Oh these pesky sequels, they are always a tough act, specially if the original has attained the status of a beloved classic, as it has, in the case of Lage Raho Munnabhai. While making the sequel you have to be concerned with the continuity of the story and the logical development of characters while making sure that the audience does not get a sense of deja-vu. The creative team behind Lage Raho deftly steps aside these minefields by not continuing the story from Munnabhai MBBS, rather, they just retain the two lead characters of lovable small time crooks – Munnabhai and Circuit and start with a clean slate. The result is a movie that is a triumph of the art of movie making.
Of course, the movie works as a great comedy and that itself would have been sufficient to make it a worthy sequel. What really makes the sequel stand out and indeed surpass the original is that it is so much more ambitious than the original and yet it works so well at so many different levels – as a comedy, as a feel good heart warming story, as a political movie, as a patriotic movie and finally, as a movie that serves as a great antidote to the mindless violence and rubbish solutions presented in Rang De Basanti. The first fifteen minutes of the movie have Arshad Warsi and Boman Irani (as a gaudy, unscrupulous builder who is a spitting image of many such builders found in the by lanes of Karol Bagh) displaying their impeccable comic timing and got me to laugh so hard that I was crying. That itself was worth the price of admission, everything else that follows is a bonus. Sanjay Dutt again excels in a role that might end up defining his career, Vidya Balan shows that the charm, charisma and acting prowess that she displayed in Parineeta was no fluke and Arshad Warsi was born to play the role of Circuit.
But the real hero of the movie is the script, always innovative and always funny. When you are trying to peddle the Mahatma as the Sutradhar (anchor-man) of your story, and you push his path of non-violence and love as solutions to today’s problems, there is always the danger of alienating your audience. Not because there is something wrong with Gandhiji’s ideas per-se, but due to the fact that since Independence, our political class has so much used and abused Gandhian principles as something to be repeated at every occasion and never to be followed in principle that a majority of the country is simply numb to any sort of Gandhian message. The movie pokes fun at precisely that image of Mahatma Gandhi and might even manage to make the Mahatma cool again for the Gen Y. And the audience is never alienated because the script ensures that the movie does not become a preachy, shrill October 2nd speech. It retains its core of being a really funny comedy movie that is attempting to be a little more.
It succeeds and how!