My lasting memory of Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se is that everybody drinks a lot – there are vodka shots, daru desi, fancy champagne, neat whiskey, liquor mixed with nariyal paani, a character who begins drinking with breakfast and another who creates a ruckus after getting drunk at 10 in the night. They should serve some in theatres too, perhaps sprinkled on your popcorn and mixed with your cola, because being soused is the only way you can survive 148-minutes of this loud, over-the-top drama.
The none-too-ambitiously named Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se is the third iteration of the cottage industry the Deols – dad Dharmendra, sons Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol – began seven years ago. The first film had charm and it was fun to watch them riffing off their famous songs and dialogues. In 2018, the jokes have worn thin. For, how many times can you clap when the same old dhai kilo ka haath is retreaded and served as a punch line?
The Deols, however, refuse to come out of the time wrap. Every cliché, every trope that Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se met, it wanted to woo and take to bed. So, you have Dharmendra as the charming man and a chick magnet, Sunny Deol as the good-hearted man with a short temper and Bobby Deol as the black sheep of the family who will see the light in due time. The fact that the film begins in Amritsar gives it leeway to bung in enough ‘balle balles’ and ‘puttars’, ‘lassi’ and ‘daaru’ to last you a lifetime. A part of the film is based on Gujarat too and comes filled to the brim with ‘kem cho’, ‘saru che’ and a steady supply of dhokla.
Sunny and Bobby play brothers – while Sunny is a famous vaid who comes from a long line of ayurvedic doctors, his brother just wants to get rich quickly. Sunny’s Puran owns a jadi-booti medicine that cures everything from impotency to pimples. Enter Big Pharma that wants the formula at any cost and bribes Bobby. Sunny’s dhai kilo ka haath (sorry, couldn’t resist) does the talking and the Suit promises revenge. Dharmendra plays their tenant, a lawyer who wins cases purely based on his charm and travels on a Sholay-style bike with two cut-price apsaras. Kriti Kharbanda plays a Gujarati surgeon who loves her booze and should have had her license revoked a long time back. Big Pharma gets the formula and a long court battle follows with Dharmendra representing the brothers.
The writing is so lazy and dialogues so inept that the responsibility of the final mess should be equally shared by everyone involved. The blame for the two-and-a-half-hours length can easily be laid at the door of director Navaniat Singh. This film could have been wrapped up in 90 minutes or, better still, never been made.
The climax is so drawn out and painful that a visit to the dentist looks better in comparison. In a rare moment of truth, the cast accepts that they will be wasting the time for the next 20 minutes and then go ahead and do it. The comedy by this time has reached such a nadir that calling it mindless would actually be a compliment.
Even the makers seem to have realized just how much they were stretching the paper-thin plot and second half has a lot of veteran actors in walk-on parts. Shatrughan Sinha shows up to say khamosh, Asrani’s comic act is cringe-worthy and Rekha riffs off her old hits. If you are patient enough to last the entire film, there is Salman Khan in there too.
But, from someone who has been through the wringer and lived to tell the tale, no Salman Khan cameo is enough to justify 2.5 hours of Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se. So, avoid the film and go and see that dentist.