Jannat 2 is another Bollywood non-sequel sequel. Emraan Hashmi returns to play a different character than the one he played in 2008’s Jannat (“Heaven”), and neither of the storylines intersects in any way. With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Jannat 2 is not entirely successful.
This time, Hashmi plays Sonu, a low-level gun dealer eager to leave his life of crime after he meets a beautiful doctor named Jaanvi (Esha Gupta). But Sonu is hounded by Pratap (Randeep Hooda), a detective determined to end the Delhi gun trade for good. Pratap blackmails Sonu into helping him track down Mangal Singh Tomar (Manish Chaudhary), the head of the illegal gun manufacturing business. Pratap promises to set Sonu free once Mangal is behind bars, assuming that Sonu survives.
Hashmi and Hooda are skilled at playing unsavory heroes, and they give strong performances in Jannat 2. Hashmi is effective at conveying the desperation of Sonu’s situation: twitchy and frantic while deceiving Mangal as Pratap’s informant, wide-eyed and hopeful when he’s with Jaanvi.
Hooda likewise plays Pratap as a man who’s barely holding things together, but driven by a mission. Pratap is cool and composed when he’s intimidating Sonu, but he privately turns to alcohol to dull the memories of his wife’s murder. Only his sidekick, Dadda (Brijendra Kala), really understands the amount of pain Pratap is in, and Kala imbues Dadda with much sadness and sympathy.
Sonu has a sidekick of his own, Balli (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub), who admits to being the more cowardly of the duo. He becomes more desperate throughout the movie, as he sees his friend pulling away from him and toward Jaanvi. Balli practically begs Sonu not to leave him, reminding Sonu that he will always be a crook and not the kind of stand-up guy Jaanvi deserves. Ayyub’s performance is another highlight of the film.
As much attention as Jaanvi is given as the impetus for Sonu’s change, Jannat 2 is really about the relationships between men: Sonu and Balli; Pratap and Dadda; and, most importantly, Sonu and Pratap. Jaanvi isn’t in the scene most critical to Sonu’s character growth, but Pratap is.
In fact, there’s not much for Jaanvi to do except stare blankly into the distance, looking pretty. Gupta gets a pass for failing to animate Jaanvi in her debut role, especially since the character is let down by poor writing.
For a doctor, Jaanvi is not very bright. Sonu spends the whole film lying to her that he runs a textile shop, and Jaanvi is never suspicious, despite never having actually seen his shop. The day after Sonu is released from a five-month incarceration — which he is up front about — he donates a large sum of money to Jaanvi’s hospital. Doesn’t she wonder how this guy was able to come up with so much money on short notice the day after getting out of the clink? (He earned it by selling booze illegally.) Doesn’t she wonder why he never introduces her to his family or friends, even as they discuss marriage?
A further knock against Jaanvi is that she’s mean to Sonu. When he seeks treatment for a hand wound at her hospital, she squeezes his injured hand in retaliation for getting fresh with her. She’s disdainful of him until he gives he donates his ill-gotten gains to her hospital, and then a song sequence convinces her that she’s in love. There’s no reason for Sonu to fall for a jerk like Jaanvi, apart from the fact that she’s pretty.
The writing throughout is film’s weakest aspect, beyond Jaanvi’s complete unlikability. Plot twists are predictable but not logical or inevitable. There’s no sense of the flow of time. Watch Jannat 2 for the performances by the leading men and their sidekicks, but don’t expect much from the story.