It turns out, sequels no longer need to be a continuation of a story, nor do any returning actors have to even play the same character as before. No, a sequel now means using the name of a film that was somewhat successful, with the same actor, but having a story that can be absolutely anything. Kunal Deshmukh's Jannat 2, produced by the Bhatt camp, is a baffling experience in trying to figure out what's going on, why it's going on, where the story is, why Emraan Hashmi is acting so strangely, and what exactly the 'jannat' (heaven) in the title is referring to. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the earlier Jannat.
With so many questions to answer, Jannat 2 falters and fumbles each step of the way. Yet it's one of those train wrecks that you just can't look away from. Such can be the power of misdirected cinema. The damage starts right when Hashmi (painfully artificial here) is introduced as Sonu Dilli KKC. The name is supposed to make you understand three things - he's supposed to be an ordinary joe-schmo, he's a true Delhiite (because, you know, it's in his name) and he has a reputation for being a 'kutti, kameeni cheez' (hence KKC - no, I'm not even joking). So our lovable hero has a forced Delhi-Punjabi twang (happens to say 'binness' like Ranveer Singh's Bittoo in Band Baaja Baraat), and has badly written voiceovers and monologues that are completely unnecessary. He also happens to be a low-level dealer at the bottom of a large, dangerous pyramid of the locally produced gun trade.
Joining Sonu is an even more dysfunctional character, ACP Pratap (Randeep Hooda). Pratap is perpetually angry and drunk, still grieving over the death of his wife who was killed in a random attack, by someone with an illegal gun. Instead of trying to track down the killer and bring him to justice, Pratap is more interested in putting an end to the illegal gun trade. He somehow finds Sonu Dilli and forces him into becoming a police mole working for the head honcho of the local gun trade. Hooda remains faithfully wooden throughout the film, while relishing every opportunity to angrily bang tables, yell profanities, or threaten people. But, we're supposed to feel sorry for him.
A film on the messy and dangerous world of illegal gun trade would be incomplete without a love story. Of course. And while we're all for masala entertainers - the inexplicable knack for Hindi cinema to mix the most random themes and issues with love, comedy and action - Jannat 2 exemplifies a special brand of film that just hasn't been thought all the way through. Enter Jhanvi Singh Tomar (Esha Gupta, bearing a strong resemblance to Lara Dutta), a doctor at a local charity hospital. Never before has a "doctor" looked so out of place in a hospital. Naturally, Sonu Dilli falls head over heels in love with her within a minute of seeing her for the first time. He slashes his palm and asks his friends to beat him up, just so he can go to her to be healed again and again. He also belts out a few songs for her, while she models a range of saris in slow motion.
The Bhatts are known for their good taste in music, with a respectable track record in delivering hummable soundtracks. In this case, even the music by Pritam fails to hit the mark. Perhaps it's the fact that the songs jump out at you at the most inappropriate moments in the script or that the intense, passionate feelings they describe seem just unfeasible when Sonu has literally just met Jhanvi. But then again, who are we to question love (lust?) at first sight.
One of the glaring flaws of Jannat 2, right from the beginning, is its weak script. The story is so predictable that you'll be several steps ahead of the script, having already figured out the upcoming twists and moved on to planning what to have for dinner. Add to that the lackluster performances by Hashmi, Hooda, Gupta and the gang and you feel absolutely nothing for the characters, whether they are crying, in love, or dying. The only watchable moments, if any, are the chase/action sequences across the rooftops of Delhi and through the dargah. They are well shot and interesting to a certain extent. Then, the characters start talking again.
The unfortunate thing about Jannat 2 is that it had a potentially gripping concept - the spiraling mess of ambition and relationships within the illegal arms trade. But the film is an example of how badly such potential can be butchered and tossed aside. And yet again, we're left wondering why so many Hindi filmmakers refuse to acknowledge the importance of a good, tight script. Perhaps that is the 'jannat' this film should have been aspiring towards.