Thomas Wolfe was wrong about many things, none of which come to mind right now. But he was dead on when he observed that you can never really go home again. And not just because your parents are unbearable, or because the tentwallah blasts bhajans early every morning, or because you get slapped senseless when you try to kiss your girlfriend. More than anything else, you can't go home again because the people you knew have changed. For one thing, they've heard the dil pe mat le joke before.
HB2 is a lot like HB1 but with a lot less. Maybe that's cruel. Maybe there's just no way to recreate the magic of the original. Maybe that magic was ephemeral, although it did last 33 weeks and then six years. But the sequel is made and there's no point cribbing about it. So we won't. We'll just tell you what worked, and what happened outside of those ten minutes.
All the ingredients are here - aunty with/without pallu, fat lewd friend, thin lewd friend (plus two bonus lewd friends), nagging parents and, yes, a love story that happens after much ranting by girl and much bewildered groveling by boy. Varun and Ashwini are as we left them, but their marriage is six-years-old and she thinks it's time to make the babies. Only, he has a headache tonight.
Varun is scared out of wits by this new, invigorated (although that bit he doesn't mind) campaign to make him a father. And everyone's on his case. Except the foxy girl at office. Trying to escape one disaster, he runs full tilt into another, only this second one wears a come-hither smile, leans seductively into his arms and the next thing you know they're on the floor, gasping for breath and wrestling to get his damn wedding ring off.
Okay, so here's the thousand-rupee question: if a man's wafer-thin resistance falls, and there's no one around to hear it, is it really adultery? Two things wrong with that scene. For one, he doesn't give in to considerable temptation, and for another, the entire mess was overheard. And by a vengeful colleague (the worst kind).
Wife finds out, hell breaks loose. She leaves him and suddenly everyone in his life has gyaan to offer on exactly what he should do. As before, Kukunoor's film throws up all these extremely pertinient questions - about our society's obsessive need to have everyone be like everyone else, about the kind of unwanted baggage this brings into a relationship, about biological clocks driving couples cuckoo, and, most interestingly, about certain gray areas of Fidelity (oh boy).
Lots of questions, lots of random leching by the friends, lots of cursing Hyderabadi-style. Trouble is, while all of this worked for the first movie, here it all seems a little too 'planted'. Nothing wrong with duplicating a successful formula (it might even be stupid not to), but why this need to stick in the old constants?
Ah, we crib, but HB2 still scores for the same reasons its prequel did - it puts our city up there on 70mm. The best parts about the movie, apart from Elahe Hiptoola and her colorful range of spousal insults, are the ones where you see Hyderabad. Still does it for me to be able to recognize the streets and the cusses - heck, even some of people look vaguely familiar. Kukunoor's done a decent job with the casting, but Rajshri Nair was definitely missed.
HB2 obviously has more money than the last film did six years ago; but the prosperity is evident only in terms of a slightly slicker production, and inclusion in the soundtrack of one rather lovely semi-classical by Pakistani band Fuzon. The much-touted Alter Egoz number, Dil Pe Mat Lo, has all these Total Hyderabad references, none of which are comprehensible thanks to the messed up sound system. Might be a better idea to buy the album.
For all the overdone hype, though, HB2 keeps some of its homespun appeal. Just wish they hadn't gone overboard with trying to be Hyderabadi, trying to be funny, trying to be so all that. Defeats the purpose of an indie movie, all that trying.