What’s a holiday without emotional baggage? Since the question worked wonderfully for Jhimma in 2021, the sequel sets out to prove yet again that vacationing women never travel light.
Hemant Dhome’s Marathi-language Jhimma 2 has been released in cinemas with English subtitles. Once-bitten-never-shy tour operator Kabir (Siddharth Chandekar) has herded together most his chatterbox clients for a new trip to England’s Lake District. Kabir goes about his assignment with the resigned air of a career masochist.
The occasion is the 75th birthday of Indu (Suhas Joshi), being celebrated at a bed-and-breakfast rental run by Krutika (Sayali Sanjeev). Vaishali (Suchitra Bandekar) has arrived with her niece Manali (Shivani Surve).
Meeta (Kshitee Jog) is slowly moving on from her husband’s death. Fortunately for the group and for this movie, the adorable bumbler Nirmala (Nirmiti Sawant) has returned. Not only does Nirmala continue to have the support of her laconic minister husband Saheb (Anant Jog), but she has also brought along her smart daughter-in-law Tanya (Rinku Rajguru).
Tanya is a bit too affable for the perennially awkward Nirmala. The dynamic between these two women, and Nirmiti Sawant’s skill at playing the brightly attired fish out of water, supply Jhimma 2 with numerous laughs.
Irawati Karnik, who also wrote the previous film, has a gift for creating female characters who are far from being composed, syrupy-sweet and docile. The tourists of Jhimma 2, like its predecessor, are the kind of quarrelsome, rebellious and complicated women you rarely see in the movies (but meet all the time in the real world).
Jhimma deftly laid out its Battle of Estrogen, with competing temperaments settling into the understanding that women share emotional experiences despite their differences. In Jhimma 2, the device doesn’t work to the same degree of success.
With the women having declared their lifelong friendship with one another, some of the spats seem like contrived throwbacks, while other arguments exist only to lob yet another instantly memeable snark bomb. The women have the best lines in Jhimma 2, even if the reasons for their continued truculence isn’t always clear.
If Indu, in confronting the ravages of age, frequently loses her cool, Vaishali is cross with Manali’s secretive ways. Krutika has a trumped-up problem only because she must.
Nirmala is the happy puppy in the litter, skipping about without a care in the world and embarrassing herself and Tanya. Nirmala’s big moment, where she reveals her hard-earned maturity to Tanya, sadly takes place in private, away from the rest of the group.
If Jhimma inspired this year’s monster Marathi hit Baipan Bhari Deva, the latter production sets up expectations that Jhimma 2 finds hard to meet. Without the organising principle that guided Jhimma – diverse women discover common ground – or Baipan Bhari Deva – six fractious sisters coming together for a cultural ritual – Jhimma 2 staggers from one sequence to the next.
Episodic by design and scattershot by nature, the film is happy to fix Nirmala as the joker, even while making her the ace in the pack. The strongest segments revolve around Nirmala’s hilarious clunkiness, ably backed by Rinku Rajguru’s sharp-witted daughter-in-law.
The emotional heft comes from Indu’s acceptance of her frailties, as well as the melancholic Meeta’s decision about dealing with her dead spouse’s memory. The sequel is more slickly filmed, while retaining its lived-in chemistry between the wonderful actors and its winning reminder that rude, talkative and messy women matter too.