Film Review: Jannat 2

A petty crook falls in love with a doctor in a clinic for the poor with tragic results in this slow-paced, far-fetched thriller.

Love and crime don't mix in Jannat 2, a sequel to a 2008 Indian drama with a similar theme. A sturdy enough vehicle for Bollywood star Emraan Hashmi, the film opened to big business in India despite muted reviews. Viewers here will be less forgiving of the film's heavy-handed directing and unfocused writing.

Hashmi plays Sonu Dilli, an ambitious con man whose morals keep getting in the way of his success as a gun-runner. When he meets Jhanvi Tomar (former Miss India International Esha Gupta) in a medical clinic, Sonu vows to go straight. But suicidal cop Pratap Raghuvanshi (Randeep Hooda) forces Sonu to become an informant in an attempt to break up a major arms ring.

Once the basic narrative elements are in place, Jannat 2 doesn't have anywhere to go. Sonu wins Jhanvi's heart but disappoints her over and over again because he can't tell her the truth about his past. When he isn't ordering Sonu to return to crime, Pratap repeatedly drinks himself into a stupor, heartsick because his wife was killed with an illegal handgun. A big plot twist saved for the last act can be seen coming a mile away.

Hashmi's boyish demeanor helps with his character's romantic efforts, but makes him less than ideal as a hard-bitten gun dealer. Hooda is more convincing as a cop on the edge, although he brings little nuance to the role. Beauty queen Gupta is stunning, but displays limited acting skill.

Director Kunal Deshmukh also worked with Hashmi on the first Jannat (or "Heaven"), which like this film traced the rise and fall of a two-bit gangster who must choose between good and evil. The informant angle adds a lot to Jannat 2, even if much of it was lifted from the Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs. When the time comes, Deshmukh pushes the right emotional buttons, highlighting the despair in each of the three leads. But the director has trouble with more basic material. Characters are inconsistent from moment to moment, and several scenes are too arbitrary and improbable.

Cinematographer Bobby Singh does a good job capturing the turbulent streets of Dehli, and Jannat 2 has a couple of exciting chases through bazaars and alleys. A handful of strong tunes by Pritam help break up the monotony of a story that is too clearly spinning its wheels for too much of the movie.