Jhimma 2 (Marathi) is an unadulterated delight

The Marathi pori song sequence in Jhimma 2. Photo: Jio Studios

Following on the lines of Jio Studios’ Mee Vasantrao in 2022 and Baipan Bhaari Deva earlier this year, Jhimma 2, a sequel to the much-acclaimed and award-winning Jhimma, is a sheer delight of a film, completing a trio of their films that use humor to tell an uplifting story of human relationships and emotions against a specific backdrop: Mee Vasantrao was a biopic of a legend in music, Baipan… revolved around the traditional Mangalagaur dance competition and six warring sisters, while Jhimma 2 is just a fun ride between individuals of varying ages and backgrounds who are thick friends.

In a way, Jhimma (released in 2021) was the pioneering film in this respect, and as far as ensemble casting is concerned, preceded Baipan…as well. Not having watched the original (I intend to do so now!), most of my media co-watchers opined that this was one of the rare Marathi sequels that bettered that memorable first film by leagues. Good!

In this film, the same friends of various origins come together under the stewardship of Kabir (Siddharth Chandekar) to visit UK yet again, this time to celebrate the 75th birthday of Indu (Suhas Joshi). While some characters from the prequel are missing, the newer ones include Nirmala (Nirmiti Sawant)’s daughter-in-law, Taniya (Rinku Rajguru) and Vaishali (Suchitra Bandekar, in common with Baipan… as well)’s paternal niece, Manali (Shivani Surve).

There is no story as such, but just a heartfelt and, above all, fun-filled look at their individual lives and times together. They are residing in a kind of home-stay, which has been started by Krutika (Sayali Sanjeev) and her British husband (Jack McGinn). The trouble is that Krutika’s mom-in-law (Orla Cottingham) is upset as they have kept this a secret from her, because, for her, the house is suffused with her late husband’s memories in every nook and cranny.

Manali has a traumatic past in more than one sense and prefers to be a loner, while Indu has been diagnosed with Parkinson’sDisease and cannot imagine life later as a cripple. Nirmala and Taniya have an on-off relationship, but both are very fond of each other and hope that the two of them will have an even better bond. Kabir himself has adjusted reluctantly to his personal issues of loneliness. The widowed Meeta (Kshitee Jog, Ranveer Singh’s mom in Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani and also co-producer of the Jhimma franchise) is torn between listening to her daughter who wants her to have a companion again (‘Not a father for me!” as she puts it with maturity beyond her years) and her loneliness.

All these sagas have been movingly incorporated in the 137-minute length and at no moment does one feel restless, bored or anything but elevated in joy and anticipation as the movie proceeds smoothly to a very unique climax that finishes  a lot of the implied things in the script with a host of phone SMS’es between the various characters.

The Jhimma 2 gang. Photo: Jio Studios

Laced with terrific scenic locations of Britain, small but penetratingly perceptive glimpses (and not critical ones) into differences and similarities in Indian and British culture, the film is adorned with upscale technical values. Aditya Bedekar’s background score is brilliantly fresh and imaginative, while Amitraj’s music and especially Kshitij Patwardhan’s meaningful lyrics further lift the film, especially Marathi pori.

The histrionic honors are shared best by Shalini Surve as Manali, Rinku Rajguru as Tanya, Suhas Joshi as Indu and Gandhar Babre in his brief cameo as Ankush in that order. Anant Jog and especially Siddharth Chandekar, are their usual effective selves, but the show is actually stolen by the colossal Nirmiti Sawant as Nirmala. Nirmiti is simply fabulous as the overweight Nirmala, and is at her best in the ‘ghost’ sequence that has to be watched rather than described.

The small directorial touches are superb, like Kabir’s one-sided falling for Manali and his reactions when she is unwell or Meeta’s meaningful one-line reminder to Manali about a truism even as she battles her own demons. I also loved the scene between Taniya and Nirmala where the daughter-in-law drills sense into the angry Nirmala’s head.

Progressiveness is the keyword in this beautiful film (with English subtitles, sensibly replaced by Marathi whenever the conversation is in English). Moving on, guiltlessly seeking companionship, forgetting complexes and the troubles of the past, and looking positively at life are the homilies that abound in this gem.

All in all, for me, Hemant Dhome and team (as billed in the last frame of the film, in Rohit Shetty style) show us graphically and even incisively where and how Hindi mainstream cinema is going wrong. Soul and substance can never be replaced by glitter and vacuous content, human relationships can never be trivialized in a Western way just for Gen-Zee or a perceived global response, and excellence in situational songs can never be forfeited for gimmicky noises masquerading as social media hits. Above all, so far as that is concerned, it is Aanand L. Rai who has to learn the maximum lessons from this near-masterpiece of a ‘feel-good’ cinema.

Rating: ****1/2

Jio Studios, Chalchitra Mandalee’s, Colour Yellow Productions’ & Crazy Few Films’ Jhimma 2  Produced by: Jyoti Deshpande, Aanand L. Rai & Kshitee Jog  Directed by: Hemant Dhome  Written by: Hemant Dhome & Irawati Karnik  Music: Amitraj  Starring: Rinku Rajguru, Shivani Surve, Siddharth Chandekar, Suchitra Bandekar, Nirmiti Sawant, Kshitee Jog, Suhas Joshi, Sayali Sanjeev, Anant Jog, Gandhar Babre, Jack McGinn, Orla Cottingham & others




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