In Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2, co-writer and director Luv Ranjan has essentially remade his own previous film. What's interesting, however, is that it's considerably funnier and slightly less misogynistic than 2011's Pyaar Ka Punchnama. That film gave us a trio of hilarious male protagonists that instantly came off as real and believable. Its female characters, on the other hand, were portrayed as singularly intolerable. The new film makes the same point all over again - that women are often selfish, manipulative, and overbearing, and that they have men wrapped around their little finger - but for the most part, the script employs humor over venom to drive home the message.
The victims, once again, are three best friends and flat-mates in Noida, whose lives are quickly turned upside down and inside out by the women they lose their hearts to. Anshul (Kartik Aryan) is dating bimbo-brained Ruchika (Nushrat Bharucha), whose closeness to her male best friend is driving him crazy. Tarun (Omkar Kapoor) has maxed out his credit cards pampering Kusum (Ishita Raj), but she's unsupportive and selfish when he's plotting a career switch. Chauka (Sunny Singh) is reduced to driver, mechanic, and all round errand-boy of his girlfriend Supriya (Sonnalli Seygall) and her parents, although she can't muster up the courage to tell them she loves him.
Ranjan gets the easy laidback vibe between the boys just right…the ribbing and the riling, the sympathy for each other's situation, the unconditional solidarity when things take a serious turn. The dialogues, often clever, are sharply delivered by the men who, not surprisingly, come off way more likeable than their female counterparts who have the odds permanently stacked against them. Sure most men will find a few scenarios of ball-busting by the women familiar, but Ranjan makes no effort whatsoever to present anything but a skewed perspective.
Having said that I cannot deny that I laughed a lot while watching the film. Ranjan's jokes, as facile as they may be, seldom miss their mark, and the actors are in good form too. Sunny Singh is especially endearing as the forever-whining Chauka, who's embarrassed that he's being relentlessly exploited and manipulated by his girlfriend. Nushrat Bharucha is a real hoot as the annoying, sing-song-voiced Chiku who thinks nothing of going through her boyfriend's emails and throwing a tantrum after spotting old exchanges with his then-girlfriend.
For his sheer energy alone, it's hard not to cheer as Kartik Aryan launches into a 7-minute monologue, in which he basically savages women for the way they treat men. From Kate Winslet's selfishness at not sharing that plank of wood with Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic, to complaining that men aren't even allowed any quiet time while on the toilet seat or even after sex, that unforgiving diatribe pulls out all stops in the film's female-bashing agenda.
It's in the last act that the film throws away any pretence of humor and adopts an especially spiteful tone that's reminiscent of the earlier film. Until this point the jokes were consistently funny and the stereotyping seldom mean-spirited. I expect, nevertheless, that many people will find Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 very enjoyable. I did too, a lot of it. I laughed guiltily at so many jokes.
For that, I'm going with three out of five. Someday we'll get a smart film on the battle of the sexes. Until then, perhaps cheap laughs will have to do..?
Rating: 3 / 5
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