A lackluster counterfeit

Daniyal Zahid believes Judwaa 2 works only for David and Varun Dhawan followers - especially the uncritical ones

A lackluster counterfeit
Judwaa was a cult classic that till date has its loyal fan-base – a subset of the combined fans of Salman Khan and David Dhawan.

Those two, who ruled their respective spheres in the 1990s, united in 1997 for the very first time, approaching the peak of their powers to give their respective – and common – fans a chef-d’oeuvre that, like Andaz Apna Apna, would be slated by the critics at the time.

But while Andaz Apna Apnahad bombed at the box office as well – boosting its cult status decades later – Judwaa was a runaway hit, like most films of David Dhawan and Salman Khan, approaching the turn of the century.

So fittingly Judwaa, Salman Khan’s first double role, started a journey for the actor-director combo that eventually gave numerous commercial hits, some of which weren’t lambasted by the critics, like Biwi No 1, Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge, Mujh Se Shaadi Karogi, and their last venture together Partner a decade ago.

So it is all the aforementioned billing that Judwaa 2 had to live up to as its much marketed remake. And even though commercial success is pouring in, the remake falls short of pretty much everything that the original had.

The storyline is the same. Conjoined twins Prem and Raja (Varun Dhawan) are separated at birth and grow up in different countries, only to reunite a couple of decades later to figure out their reflexive connectivity whenever (read: whenever the script requires) they’re in proximity of one another.
And so, when the same director decides to remake his own comedy hit, it was always going to be judged on two factors: its ability to make the audience laugh and how it recreates the essence of the original

How this phenomenon results in a series of comic misunderstandings, and constant identity crises is what the film – just like the original, which itself was a remake of Telugu movie Hello Brother and Jackie Chan’s Twin Dragons – is all about.

The crucial difference between the original and the ‘reboot’ – as David Dhawan calls the remake – is that despite borrowing storylines from elsewhere, Judwaa followed a concise script of its own, that had many a subplot. And while some of those subplots have been retained, Judwaa 2 is a clear endeavour to put together highlights from Judwaa and cash in on the popularity that it still enjoys.

David Dhawan said as much in the promotional campaigns for Judwaa 2: “There are some 8 – 10 scenes from Judwaa that I loved and that made me make this film.”

And so, when the same director decides to remake his own comedy hit, it was always going to be judged on two factors: its ability to make the audience laugh and how it recreates the essence of the original.

As far as the author is concerned, Taapsee Pannu adds more glam to the film than Jacqueline Fernandez

While there are laughs aplenty – for those that have, or can muster, a taste for David Dhawan’s brand of uber-slapstick – it ends up being a lackluster counterfeit once you compare it to the original.

This is especially true in the scenes that Judwaa 2 recreates almost frame to frame, leaving visibly forced imitations and the only possible joy coming from one being reminded of the original scene.

While Varun Dhawan deserves the plaudits for his portrayal of the two poles-apart identical twins, and is perhaps the closest any among his generation of actors can come to imitating Salman Khan, he too yoyos between replicating Salman’s renditions of Prem and Raja, and creating his own.

But while Varun Dhawan manages to hold his own, it is elsewhere that the film falls apart in its ability to recreate.

No one has come close to creating a niche that Karisma Kapoor carved out for herself – which made her a permanent fix for David Dhawan in the 90s – at a time when the female leads were constantly found on the periphery, most notably in comedies. And Jacqueline Fernandez wasn’t exactly expected to take a shot at that.

But while Jacqueline does what she does best– up the ante on glamour – it is Taapsee Pannu who displayed her now proven acting prowess, in addition to glamming up the film.

However, ironically, Judwaa 2 remains a complete Varun Dhawan show, more so than Judwaa was a Salman Khan show.

Salman Khan in the original 'Judwaa'

The exchanges between two standout pairs Kader Khan –Tiku Talsania and Anupam Kher - Satish Shah, as the jeeja-saala and inspector-hawaldaar respectively, have been recreated but completely fall flat in the remake.

Anupam Kher who plays Kader Khan’s role in the remake is asked to force himself on a character that was clearly meant for Kader Khan alone.

It is no coincidence that the sharpness of David Dhawan’s comedies plunged – even if the box office numbers mightn’t have – once Kader Khan’s permanent presence was gone.

Judwaa 2 is purely for David and Varun Dhawan followers, and strictly for those with any semblance of nostalgia with regards to Judwaa. But it is unfortunately those cultists that might feel the most let down by the remake.

If you haven’t watched the first part, aren’t a die-hard Varun Dhawan fan, or haven’t ever enjoyed David Dhawan movies – especially in the last 15 years – don’t waste your money on Judwaa 2.

For many others, however, the remakes of Oonchi Hai Building and Tan Tana Tan TanTan Tara alone might be paisa vasool twice over.