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Happy Bhag Jayegi  : A Healthy Cross-Border Chuckle
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Friday, August 19, 2016
Mudassar Aziz
Diana Penty, Abhay Deol, Momal Sheikh, Jimmy Shergill, Ali Fazal, Mika Singh

Indo-Pak themes normally take themselves so seriously that writer-director Mudassar Aziz’s irreverent comedy is a welcome breath of fresh air.


While local corporator and bridegroom Daman Singh Bagga shakes an awkward leg at his own wedding in Amritsar, his spirited bride Happy runs away and lands quite by chance in Lahore.


On the other side of the Wagah border is Bilal Ahmed whose influential dad dreams of his son becoming the next Jinnah and changing the history of Pakistan. Bilal would rather play cricket on the streets but he obeys his Abbu without confrontation. It includes marrying Zoya, handpicked by his father as a smart political move. But once Happy crashes into Bilal’s life, the fun never stops.  


Whether it’s Amritsar or Lahore, Punjabi or Urdu, Aziz doesn’t treat anything like a holy cow. By steering away from all things political or religious, the comedy rolls along inoffensively. Aziz also avoids clichés like a sea of burkhas or frequent references to namaaz or Insha Allah to depict Pakistan or Muslim culture.  He keeps the lifestyle normal on both sides and pokes light-hearted fun at everybody.


Some of the rib-tickling moments include bridegroom Bagga’s repeated reference to how much he spent on the wedding and Bilal hiding Happy in his bungalow under his dad’s nose with the connivance of the staff. Happy handing over a currency note with Gandhi’s face instead of Jinnah’s to a rickshawallah in Lahore is light and funny. Pakistani Usman Afridi’s Urdu versus Bagga’s Punjabi, evokes much laughter. Afridi’s drunken night with Happy’s boyfriend Guddu in Amritsar is amusing. And a scene between Bilal’s dad and Zoya’s father makes you grin.


Like a good Priyadarshan film of yore, the climax is pure mayhem and the end is not quite what you’d expect which makes it refreshing.


Sohail Sen’s peppy music also keeps the rhythm going.


Happy Bhag Jayegi has its flaws of course. One of which is why all the men, Bagga, Guddu and Bilal fall in love with Happy. The story is also not emotionally strong in content.


But there’s freshness in the casting with Diana Penty providing energy as Happy. Abhay Deol is at home as Bilal, the politician in the making. Producer Anand L Rai’s staple actor Jimmy Sheirgill once again proves how polished he can be in almost any kind of role. Momal Sheikh who makes her Hindi film debut as Zoya is pretty and fits the role. Ali Fazal is acceptable as Guddu. Piyush Mishra is a delight as the Urdu spouting Pakistani.


For its ability to have a good-natured laugh at India and Pakistan, Happy Bhag Jayegi gets a 3* rating.


Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author


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