It is difficult to make people laugh. More so when the makers are burdened with too many check-boxes to tick. Mudassar Aziz’s Happy Bhag Jayegi is just that. Picture this…

There is Diana Penty who makes her comeback. Oh wait, there is Abhay Deol too.
There is an India-Pakistan angle to which one owes sensitivity.
The lead character is supposed to ooze a one-in-a-million aura.
There is the film’s romantic comedy genre to live up to.
There is an experienced supporting cast to do justice to.
Finally, there is the production house that makes sure the film grabs all attention.

What goes for a toss is the script – that is anything but funny. The last time I experienced similar boredom watching a supposed rom-com was with Danish Aslam’s Break Ke Baad  – which was at least well-shot. The writing in Happy Bhag Jayegi is so uninspiring that even the 2-hour runtime makes you restless.

Happy Bhag Jayegi begins on a promising note. Fifteen minutes into the story, the film nosedives to a point of no return. The characters cruise to and fro from India to Pakistan, as if it were a backpacking trip. While their shenanigans make no sense, one wishes there were at least a couple of idiotic lines (like the Hera Pheri series) to chuckle on. Nay!

On the technical front, the film is nothing to write home about. Cinematography is dull and editing loose. Production design is just about okay while the dialogues are listless. Sohail Sen’s songs are rather tuneful but the background score jars.

To add to the woes, all actors put in sincere efforts to bring life to their parts and it is the writing that plays spoilsport. The biggest surprise comes in form of Pakistani actor Momal Sheikh who makes her Bollywood debut. She pitches in a brilliant, nuanced performance that easily beats the rest of the cast. We would love to see more of her on Indian screen.

Abhay Deol performs as if he realized midway that he’s aboard a sinking ship. He is good, nevertheless. Diana Penty, to give her due credit, tries her best. Sadly, Happy’s characterization lacks any charm for which the audience would have rooted for. As the title character, she is introduced in the most random way possible. Even as the film proceeds, she isn’t photographed well enough for us to buy what they are projecting her as. Plus, the actor lacks the much-required spunk and an ability to let go off herself, thus making the Punjabi pataka lines sound rehearsed. All we needed was a younger Kareena Kapoor Khan in her Jab We Met mode! In Kapoor’s own words, JUST IMAGINE!

Ali Fazal is decent despite his half-baked character. Piyush Mishra is very good as the Pakistani cop. The biggest disservice is meted out to Jimmy Shergill who simply gets to repeat his Tanu Weds Manu act.

As said earlier, the film seems like a meaningless attempt to tick all check-boxes. Are there possible takeaways from this dubious comedy then? I would say Momal Shaikh and a heartfelt solo by Javed Ali – Yaaram. For the rest, Happy Bhag Jayegi will give you all reasons to doze off in the auditorium.

Rating: ★★