'Happy Bhag Jayegi': A Cross-Border Laugh Riot

24/08/2016 9:43 PM IST | Updated 25/08/2016 2:34 PM IST

Directed by Mudassar Aziz, Happy Bhag Jayegi revolves around an Indian runaway bride named Happy who accidentally ends up in Pakistan, with people on both sides of the border chasing after her. The film marks the comeback of two Bollywood actors: Diana Penty, who had gone off the radar after Homi Adajania's Cocktail (2012), and Abhay Deol, whose career has been a mixed-bag affair of late. It also stars Jimmy Sheirgill, Piyush Mishra, Ali Fazal and Pakistani actress Momal Sheikh.

Happy Bhag Jayegi is the kind of cinema that Hindi film audiences adore. It is a formula that just cannot fail in a diverse and colourful country like India. Fact is, we Indians love to celebrate. The dozen or two religious festivals are just not enough, and weddings serve to fill the gap with their own grand festivities. For us, marriage is just not a union of two individuals but it's an alliance of two families. It's an occasion that gets everyone excited -- be it the children, the youth, or the old -- for it is perceived as the greatest celebration of life. In short, the marriages are a singularly viable business. For Bollywood, it's a bankable subject like no other. Some of the biggest commercial hits in the history of Hindi cinema revolved around the theme of weddings. Films such as Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! (1994) and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) exploited the Indian sentimentality for traditions and rituals associated with marriage particularly well. And the trend continues with more recent films such as Band Baaja Baaraat (2010), Tanu Weds Manu (2011) and Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015). But while the subject pretty much remains the same, the treatment of it often varies, and Happy Bhag Jayegi sets itself apart from the crowd.

The film gives us a glimpse of Pakistani upper class society and presents the city of Lahore in all its charm.

The film gives us a glimpse of Pakistani upper class society and presents the city of Lahore in all its charm. The performances all around are solid. While Diana Penty is a sight to behold as Happy, she is brilliantly complemented by Abhay Deol who looks as charming as ever. Jimmy Sheirgill, although he is typecast, delivers yet another memorable performance. The movie's real surprise package is Ali Fazal who exudes unbridled innocence in his portrayal of a foolhardy romantic. Pakistani actress Momal Sheikh provides a breath of fresh air. The supporting cast is well led by Piyush Mishra and Kanwaljit Singh.

Overall, Happy Bhag Jayegi is a non-stop entertainer and an absolute laugh riot from start to finish, but in order to fully enjoy the film you do need to engage in some pretty heavy duty suspension of disbelief to ignore the implausibility of the plot. Once you make this compromise, Happy Bhag Jayegi will prove to be a rollercoaster of a ride. Here is a family entertainer that just cannot be missed!

Rating: A –

A version of this review was first published in A Potpourri of Vestiges.

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