First the good news: Anees Bazmee’s Mubarakan is not offensive. No double-meaning jokes or toilet humour. The bad news is that for a comedy of romantic mix-ups, it’s a bit heavy-handed. You can see the gags coming from a mile away, and the only two actors who have comic timing — or are allowed to display it amidst all that noise — are Anil Kapoor and his white sidekick.
Set mostly in London (lots of top shots to prove it’s not Film City) amidst a family of noisy Sardars (are there any other kind in Bollywood films?), it’s about orphaned twins Charan and Karan (a two-expression Arjun Kapoor) — one brought up by his aunt (Ratna Pathak Shah) in London and other by his uncle in Punjab (Pavan Malhotra). Their other uncle Kartar Singh (Anil Kapoor), is a rich bachelor and their go-to guy to solve their romantic problems.
Karan is in love with Sweety (Ileana D’Cruz), but when his wedding is fixed by his family to a business associate, he does not know how to wriggle out. So he sends Charan instead to meet the girl, Binkle (Athiya Shetty), and her folks in London. But Charan is in love with a Muslim girl, Nafisa (Neha Sharma), and does not have the courage to tell his family.
They both tell Kartar and he promises that he will not let the Charan-Binkle match go through. In the process, his siblings and the twins’ foster parents fight and break off relations. To complicate things, Charan’s match is fixed with Sweety, but he has now decided he loves Binkle and wants to marry her.
All the characters shift to London at Christmas time for the weddings, and run riot there. Kartar has a large farm that he calls Mini Punjab, and that aforementioned lungi-wearing, Punjabi speaking, white valet. Of course, this is reverse racism, but Bollywood does not see the irony. (Kartar’s car bumper reads: Buri nazar wale tera munh gora).
The film has its funny moments, but Bazmee needed to cut the slack, trim the needless melodrama and make it crisp. The best lines are in the promo, everyone knows how it will end, so why stretch it till it snaps, more so because the older actors chew up the scenery and the young actors can all but stand around mouths agape. Athiya Shetty gets nothing to do except make cow eyes at Charan.
If Mubarakan achieves something, it is to give NRIs a blingy wedding wardrobe for men and women to copy. And one Hawa Hawa number to dance to.