By the look of it, Mudassar Aziz seems to have hit upon a franchise idea. As Happy#2 in the sequel to Happy Bhag Jayegi, a sleeper hit of 2016, says, “In every third house of Punjab, there is a girl called Harpreet Kaur, aka Happy.” Happy#1 ran away from an unwanted wedding and landed in Pakistan; Happy#2 finds herself in China in pursuit of a runaway groom. There are 192 countries to go!
Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi has all the charms, as well as all the flaws of the original. This one has to work harder to get an excuse to take the whole caboodle to Shanghai! The original Happy (Diana Penty) visits China, accompanied by her husband Guddu (Ali Fazal), and is mistaken for another Happy (Sonakshi Sinha), a botany professor. In the real world the misunderstanding would not even have arisen — surely the university that invited her to teach would have her photograph; and if she wanted to teach in China, surely she would have learnt Mandarin.
Meanwhile, the Happy#2 is kidnapped by Chinese thugs, led by Chang (Jason Tham), who pick her up thinking she is the Happy#1. In a very silly plot device, they need her to persuade a Pakistani politician (whom she met in the first film) to go ahead with a deal; sillier still, they also kidnap Happy#1’s rejected groom, Daman Singh Bagga on the day of his wedding, and the Pakistani cop also returning from the earlier film, Usman Afridi (Piyush Mishra) on his retirement day, to convince Happy#1 to do the job.
While Happy#1 enjoys her trip to Shanghai, and the university none the wiser about the switch, Happy#2 escapes from the gangsters, and instead of calling the university, embassy or cops, she wanders around till she runs into lonely embassy employee Khushwant (Jassi Gill — endearing), who is guilt-tripped into helping a fellow Punjabi.
Along with the squabbling Bagga and Afridi, they leave a trail of mayhem from Shanghai to Guangzhou and back. Never mind the implausible plot, and the mild racism (“all Chinese look alike”), the banter between these two gets the most laughs. Aziz also creates some really comic characters like the Pakistani-Chinese Adnan Chow (Denzil Smith — hilarious), trying to get the locals to appreciate Urdu poetry and biryani, and a fake Chinese called Fa Qu. Jason Tham is a riot as the inept Hindi-speaking goon. Sonakshi Sinha does her best, but is upstaged by the others, who have better roles and funnier scenes.
Like its predecessor, this one too goes on much after the gags have dried up and waits for the entire cast to congregate at one spot. A comedy should never let the audience get impatient for the film to end.