In 2007, Anees Bazmee was at the top of his game when he delivered Welcome along with Akshay Kumar. Today, Bazmee is struggling to make his own comeback with Welcome Back and he does not have Kumar. However, he has managed to retain the majority of his motley crew and added a couple of stalwarts to the wolfgang as well. But he is straddled with John Abraham and Shruti Haasan playing the lead pair as opposed to a highly successful Kumar and Katrina Kaif pairing in 2007. Nevertheless, Welcome Back is mounted on an enormous scale with money spent profusely on every thing possible. Yet, there was much thanda buzz around it leading upto its release. So, has Bazmee manage to score an ace to bring his market back up in B Town? Recently, Anil Kapoor said in an interview that it is important for this film to work so that Base Industries (Firoz Nadiadwala’s Company) stays in business.
Welcome Back, is more like a spinoff of its prequel using similar tropes and plot points, minimally turned on their heads to provide the pretense of freshness. The film starts with the don duo, Uday (Nana Patekar) and Majnu (Anil Kapoor) having bettered themselves for a life in Dubai. They find another lost sister, Ranjana (Shruti Haasan) who they have to get married. Ranjana likes Ajju Bhai (John Abraham) who happens to be Dr Ghunghroo’s (Paresh Rawal) illegitimate son. There is also Chandni (debutante Ankita Srivastava) who has wooed the dons once again, albeit she along with her mom (Dimple Kapadia) forms a team of con artists who are out to dupe them. To complete the wolfpack, there is Wanted Bhai (Naseeruddin Shah) and his drug-addict son Honey (Shiney Ahuja, making his comeback). While in Welcome, Uday and Majnu clearly had the upper hand over a meek Akshay Kumar, Ajju is a beast of his own kind and an infamous street gangster from Bombay. One of the reasons why Welcome Back does not ring true as much as Welcome did. If Ajju is a recognized criminal with many cases against him, and is clearly stronger than the dons, why does he need to play games with them to win Ranjana? A lot of the contrivances in Welcome Back look like they have been made to happen to regurgitate the success of the first part. That apart, a barrage of insipid songs haunt your senses as they play out, remarkably a romantic number between the lead pair. Infact, their chemistry is so half-baked that you would lose interest in them right away. Unlike Welcome, there are no clear motives of characters and they are used by the screenplay (Bazmee, Rajeev Kaul, Rajan Aggarwal, Praful Parekh) to satisfy the unreal plot.
However, Welcome Back is not all bad. There are numerous lough out loud moments, specially abled by the chemistry provided by Patekar and Kapoor, propelled by Raaj Shaandilya’s dialogue. Many a times I found myself guffawing at the punches, and very few times at the gags, specially the long gag at a graveyard in second half falls flat. Welcome Back gets boring at times, and is very entertaining at other times, but never does it get unbearable. The production values of Welcome Back are huge but still some frames suffer from bad CGI work. Kabir Lal’s cinematography is very touristy and grand, but also very tacky at times. The action by Abbas Ali Moghul is well suited for Abraham. Music of the film, despite done by a variety of artists, lags much behind its first part.
Credited first in the opening sequence, Anil Kapoor is the star of the show, closely followed by Nana Patekar, who together are responsible for providing the most laughs. Kapoor looks delectable and walks through Majnu Bhai with a panache. On the other hand, Nana plays Uday subtly but manages to make a significant impact. John is a weak link in most scenes and except for beauty shots, he looks plain dumb. Taking the cake of bad performances is Shruti Haasan who ludicrously runs through all her lines. Paresh Rawal is his usual awesome self and manages to crack you up many a times. Dimple Kapadia and Shiney Ahuja seem wasted in inconsequential roles. Debutante Ankita Srivastava may look gorgeous but has a long way to go to hone for acting skills. Veteran Naseeruddin Shah looks completely out of place as the master don and his jokes are mostly mundane. Every one else in the supporting cast is ordinary.
On the whole, Welcome Back is passable for a one time watch, and considering its first part was no classic, this one seems sinking further into the sea. However, it is Uday and Majnu’s histrionics that provide a lifeboat to dock the film at the shore. The film has taken an average opening at the Box Office and I am not sure if any word of mouth will help it. Considering the copious amounts of money splurged on action sequences and the climax, I hope that they break even. If you are an ardent fan of Uday-Majnu angle from the first part, do give this one a try, else there is nothing much to rave about.
Rating – 2/5