Movies

‘Welcome Back:’ Welcome indeed

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MUMBAI: Sequels enjoy a certain amount of brand equity. Welcome Back may have come eight years after it’s the first version, Welcome (2007), but the TV and video circuit nowadays helps the brand stay alive, especially in this case, since most of the main actors are same as in the original.

Welcome Back has one more similarity with the original, which is that film retains the same story line as the original to the T, well almost.

Anil Kapoor and Nana Patekar are ex-dons who have given up the world of crime to live a normal life and are running a plush property in the UAE. As Nana never fails to mention, ‘Bhagwan ka diya hua sabkuchh hai,’ a dialogue he keeps repeating ad nauseam. They face many provocations but make all the effort to control their anger and trigger happy nature. Of course, it takes great restraint on Nana’s side as every time he is provoked, his blood pressure shoots up to an extent that the pressure gauge breaks its barrier!

One fine day, Nana’s father (Nana again in a brief dual role), married thrice already, arrives out of the blue and hands over his daughter, Shruti Hassan, from his third wife, to Nana so that he can live his last days in peace. Actually, he wants to be free to check the prospects of his fourth marriage! Nana and Anil are emotionally blackmailed into looking after her and are on the look out for a good suitor to marry her off.

Nana and Anil may have changed tracks but their reputation still follows them and when they approach Paresh Rawal and his wife, Supriya Karnik, the only decent family they know, with the proposal of Shruti for their son, John Abraham, he has no alternative but to say yes, albeit reluctantly out of fear of these ex-dons.

Paresh never knew he had a son because John is Supriya’s son from her first marriage which, again, Paresh did not know about. However, being childless, he agrees to take his wife’s son as his own. However, he needs to meet ‘his’ son first and the couple embark on a trip to India only to discover that John is a local dada and everybody including the cops keep out of his way. Paresh is worked up at first but delighted at the same time that he finally has an answer to Nana and Anil’s muscle power.

Not knowing Shruti is the one he is supposed to marry once in Dubai, John and Shruti have already fallen in love with each other in Mumbai. Nana and Anil are glad to find out that John is the son of Paresh. That is till John cuts these two ex-dons to size by thrashing all their goons. Humiliated, Nana and Anil decide to make sure John never gets Shruti. That is their revenge!

Soon, another angle opens up. There is a super don above all of them in Naseeruddin Shah, who is called Wanted bhai. It so happens that his drug addict son, Shiney Ahuja, has fallen for Shruti too and keeps painting her portraits all the time. Shah is too powerful for Nana and Anil. But, they are happy that they are getting their revenge from John. While they make sure John is kept away from Shruti, John and Paresh along with Shruti, make their own plans to outwit them as well as Shah and Shiney.

The process leads to a huge quagmire between three sides but is peppered with funny moments and witty dialogue. In fact, there is a sequence where Nana and Anil end up playing antakshari with imaginary ghosts in a cemetery! The climax is off the routine too and visually good. As in the original the hero saves the villains from death leading to the end of all feuds.

Welcome Back has two plus points working for it: the casting of male characters and the dialogues; female casting, though, leaves much to be desired. But, then, when you have so many men to be paid, the producers need to cut costs somewhere. The male cast is all known for talent and a flair for comedy. John can be counted out since his role needs muscle flexing, which he does as and when needed. Music is a liability despite having five composers on the credit lists but the makers have tried to make it tolerable with choreography, which includes huge crowds and costly sets. Photography is decent. Some scenes have been stretched and could have done with sharper editing.

As for performances, Anil, Nana, John, Shah, Paresh are in their element. Shiney is okay. Dimple is cast against her image but passes muster. Shruti is fair while Ankita Shrivastav is miscast and a no go. In fact, Surveen Chawala, who does an item song, has better presence.

Welcome Back is an entertainer, which does not disappoint and with the decent opening response that it has received, it should be an entertainer for its makers too.

Producers: Firoze Nadiadwala

Director: Anees Bazmi

Cast: John Abraham, Shruti Haasan, Anil Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Paresh Rawal, Nana Patekar, Dimple Kapadia,Shiney Ahuja, Ankita Srivastav, Supriya Karnik

‘Lakhon Hain Yahan Dilwale:’ Old-fashioned fun

Lakhon Hain Yahan Dilwale comes from a first time filmmaker, who decided to wield the megaphone after bouncing the idea around on other directors, convincing none. The idea was to make a musical love story but with melody makers at premium in the modern film music industry, the maker, Munnawar Bhagat, takes recourse to melodious hits from days of Shankar Jaikishan, Madan Mohan, Laxmikant Pyarelal and other such wizards and weaves a story around these songs.

Vije Bhatia has landed in Mumbai to make a profession out of his hobby of singing. Mumbai is still in its 1960 era of Raj Kapoor films or so it seems. Vije is given shelter, love and care by people while he strives for his talent to be noticed. To this end, he turns a busker. He starts singing and strumming his guitar at street corners. Inevitably, a crowd gathers and dances and claps to his renditions wherever he sings. Once he starts a song, which is actually a duet and gets stuck when the female part is to be sung. The crowds jeer him as if they had paid for his performance! But, one of his fans who comes to listen to his songs every day, Krutika Gaekwad, fills the void by singing the female version.

No filmmakers pass by Bhatia’s spot to discover him but a small time event manager, Arun Bakshi, does notice him. He was supposed to arrange some Anupji at Mrs Narang’s (Anju Mahendroo) party that evening but Anupji takes ill or maybe his flight never landed. He is convinced these two street singers can fill the gap. Reluctant at first, Anju is convinced to give them a chance. She has a makeover artist handy who turns the shabbily dressed singers into pop stars. Vije and Krutika enthral the guests and the host with melodious numbers from films of yore.

The pair is hit and at the same party they are signed on for a few more parties. The inevitable happens. Both are attracted to each other. However, Krutika has a past that won’t allow her this romance. She has a husband, Aditya Panscholi, a mother-in-law, Kishori Shahane, and a daughter. Her husband is usually in jail and calls himself a local ‘dada’. Now out of jail, he sees new prosperity in his house and instantly takes to beating Krutika. She is banned from not only singing but even stepping out of the house. He is brutal, to say the least.

While the first half is like a special episode of Chhayageet (once an immensely popular Doordarshan programme), the second half takes a detour to tell a story. The film takes a mushy turn for a while as melodies take a backseat till the climax.

The film’s story is rather old-fashioned and what makes its only USP as a stream of old melodies. The script is contrived and the direction is amateurish. Cinematography is good. Dialogue is routine. Production values and props are patchy.

Good performances come from Krutika and Kishori Shahane. Aditya is too loud. Arun and Anju are okay.

Lakhon Hain Yahan Dilwale is fun to watch thanks to its old songs, that is if people bother going to the cinema to check it out.

Producer: Munnawar Bhagat

Director: Munnawar Bhagat

Cast: Aditya Pancholi, Vije Bhatia, Krutika Gaekwad, Kishori Shahane, Arun Bakshi, Anju Mahendroo

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