood

  4. It would do Varun and Hrithik a world of good if they didn’t say yes to their respective Dads a little more often.I know that they’re being good sons and are helping their Dads out in their lean phase.But they’re losing plum roles to their peers in the meantime.The sheer amount of time Hrithik wasted on those average Krish movies and Kites! His face and form are a blessing and a curse at the same time.Varun’s career is still salvageable if he’d just learn from Hrithik’s example.He was electric in Badlapur.It says a lot about Varun that he wasn’t cast into the shadow by Nawaz’s powerhouse performance.

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    • And then there’s Shahid! Whose career will probably never recover from the choice to work with his father after Jab We Met instead of taking other offers.

      On Sun, Oct 1, 2017 at 12:09 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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