By Priyanka Khanna, Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) The wait is finally over. The good-hearted goon -- Munnabhai, who made us guffaw as well as ponder over ills ailing the practice of medicine -- returns to the marquees Sep 1.
The first part, "Munnabhai M.B.B.S", was released with no fanfare whatsoever in the winter of 2003. But it had gone on to become the sleeper blockbuster of the year in addition to setting higher standards for Indian cinema to follow. In fact, "Munnabhai M.B.B.S" has the unique distinction of being made into a Hollywood film by 20th Century Fox.
Actor Sanjay Dutt as Murli Prasad Sharma aka Munnabhai or Munna supported by Arshad Warsi as the inimitable Circuit will be seen again in "Lage Raho Munna Bhai", a movie that is expected to witness a bumper opening.
The much-awaited new chapter in life of the much-loved Munna is attracting mounting enquiries for block bookings weeks before cinema halls open the window for advance booking.
News reports say the Fame multiplex in Andheri, Mumbai, has already got the first 13 shows houseful on account of bookings through Internet and Short Message Services (SMS).
Expectations from the film by the writer-producer-director team of Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Rajkumar Hirani are sky-high to say the least, according to all trade indicators.
In the sequel, Munna, who confronts every situation with his unique street-wise attitude and humour, goes on an unexpected historical tour that brings him face-to-face with teachings of Mahatma Gandhi.
Much like this year's blockbuster -- "Rang De Basanti" -- the filmmakers are apparently trying to establish that the Father of the Nation and his ideals continue to have relevance in today's time.
Once again Arshad is Munna's trusted handyman who fixes everything for him, including his love life.
Among the changes, Boman Irani, who had entertained all as Dr. J. Asthana in the original, returns in a new avatar in part two. Ditto for Jimmy Shergill.
And Vidya Balan replaces Gracy Singh, who was Munna's love interest in the original. Dia Mirza is the other new addition and Abhishek Bachchan is rumoured to have put in a special appearance as her screen husband.
In take two Munna falls in love with the voice of popular Radio Jockey Jhanvi, played by Vidya. Complications arise when Jhanvi mistakes our good-hearted goon for a professor of history and forces him to give a lecture to her family.
As Munna tries to sort out this 'minor' entanglement in his otherwise perfect life, Circuit comes up with a bright solution. And then, the most unusual thing occurs in Munna's life including an interface with Gandhi.
Shantanu Moitra's score for "Lage Raho Munna Bhai" is nothing to write home about. But it is very likely it picks up once its situation or scenario is more obvious, once the film hits the theatre.
Unlike the original in which the novel characterisations were the best part of the film, the sequel has to deal with the fact that it has little surprises to offer.
Meeting expectations from the film to entertain as much as the original including delivering a social message will be doubly difficult for the film. Here is the hope Munna gets it right second time around, especially, because talks are already underway for part three.
Vidya Balan is being touted as the big surprise package in "Lage Raho Munna Bhai". The newcomer, who made quite an impression in her debut Hindi film "Parineeta", essays the role of a Radio Jockey - Jhanvi - in the sequel to "Munnabhai M.B.B.S".
"The film is not just a comedy. It's about life. It's about a subject that everybody will connect to. There is a lot of substance," Vidya was quoted as saying about the much-awaited comic caper.
A lot of energy flows through the film and that, she says, is because of the "energetic character of Raju Hirani".
"Jahnvi is today's girl and the clothes complement my looks," said Vidya.
Having won almost all the best debutant awards for "Parineeta", Vidya's kitty is full. She has Vidhu Vinod Chopra's "Eklavya", Nikhil Advani's "Salaam-e-Ishq", Rajkumar Santoshi's "Halla Bol" and Mani Ratnam's "Guru" in hand.
Bengali cinema where she had made her silver screen debut sure must be missing her.
If "Lage Raho Munna Bhai" is even half the success that the original was, she will be on her way to clinch an enviable title of being commercially successful and critically acclaimed. Given that female actors have to wait decades before they can even remotely claim to be both, she sure has lady luck on her side.
Trade reports predict that the average box-office returns for "Aap Ki Khatir" that released Friday has cleared the path for bumper opening for the next big release. The film starring Akshaye Khanna, Priyanka Chopra and Ameesha Patel is apparently a mish-mash of Hollywood fables.
The film is about a single woman who wants to make her ex-fiance jealous. It definitely draws from "The Wedding Date" starring Debra Messing, Dermot Mulroney with smatterings from "My Big Fat Greek Weeding".
Director Dharmesh Darshan who re-packaged "Jab Jab Phool Khile" as "Raja Hindustani", "Caravan" as "Mela" and "Gumraah" as "Bewafaa" has gone international this time in search of inspiration.
Akshaye, who is perhaps the most underrated actor in the industry, is the best part about the film. Here is man waiting for a role like "Munnabhai" to finally arrive. But then again, aren't they all!
What do you think of "Lage Raho Munna Bhai" ? Will it be a hit? Comment below!