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Javed Sheikh as Gul Nawaz, Mahmood Aslam, Shafqat Cheema and others
Javed Sheikh as Gul Nawaz, Mahmood Aslam, Shafqat Cheema and others

Mehboob (Yasir Nawaz) is a good man caught up in a world of trouble. He has an unsympathetic boss, his daughter suffers from a deadly disease, and he can’t seem to dump the five million rupees he has in a black plastic bag.

Woe is he. Really.

Mehboob’s misfortunes begin with a girl named Zoya (Neelum Muneer) — the second heroine with this name this Eidul Fitr — who is rebelling against her rich daddy to marry the man of her dreams. On-screen Zoyas seem to have a strong will to rebel, I think — remember Marina Khan in Dhoop Kinaray?

This comedy of errors starts when Mehboob is mistaken as Zoya’s boyfriend. After being beaten to a pulp, Zoya’s daddy (Javed Sheikh), a political hopeful, forcibly shoves a stack of money in Mehboob’s hands so that he leaves his daughter for good.

While crass humour still pops up from time to time in the determinedly light-hearted Wrong No. 2, the film is also director Yasir Nawaz’s first, genuinely engaging, family movie

You’d think that would be the end of Mehboob’s troubles. Heck no.

Yasir Nawaz’s Wrong No. 2 — produced by Nawaz, Hasan Zia and Amjad Rasheed — is a mad rush. The plot constantly cartwheels from one ludicrous ‘Wrong No.’ to another, putting Mehboob dead-centre in a series of confusions.

While Nawaz’s character may seem like an important lynchpin in the narrative, Wrong No. 2’s biggest and brightest assets are Javed Sheikh and Mehmood Aslam.

Sheikh plays the naïve politician Gul Nawaz, who knows nothing about governance or economy — a fact one television reporter exploits with glee, time and again. Aslam is Wazer Ali, his loyal advisor, whose son Umer (Sami Khan), unknown to both men, is Zoya’s spineless, class-conscious boyfriend. Also of minor note is Sexy Shaukat (Danish Nawaz), a local pervert who had been obsessing over Zoya from the beginning of the film.

Nawaz, who has written the screenplay from a story by Danish Nawaz, uses every twist in the book to keep the situations from drying up. While the Nawaz bros.’ brand of crass humour still pops up from time to time (I would have definitely killed some scenes on the editing table), the sheer number of screw-ups, two well-placed songs from Indian composer Simaab Sen, and the over-lit cinematography by Naeem Mustafa (which happens to be a norm for romantic comedies), are enough to keep one’s attention away from questioning the logic of the enterprise.

To be honest, given Wrong No. 2’s mood and tone, the questions don’t matter; it’s a screwball farce with clear-cut aspirations. The end-goal is to be as lighthearted and idiotic as possible, without rubbing anyone the wrong way.

Yasir Nawaz’s Wrong No. 2 is a mad rush. The plot constantly cartwheels from one ludicrous ‘Wrong No.’ to another, putting Mehboob dead-centre in a series of confusions.

Still, Wrong No. 2, has its own set of shortcomings. The situations Nawaz uses to peg the story’s emotions start and end with his character — and they are ridden with done-to-death clichés.

Mehboob has a sensible, good-hearted wife at home (Sana Fakhar), who never questions her husband’s whereabouts, or the ordeal he seems to be going through. Serious matters, such as curing Mehboob’s daughter or the villains’ introduction (Shafqat Cheema and Ahmed Hasan), are secondary concerns.

In fact, as in Chhalawa, the other Eid release, the villains are as irrelevant as the film’s leading man — who, you would have forgotten, is Sami Khan.

Unpredictably, Nawaz somehow manages to give every character their due spotlight — no matter how small that spotlight may be. Muneer, Fakhar, Danish Nawaz, even late inclusions such as Cheema and Hasan, are necessary and negligible at the same time. They come and go without disrupting the lighthearted flow of the film. And honestly, you don’t notice anyone but Javed Sheikh and Mehmood Aslam, so why bother.

The only character who doesn’t stand out is Mehboob, whose meek simplemindedness is directly proportional to the scope of Nawaz’s own on-screen performance. Unwisely, Nawaz dumbs down Mehboob to an astonishing degree, removing what could have been genuinely stirring moments in a comedy teeming with lunacy.

Now don’t get this wrong — Wrong No. 2 isn’t as madcap as JPNA 2. What it is, is Nawaz’s first, genuinely engaging, family movie. That’s a step up, if you ask me.

Published in Dawn, ICON, June 9th, 2019