Movie Review: Welcome Back

September 4, 2015

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Anees Bazmee’s 2007 “Welcome” was one of those ‘guilty pleasure’ films, salvaged in great part by a talented cast and some clever dialogue. Eight years later, Bazmee tries to recreate the same formula and comes up with a watered-down version of the original fun caper.

The film draws its strength mainly from Uday Shetty and Majnu Bhai (played by Nana Patekar and Anil Kapoor respectively), two reformed gangsters who pine for their old gun-wielding lifestyle. The story follows a rather convoluted graph – from Shetty’s sister (Shruti Hassan) and her love story with local strongman Ajju (John Abraham), to Naseeruddin Shah as a delightfully wacky blind don called Wanted Bhai and Dimple Kapadia as a small-time conwoman who wants to dupe Shetty and Majnu Bhai of their wealth.

Narrating the plot is a futile exercise in a film like “Welcome Back” because this is not a script that employs any structure or sense. The ensemble cast hurtles from one situation to the next, propelled by writer Raaj Shandilya’s occasionally inspired dialogue and by the comic timing of Shah, Kapoor, Patekar and Kapadia. In this film, it’s the senior citizens (as John Abraham’s character refers to them) who are having all the fun.

The younger brigade – notably Hassan and Abraham – look like they are competing for an award in bad acting, trying to outdo each other with blank stares and shrill voices while declaring their love for each other. Patekar and Kapoor are the exact opposite. They play off each other’s strengths and exhibit great comic timing, most notably during an inspired sequence at a graveyard.

Shandilya also gives the oldies some clever lines to play with: when Wanted Bhai declares that he will decide the fate of two characters, he says, “Kanoon bhi main hoon aur andha bhi main hi hoon” (I am justice and I am also blind).

Bazmee, thankfully, doesn’t resort to the tried and tested trope of toilet humour, but couldn’t resist some innuendo and sexually explicit songs. At 153 minutes, the film is stretched and there aren’t enough clever lines or funny gags to fill up the time.

The climax, with its marauding camels and a crazed-looking Shiney Ahuja (in his comeback role), is a mess. “Welcome Back” is sporadically funny, one that ebbs and flows; but it just about passes the ‘guilty pleasure’ test thanks to Kapoor and Patekar.

(Editing by David Lalmalsawma; follow Shilpa on Twitter @shilpajay, and David @davidlms25. This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

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