When does a film’s sense of humour pass off as funny and when does it become downright offensive? When does old-fashioned become outdated? It’s a thin line, and Hungama 2 is a perturbing example of the latter in both cases. In one scene, the “hero” threatens to rape the woman he’s allegedly had a child with. He mocks her, and says “kya pati ka adhikaar nahi hota apni patni ko chune ka?” This gruelling scene that justifies marital rape summarises everything that’s wrong with this film. It’s laced with casual misogyny, seeing its women with a curiously villainous lens. Several scenes seem as if they’re stuck in the nineties. It’s hard to digest, because while on one hand it was refreshing to see an (alleged) romance between a woman much older than the man she (supposedly) loves, the blatant sexism was painful to watch.
Touted as a comedy of errors, Hungama 2 is a film that’s difficult to give the gist of without confusing you more. Akash (Meezaan Jaffrey) is in the middle of his wedding preparations when a long lost lover, Vaani (Pranitha Subhash), arrives at his doorstep, accusing him of having a child and subsequently abandoning her. Amidst the chaos is a suspected extramarital affair, archaic family drama, insipid humour, naughty kids and a Rajpal Yadav monologue.
To be honest, around the halfway mark, I was curious to know why the film was being universally panned. Perhaps, after enduring the likes of Laxmii, Coolie No. 1 and Hello Charlie over the past year, I went into Hungama 2 with expectations so low that almost anything that was even intermittently entertaining would’ve felt not-so-bad. Priyadarshan knows the genre and, despite using his typical tropes, the film does have a few flourishes that are sprinkled in the screenplay. I bought into its slapstick humour more often than I thought I would. Even the stupidest of jokes made me smile (which may well be an example of my depleting sense of humour). The film isn’t tear-your-hair-out awful, but while that maybe good news, it’s definitely not a compliment.
However, in the second half, Hungama 2 becomes a largely unfunny mess that’s undone by its climax and deeply problematic messaging. Priyadarshan‘s story has only inconsistent spurts of fun and Yunus Sajawal’s screenplay, which begins with a light touch, becomes both outlandish and sluggish, as if trying to throw everything it can at the wall to see what sticks. Very little does. It’s a shame because – to give credit where it’s due – the film is entertaining in patches. I almost thought I was having a good time. But it’s impossible to separate the politics of the film from its art, and the movie’s jaded view of its world in general – where violence and chauvinism are accepted and even celebrated – just seems plain wrong.
The performances are serviceable. In my review of Toofaan, I’d said that it was nice to see Paresh Rawal doing something other than the banal comedy he is usually saddled with. This film is exactly what I was talking about. He’s done this so many times before that there’s barely anything new he can do with it. And while it’s lovely to see Shilpa Shetty on screen after 14 years, her role isn’t much more than an extended cameo. Meezaan Jaffrey, who has uncanny similarities with Ranbir Kapoor, has a lot of heavy-lifting to do. Both he and Pranitha Subhash have a likeable screen presence, but the shallow writing hardly explores their talents. Everyone else is a caricature or a stereotype, whether it be Ashutosh Rana’s curmudgeonly patriarch or Johnny Lever’s Bengali-spouting tuition teacher.
Hungama 2 is a disappointment that hurts more than usual because it has some genuine flashes of sparkle. Unfortunately, they’re too few and far between. I enjoyed bits of it, but the film is bogged down by an extremely worrying gaze and a climax that has all the fizz of a can of soda left out in the open.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.