Filmmaker Mudassar Aziz’s Happy Phir Bhaag Jayegi humanizes the traditional enemy the Chinese at a time when temperatures at the border are running high.
Mudassar is no stranger to building bridges through his cinema. In Happy Bhaag Jayegi which released in 2016, Mudassar had built the comedy around Indo-Pak amity, for which he faced ferocious flak.
Not that he cared. “To me, it is important that with Happy Bhaag Jayegi I found my cinematic voice as a director.”
Mudassar admits he had been floundering in his earlier films. “ I was doing what was asked of me, not what I wanted to do. With Happy Bhag Jayegi I found my voice. And if that voice propounded peace with Pakistan I’m happy. And now with the sequel, I’ve made another clean comedy that doesn’t demonize our neighbour. We need more efforts at creating harmony in the universe.”
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That the sequel has gone to India’s other traditional enemy country is just coincidence. “We didn’t plan yet another peace treaty through our cinema. That China is considered a threat to India did strike us. But for us, China was an unexplored location. Not too many films had gone there.”
Mudassar reveals that they couldn’t shoot the entire film in China. “We shot whatever was essential and the rest was done in Kuala Lampur which we cheat-depicted as China in our film.”
The director sees his cinema as a weapon of peace. “We are constantly making films about terror and terrorism naming Pakistan as the traditional enemy. But there is a lot more to Pakistan and China than war and aggression. We share such a long and eventful history with both countries. I wish audiences would take away some of the smiles from the Chinese excursion in Happy Phir Bhag Jayegi just as they done with Pakistan in the earlier film. We really have to stop talking of war. And begin exploring peace in cinema.”
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Mudassar is happy with his team. “All the actors have given so much to the two ‘Happy’ films. Jassie Gill is such a major star in Punjab. He joined our ensemble cast in Happy Phir Bhag Jayegi and added so much to the plot. We used Chinese actors to play the Chinese. We didn’t want the film to look inauthentic.”