No one at Excel Entertainment had expected their 2013 release Fukrey to become a cult success. The idea of a sequel too did not emerge immediately. It was only when Fukrey’s characters (Choocha, Bhoji Punjaban, et al) became household names after repeat telecasts on television that its makers decided to give Fukrey Returns a shot. Writer-director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba and his writing partner Vipul Vig set aside all their other ideas and got down to writing Fukrey Returns by the end of 2015. The film will be released on December 8.
Fukrey Returns brings back the Delhi boys – Hunny (Pulkit Samrat), Zafar (Ali Fazal), Lali (Manjot Singh) and the clairvoyant Choocha (Varun Sharma) – in a new setting. Crime queen Bholi Punjaban (Richa Chadha), who had been arrested by the police at the end of the first film thanks to the boys, is out of jail and she means payback. Chaos ensues, which involves among other things, a tiger, and Choocha’s new-found ability to see into the future which he calls “Deja-chu.”
“We did not expect Fukrey to become so loved by the audience,” Lamba said. “We realised that people had begun to love Fukrey’s characters. They would want to know what happened to them next. Fukrey Returns has the same kind of flavour as the first film. Nothing has been forced. It’s a natural extension from Fukrey. We just hope that the audience loves the second film as much as the first.”
The first film, set in Delhi, emerged out of the writers’ experiences as teenagers. Lamba met Vij through actor-writer Manu Rishi Chadha. Their initial idea was to write a film about two boys aspiring to get into college. After brainstorming and several drafts, a slice-of-life story became a comic caper with strong autobiographical elements drawn from Lamba and Vig’s lives.
For instance, the arc of Lali, who studies through correspondence and wants to get into a regular college, is Lamba’s own story. Lamba’s memories of spending time with his brother became a part of the film. Most of the action is set around East Delhi, which is where Vig grew up. Bholi Punjaban is a fictional take on the real-life Sonu Punjaban, the criminal jailed for running a sex racket worth crores. The detail regarding the illegal lottery business that plays a part in both the films, however, came out of research.
Barring Manjot Singh as Lali, the rest of the headliners in Fukrey had to audition for their roles. Casting Choocha, in particular, took a lot of tests until Varun Sharma was finalised. Even Chadha, who had earned critical acclaim the previous year for her work in Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur, had to audition for Bholi Punjaban’s role. All the actors of Fukrey reprise their roles in the new film with few new additions to the cast.
Lamba’s association with Excel Entertainment goes back to 2003, when he worked as an assistant on the Delhi schedule of Farhan Akhtar’s Lakshya (2004). A film school graduate, Lamba worked on advertisements, made short films, and was part of many independent productions in Delhi. The ambition to work on bigger features made him move to Mumbai. He worked on Akhtar’s Don: The Chase Begins Again (2006) as the second assistant director. In 2011, his directorial debut, the comedy, Teen Thay Bhai, opened to lukewarm reviews and was quickly forgotten.
Lamba met Vig soon after. They approached Ritesh Sidhwani, Akhtar’s partner at Excel Entertainment, with a fresh screenplay, and Fukrey was born.
Lamba is content after having delivered the sequel as envisioned. He has not had time to process the feeling of having completed the new film, let alone contemplate working on a third part. “All I can think of now is looking forward to showing Fukrey Returns,” Lamba said. “Now, everything depends on the coming Friday.”