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September 4, 2015

Welcome Back: Movie review

Film: Welcome Back

Cast: John Abraham, Nana Patekar, Anil Kapoor, Shruti Haasan, Paresh Rawal, Ankita Shrivastava, Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia, Shiney Ahuja

Director: Anees Bazmee

Rating: 2.5/5

Ajju Bhai (John Abraham) is introduced on the screen before  he goes about doing what's been entrusted to him: to fill in for Akshay Kumar in the sequel of director Anees Bazmee's 2007 film Welcome. Has he hit the jackpot? Let’s find out.

It’s been seven years since Rajiv married Sanjana in Welcome. We are told that Uday Shetty (Nana Patekar) and Majnu Bhai (Anil Kapoor) have left the underworld for good and have shifted to Dubai. These two ‘businessmen’ are on the radar of two con-women Babita and Poonam (Dimple Kapadia and Ankita ‘two-piece’ Shrivastava) who are disguised as the queen and princess of Nazafgarh.

Welcome Back is the sequel of 2007 film Welcome.

Meanwhile Dr Ghungroo (Paresh Rawal) finds out that his wife has a son out of their wedlock. Ghungroo never bothered to ask his wife about it and denied the wife every chance to explain her 'sin'. But, now he's seething with rage because, he says: “Jab maine chunaav me vote daala hi nahi toh mukhyamantri mera kaise ho gaya?”

This son is actually a Mumbai gangster Ajju Bhai who accidently does ‘lipping’ with Ranjana (Shruti Haasan) and then falls in love with her. Before you ask, ‘lipping’ means lip-lock. Ranjana is a college student who suddenly finds out that Uday Shetty is her brother. How do we know about it? Bazmee creates a new character, Uday Shetty’s father (Nana Patekar, who else!), who has been married thrice and has a daughter.

Ranjana uses the gap between two papers to travel to Dubai to meet Shetty and his gang. Not that she was doing something worthwhile otherwise, provided you don’t count ‘lipping’ and dancing seductively on the streets among tasks to be carried out between two examination dates.

Surveen Chawla has a special appearance in Welcome Back.

Anyway, let’s cut the long story short. Shetty Bhai doesn’t like Ajju and the two are at loggerheads now. A semi-blind don Wanted Bhai (Naseeruddin Shah) enters the game at this juncture and everything turns into a mess. But, some questions are still unanswered. Will Ajju win over Shetty? Will he find a way to marry Sanjana? What’s Wanted Bhai’s game plan? What’ll happen to Wanted Bhai’s son Honey (Shiney Ahuja, yes, you read the name right)?

Dear fans of Welcome, before you start missing Akshay Kumar’s innocent act, we tell you that it's sequel, Welcome Back, is much more ambitious and the director has concentrated more on the grandeur of the sets than the chemistry between the actors. The trailers promised a larger canvas, but Bazmee hasn’t been successful in getting it just there. Really bad CGI and meaningless wide-angle shots have harmed his cause even more.

Not that Welcome Back lacks in resources. After all you have actors like Paresh Rawal, Nana Patekar and Anil Kapoor doing what you ask them to, but there is no cohesive force in this one unlike the previous film where Akshay Kumar held everything together. John Abraham tries his best to do an Akki act, but a weak script pulls him down again and again.

Naseeruddin Shah plays Wanted Bhai in Welcome Back.

There are three sides at war in Welcome Back: Ajju-Ranjana, Shetty-Majnu and Wanted Bhai. Those who were in the previous film understand the nuances of their characters, but the new entrants look confused about their characters’ graph. They don’t head towards a definitive curve. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise when Nana Patekar turns out to be the one with most funny expressions and one-liners. His conversation with Paresh Rawal will make you smile on any given day. See how Patekar describes Rawal’s character in the film: Dr Ghungroo ka khaandaan itna sharif hai ki inki ghar ki makhhiyaan bhi sar pe dupatta leke nikalti hain.

Or, this one when he describes his father and his unmarried status in the same breath: Yahan bachche bhukhe baithe hain aur baap teen baar lunch kar chukka hai.

Actually, these spontaneous dialogues are the backbone of Welcome Back. Somebody introduces Dimple Kapadia as “Yahi hai wo website jis se Rajkumari download hui hai.” It may sound absurd, but the timing is just perfect. The actors don’t disappoint if the director lets them bloom through dialogues in spite of songs or action sequences. Unfortunately, there are many songs. And they don’t give a warning sign before blaring at you from all sides. Weird lyrics don’t help either. Consider this one: Tu sapni main sapera. O sun le tu habibi, hai tu mera kareebi. Sapni! It was ‘naagin’ or ‘saanpin’ the last time we checked.

Bazmee doesn’t ‘build-up’ and arrives straight at the first song. It’s a smart thing to do in a film which has an expected story-line. It saves time. But then he wastes it on Wanted Bhai’s character. Naseeruddin Shah’s shoddily written role is probably the weakest link of Welcome Back. On top of it, he overacts. The ever young Anil ‘tedhe kandhe’ Kapoor is absolutely brilliant in the cemetery scene. His conversation with Nana Patekar is a treat to watch in this scene, but he regularly engages with others in the tussle to hog the limelight. John Abraham looks better in action sequences than the comic ones.

The film’s climax is a letdown. It’s stretched and unimaginative. Computer generated images are tacky and lackluster. In today’s world of super-nuanced CGI, Welcome Back stands absolutely no chance.

Welcome Back is funny in parts, but that ‘Welcome’ fluidity is missing big time. There are moments but they are very limited in number. Welcome Back’s pace is its biggest asset and that may make you enjoy this 153-minute long film. 

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