When I watched Fukrey, the juvenile comedy that did well enough commercially to spawn the idea of a sequel, I wasn’t familiar with the definition of the title. Four years on, the usage of the slang has not (fortunately) spread far beyond Delhi. Director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba’s story picks up one year after the last film. Three of the friends, Hunny (Pulkit Samrat), Choocha (Varun Sharma) and Lali (Manjot Singh), are now in college. Zafar (Ali Fazal) is making a life with his music and girlfriend and Pandit (Pankaj Tripathi), the college watchman, is now an intrinsic part of their jugadoo gang.

By now, Hunny is a champion at interpreting Choocha’s strange dreams in his unique way to throw up winning numbers in the lottery. This is their jam: it’s a small, but comfortably lucrative scam. But when Bholi Punjaban (Richa Chadha) plays her own hand to snag a get-out-of-jail card, she first locates and entraps the infamous five.

Theoretically, a sequel offers up the opportunity to fix the flaws of part one and strengthen the story. In reality, this is unlikely to happen when your source material was unworthy of a follow up. So, once more Lamba starts of steadily but squanders his advantage in the second half. An already-incomprehensible plot becomes even more absurd – there is a closed-down zoo, tigers in captivity, a spa (you read that right), caves, hidden treasure, organ traders, the return of Bholi’s African henchmen and dispensable female characters (played by Priya Anand and Vishakha Singh) who only clutter an already-crowded and senseless scene.

With the baddie being a corrupt politician, Bholi’s zing has been diluted – she’s not as intimidating and her animal print onesies and hoodies remain the most interesting part of her compromised character. Chadha seems unable to get a bite into this Bholi. Rounding off an already-stellar year, Tripathi is terrific and impactful and the only character who I would like to see more of. Manjot Singh and Ali Fazal try to dial down their performances, but just appear as flummoxed as I was watching the convoluted action unfolding on screen. Samrat and Sharma get maximum screen time, with the latter being the centrepiece as the intellectually challenged butt of the joke. His antics are only cute for so long before you want to clip him around the head and exclaim WTFukrey!

Fukrey Returns (2017).