Planet Bollywood
Hyderabad Blues 2
Producer: Elahe Hiptoola, Nagesh Kukunoor
Director: Nagesh Kukunoor
Starring: Nagesh Kukunoor, Jyothi Dogra, Vikram Inamdar, Elahe Hiptoola
Music: Salim-Suleiman
Genre: Drama
Recommended Audience: General
Film Released on: 02 July 2004
Reviewed by: Vijay Venkataramanan  - Rating: 8.5 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 410 viewers)
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In 1998, a tiny, little film that looked not far more polished than a home video, made a quiet entrance into Indian movie halls. With a cast comprising of mostly friends and family members of its director, it was made on a budget that could barely feed the crew of a mainstream Bollywood film. More than twenty-five weeks later, when the movie left the cinemas, it had unearthed the strength of India’s urban movie-going audience, and gave birth to the trend of urban-oriented, low-budget filmmaking. The brains, or rather the guts behind the success of “Hyderabad Blues” was Nagesh Kukunoor. Three films later, Kukunoor revives his debut gem in a sequel that is equally fresh, heartfelt, delightful, and extremely funny.

Simplicity was Kukunoor’s force de resistance. Despite having grown so far as a technical craftsman, and having a budget that is almost three times that of the original film, he makes a conscious effort to make “HB2” look just like its predecessor. The same cast (with the exception of Jyoti Dogra), the raw and simple camerawork, the amusingly amateurish style of acting, and not to mention the brilliantly written characters all return, giving a mesmerizing sense of de’ja vu. However, what “HB2” lacks in comparison, is the depth of its main character’s identity crisis. As a result, one doesn’t seem to be as attached to Varun (Kukunoor) as they are to rest of the characters. Varun doesn’t drive the story of the sequel with the force that he did in the original. And this is perhaps why “HB1” still maintains that slight margin of superiority over “HB2”. Comparisons aside, this is a movie you should not miss!

“HB2” picks up six years after where the first movie left off. Varun and Ashwini (now played by Jyoti Dogra) are “happily” married, have great jobs, great friends, and the list goes on. The only thing missing is a child, which according to Varun is a no-no. This, along with the threat of an extra-martial affair is just one of the problems our lead couple are pitted against. Whether Ashwini and Varun unite to fight these issues together, or fight each other instead is for you to find out.

Kukunoor’s writing strength forms the backbone of “HB2”. Though there is not much to the film’s plot, it is the intricacy and affection with which Kukunoor writes his characters that will make this film remain etched in your minds. Humor is portrayed through simple, everyday occurrences around us, and Kukunoor’s batch of hilarious multi-dimensional characters (Varun’s parents, Sanjeev, his friends, Seema, Shashi Aunty) execute them to a response of rip-roaring laughter. Vikram Inamdar as Sanjeev is the film’s real comic hero, who is quite unselfishly given some of the film’s best scenes by Kukunoor. As usual, the director keeps his characters real and down-to-earth, and painstakingly extracts humor out of the most serious of situations. This quality is effectively brought forth with the spontaneity that he nurtures in his ensemble cast.

Apart from its emotional and comic strength, “HB2” also scores with the continuation of its cultural strength. The Hyderabadi lingo, the authentic Telegu dialogues, and the subtle nuances that Kukunoor imbeds to capture the aura of his “sleepy city” adds to his relaxed, and homely storytelling style. Yet again, this man proves that he doesn’t need to succumb to any sort of formula, or box office pressure to make a quality, feel-good film. Simple and clear, this is a movie that has its heart at just the right place, which is why yet again, it strikes a chord with its audience. How else could you explain a crowd in an Indian movie theater, reluctant to leave at the end, and actually waiting till all the end credits have rolled out? Part 3 please Mr. Kukunoor!

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