The first movie had its moments, however fleeting. The second one tried to mine humour out of an orangutan and wind-breaking Sumo wrestlers. What way could the third iteration of Yamla Pagla Deewana go but downwards?
The franchise is based on the notion that audiences have an abiding interest in watching Dharmendra and his sons Sunny and Bobby Deol in the same frame. Purely in terms of plot, Yamla Pagla Deewana: Phir Se is not as convoluted as the other films. Puran (Sunny Deol) is a small-time Baba Ramdev-type Ayurvedic revolutionary who cures his patients with a wonder drug that has been passed on through the ages. Even after pharmaceutical magnate Marfatia (Mohan Kapoor) offers vast sums of money, Puran refuses to part with the formula. Puran’s dim-witted brother Kaala (Bobby Deol) is more pliable.
It takes a woman, Cheeku (Kriti Kharbanda), to seduce Kaala, and steal the formula for Marfatia, who promptly patents the medicine and sends Puran a notice. Puran’s irascible tenant Parmar (Dharmendra), who happens to be a lawyer, represents Puran and Kaala in court.
It’s all there in one place: the attempt to sell Bobby Deol as a leading man with comedy skills; the depiction of Sunny Deol as the world’s only Ayurvedic practitioner who can cause tremors by pounding on the ground and stop a truck with his bare hands; community stereotypes about hard-drinking and big-hearted Punjabis and vegetarian and teetotalling Gujaratis (Cheeku and Marfatia are from Gujarat); inside jokes about the resemblance between Parmar and a movie star named Dharmendra.
Written by Dheeraj Rattan (the dialogue is by Bunty Rathore) and directed by Navaniat Singh, Yamla Pagla Deewana: Phire Se takes its place in the pile of sequels that needn’t have bothered. The forced wackiness is spread thinly over 148 minutes, and the poor production values and all-round laziness indicate that nobody in this production was trying too hard. There is far too much of Bobby Deol in the movie; Sunny Deol wears his 61 years on the planet heavily; the sight of an aged Dharmendra hoofing it while speaking in a voice that doesn’t seem to be his own isn’t for the faint-hearted. Where is the miracle Ayurvedic drug for sequelitis?