Director: Anees Bazmee
Starring: Anil Kapoor, Nana Patekar, Paresh Rawal, John Abraham, Shruti Haasan
The sequel Welcome Back assembles an ensemble cast in an attempt to recreate the magic of the 2007 original, Welcome.
Burdened with a convoluted plot and stale humour, it might well outstay its welcome in cinemas.
However, it pulled in an impressive crowd when it debuted in India on Friday, earning a respectable 150 million Indian rupees (Dh8.2m) on its opening day. With no other big films opening last weekend, it is expected to have a great week. Whether it merits this, however, is up for debate.
Nana Patekar and Anil Kapoor reprise their roles of Uday Shetty and Majnu Bhai from the original film. The erstwhile gangsters have left their underworld days behind them and are now successful businessmen in Dubai, and on the lookout for a husband for their stepsister Ranjana (Shruti Haasan).
This leads them to Dr Ghungroo (Paresh Rawal) and his son, Ajju Bhai (John Abraham), an accomplished gangster in his own right.
Also in the mix are con women Babita (newcomer Ankita Srivastava), her mother Poonam (Dimple Kapadia), underworld warlord Wanted Bhai (Naseeruddin Shah) and his drug-addict son Honey (Shiney Ahuja).
With a cast as big as this, the screenplay was bound to get a bit baffling but director Anees Bazmee has taken buffoonery to a whole new level, with a senseless plot in which matchmaking dominates all other activities and allegiances swing faster than a pendulum. Eventually, it becomes exhausting just trying to follow what’s happening. This is especially true of the climax, which is unnecessarily stretched out to the extent that it belies logic and patience.
As for the actors, only Patekar and Kapoor shine in an otherwise insipid cast.
Most of the others disappoint, including Abraham, who fails miserably to fill an Akshay Kumar-sized hole in the cast from the original film. While Kumar’s superb comic timing made Welcome tick, the sequel falls mostly flat, as none of the other actors are able to pull off the film’s comedy.
What do work, though, are the gorgeous sets and locations. Replete with supercars, opulent villas and glitzy hotels, Welcome Back presents the UAE at its sparkling best. Scenes of the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Marina and Emirates Palace make for a fun viewing, especially for those of us who live here.
The music, composed by Anu Malik, is garish and jarring, however, with songs forced into the plot at inappropriate times.
Overall, Welcome Back is pure slapstick, daring the audience to find any coherence in its plot.