Jia Venkatram and Jia Garewal set off for a shared trip to Sweden. One drinks too much and smokes too much and generally behaves like the worst kind of tourist, and the other is more organised (you think) but then she too becomes the weird tourist. One Jia wants to die and the other is dying and before you come to the ‘Babumoshai’ moment you loved in Anand (Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan), you have plotted their demise several times over.
The film claims boldly that it has been made in collaboration with Sweden and you begin to list out some of the wonderful Swedish films that were released in the last ten years: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Everlasting Moments, Eat Sleep Die and so on…
What we see though is so ghastly you hope they never release it in Sweden. Indian and Swedish masters of cinema would die twice out of shame.
Jia Venkatram has insufficient funds for a single person’s trip to Sweden so she clicks on a share the trip option. She discovers that Jia Garewal is her travel partner.
Jia Venkatram (Richa Chaddha) is organised and sober, and Jia Garewal is shown to be free spirited and happy go lucky. So Jia Venkatram is shown to be packing woollens meticulously (as you’d think you would need in Sweden) but Jia Garewal (Kalki Koechlin) is shown throwing flimsy clothes on her bed, stuffing them into a backpack, all the while dancing to show how ‘free spirited’ she is. Of course she tries out hats in front of the mirror making kissy faces, waves bras about as if she just discovered them (Oooh! How emancipated! The film-maker showed underthings in Hindi cinema!). And just when you wonder how old she is supposed to be, she spits out everything from her mouth out of the window while brushing her teeth. Ugh!
The two land up on a flight where Jia Garewal wangles an upgrade in the stupidest manner. Why does she not stop talking, you wonder? Thankfully we are spared of her drinking her guts out. That is reserved for later.
Sweden the land of bridges and islands and Aurora Borealis and ABBA is shown so tackily you know it is stock footage from some tourism video which has nothing to do with the story itself.
They have to drive through Sweden (why? You might ask?), and then why drive a camper if they’re going to stay in motels? Shouldn’t they rent a car like everyone else?
You wish someone would drop a piano on Jia Garewal’s head because of the non-stop chatter, and run over Jia Venkatram because she sulks so much. Just when you think their makeup and clothes are beyond help, and simply atrocious there arrives a ghastlier character on the scene: a drunk lad whose name is Vasu Krishna Bergman.
No! You silently scream into the darkness of the theatre. Bergman! Bergman? Why would you name an unkempt morose, drunk lad who says he’s the no-good son of a rich dad, Bergman? The dead filmmaker would roll over in his grave had he known his name would come to this.
So Vasu is played by someone called Arsalan Goni and he’s unforgettable because he’s a terrible actor. The two Jias and this lad sing some forgettable song on what is called the Vodka Island. Oh, Jia Venkatram we know by now is plagued by flashbacks of ruining her father’s business empire and wants to kill herself. And Jia Garewal wants to live it up before she too dies of liver cancer. By this time you wish your were dead several times. And the film is only 92 minutes long.
If death is what both wanted, shouldn’t they have chosen the picturesque Panchgani (that one shot of the small hill town in India is shot brilliantly as compared with all the shots of Sweden) instead? Cheaper by far!
Soon Jia Garewal and Vasu Bergman are shown making out in towels, and decide to get married. While returning from the church where Jia Venkatram murders the Dev Anand-Asha Parekh song , ‘Jia o, Jia o jiya kuch bol do’ on the church piano, Jia Garewal falls faint. She is going to die of cancer. Jia Venkatram runs out, (she is shown signing up of organ donation in a quick flashback), purchases a lethal injection from the local medical store and injects it so her liver can be ‘Fitted’ (their words, not mine) in Jia Garewal and she can live happily ever after with Vasu Bergman. Jia Garewal wants to live and Jia Venkatram has nothing to live for. You watch with horror as they utterly disregard logic and show us the 2017 version of Anand’s famous ‘Babumoshai’ speech… By the time the credits roll, you have thrown all the popcorn at the screen and are ready to murder the people who resurrected this film from the cans (it was shot four years ago and did not find a release!) to vomit it all across our screens.
(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com )