Director Anees Bazmee followed up the rib-tickling ‘No Entry’ (2005) with another comedy ‘Welcome’ (2007) that went on to become one of the biggest hits of 2007. The Akshay Kumar-Katrina Kaif starrer is best remembered for the antics of Doctor Ghungroo (Paresh Rawal), underworld dons Uday Shetty (Nana Patekar) and Majnu Bhai (Anil Kapoor). While these three characters have been retained in ‘Welcome Back’, the sequel that surfaces eight years after the original hit the theatres, most of the cast consist of actors who were not a part of the 2007 film.
Uday Shetty (Nana Patekar) and Majnu Bhai (Anil Kapoor) have left their past as underworld dons behind them and now run a hotel business in Dubai. Both of them are upset about the fact they are still unmarried. Poonam (Dimple Kapadia) and her mother Babita (Ankita Srivastava) are con artistes and they devise a plan to get Uday and Majnu fall in love with Babita so that they can rob them off their wealth. They book a room in their hotel and pretend to be the queen and princess of Najabgarh. Uday and Majnu fall for her and try to outdo each other in a race to marry Babita/Chandni. In this mayhem, Uday’s father (Nana Patekar again) reaches out to Uday and informs him that he has a stepsister named Ranjana (Shruti Haasan). He requests Uday to get her married to a man from a respectable family. Meanwhile, Doctor Ghungroo (Paresh Rawal) gets to know that his wife (Supriya Karnik) has a son from a relationship she had before she got married to him. Both of them set off to meet him in India. Upon reaching India, Ghungroo finds out that his stepson is a much feared goon. Ghungroo is shocked at this revelation and is concerned about the fact that he has promised Uday that he would get his stepson married to Ranjana.
There are many subplots in the film and the director and the editor’s struggle to pack in too many things in the first half is evident. While the pace is brisk, there are many sequences which fail to register an impact because of the rushed up treatment. There could have been elaborate detailing and a build-up that could have led the audience towards the culmination of the subplots. The narrative improves, to a great extent, in the second half. The introduction of a couple of new and interesting characters like Wanted (Naseerudddin Shah) and Honey (Shiney Ahuja) adds spice to the proceedings. The twists might not boast of novelty but keep one entertained.
Anees Bazmee’s direction is good; he succeeds at making a fast paced comedy and provides a good amount of laughs. His command over the film in the first half seems a little shaky as he takes too many creative liberties, giving the audience many moments which force them to roll their eyes in disbelief. He makes up for an above average first half with a largely engaging second half. The screenplay (Rajiv Kaul, Praful Parekh, Rajan Agrawal and Anees Bazmee) is filled with entertaining moments. Though the writers resort to several clichés, they manage to come up with an interesting premise. The second half bears a faint resemblance to the plot of ‘Main Tera Hero’ but makes for an engaging watch nevertheless. While few of the lines make you cringe, most of the dialogues (Raaj Shandilya) are very funny. Songs (Anu Malik, Meet Bros. Anjjan, Mika Singh, Siddhanth Madhav and Abhishek Ray) are forgettable. The background score (Aadesh Shrivastava) is impactful. The film boasts of some beautiful sets and picturesque locations which has captured very well by Kabir Lal. The action sequences (Abbas Ali Moghul) are over the top but engaging. The visual effects used in the action scenes (Prime Focus Ltd.) are not up to the mark.
John Abraham’s performance is far from being impressive. He fails to emote and looks ill at ease playing the role of an uncouth goon. Shruti Haasan does not get much scope but is good. Anil Kapoor, Nana Patekar and Paresh Rawal reprise their respective character from the original. As expected, they deliver the best performances and keep the audience entertained with their antics. Naseeruddin Shah has a lot of fun with his role but one feels the character could have been better written. Dimple Kapadia gives an excellent performance as a con artist. Shiney Ahuja hams in the beginning but gives a good account of himself as the film moves forward. Debutante Ankita Srivastava gets a lot of scope to perform and impresses with her performance. Neeraj Grover and Rajpal Yadav have interesting cameos.
‘Welcome’ had several elements which one witnesses in the original. The sequel retains the spirit of the original by sticking to a specific blueprint but has a different storyline packed with numerous gags. The original had a leading man (Akshay Kumar) who has good comic timing. Unfortunately, one cannot say the same about John Abraham here as his performance is one of the weakest links in the film. Even with a middling first half, ‘Welcome Back’ turns out to be an engaging fare.