Director: Ahmed Khan
Writers: Jagdish Sharma, Rajat Arora
Cast: Tiger Shroff, Tara Sutaria, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Cinematographer: Kabir Lal
Editors: Venkat Jalagam, Kamlesh Parui
There are so many levels of ridiculous in Heropanti 2 that it's hard to know where to begin. We could start, as the film does, with Laila, some sort of magician turned global criminal whose grand plan is to hack into the bank account of every Indian on March 31st as tax returns are being filed. Laila, described as the cyber crime ka king, wears spectacular feathered outfits with jewellery. He's also fond of make-up, including nail polish and rouge. Laila's sexuality is never discussed but he has an effeminate manner and in a party scene, it is suggested that he has kissed Babloo, the incredibly ripped, invincible superhero played by Tiger Shroff.
Eight years ago, Nawazuddin Siddiqui had played Shiv, another global criminal in Kick, which like Heropanti 2 was also produced by Sajid Nadiadwala and written by Rajat Arora. With an unhinged manner and maniacal laugh, Nawaz was easily the best thing in that film. One of my favourite Shiv lines was: paida toh main bhi sharif hua tha par sharafat se apni kabhi nahi bani. Laila feels like a bargain basement Shiv. Nawaz goes full throttle into constructing some sort of evil eccentric but little about Laila is memorable. Except perhaps some of his fitted, sparkling suits.
This dullness runs in the family. Laila's sister is Inaya, played by Tara Sutaria. She is described as a self-made gaming billionaire but her only role through the film is to chase Babloo. Inaya is spoilt, shrieky and simpering. It's like if Poo from Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham lost her sass. Inaya also seems to have taken a page from the heroines of Mohabbatein in that she is never dressed appropriately. Even though men with guns are hot on her and Babloo's heels, she insists on taking her red Hermes bag everywhere she goes. Inaya is that sort of annoying, arm candy heroine that I thought Bollywood had put to rest, but clearly I was wrong.
However, this lack of intelligence or depth isn't personal – Heropanti is determinedly low IQ and all the characters exhibit varying degrees of stupidity. I wonder if there was an actual script or if director Ahmed Khan simply decided what the action and song sequences would be and then had Rajat write material that would somehow connect the dots. The story is credited to Sajid but truthfully, there isn't one.
The plan perhaps was to dazzle us with the sheer physical prowess of Tiger who does what only he can do – leap, jump, pirouette with effortless grace. The camera – the cinematography is by Kabir Lal – loves his body. The screenplay includes a sequence in which Babloo gets shot in the rear so there is ample discussion about it. There is also an unintentionally comic moment in which several attackers come at Babloo with spears. None pierce his body but they somehow take off his clothing so that he must fight bare-chested. The maximum creativity in this film seems to have been expended on how to get Tiger to show his muscles. If you pay attention to the many side villains, you might be able to have some fun– in one scene set in Laila's palatial den, one baddie is having his face stroked with feathers by a blonde. It made me laugh.
Heropanti 2 is the spiritual successor of Heropanti, the 2014 film, which launched Tiger and Kriti Sanon. The plot of this film has nothing to do with that one. What's been carried forward is the name of Tiger's character, a few signature dialogues, including: Kya karun yaar, sabko aati nahi, meri jaati nahi and music. Kriti gamely shows up to do a retread of 'Whistle Baja'.
In my review of the first film, I had said that Tiger was absolutely a star but that the film was 'comically bad'. Heropanti 2 has redefined the phrase for me. The first, directed by Sabbir Khan, had a storyline and even a moment when Babloo stops baddies from raping and instructs them on consent. He says, no means no. I now look back fondly on it.
Heropanti 2 is actively terrible as though Ahmed wanted to set a new standard for Bollywood.
I wouldn't advise it but you can see Heropanti 2 at a theatre near you.