We Nepalis just love sequels, don’t we? At least our filmmakers seem to think so. Because for almost every Nepali movie that has made an inkling of profit in the past few years, there’s been (or have been) sequel/s. There’s one particular thematically romantic Nepali movie which is set to reach the half-dozen milestone in sequels.
Not that we’re complaining, but when you just put in numbers after names and repeat the same motif film after film, your lack of ingenuity starts to bore the audience, and the credibility you earned from the first film is overshadowed. Only a limited few can become Francis Ford Coppola and dish one after another “Godfather”—but even so the latter films got their fair share of criticism.
So, our YouTube selection for the week “Jatrai Jatra” (2019), a remake of the 2016 hit film “Jatra”, falls under the category of sequels gone bad. The original Jatra was a well written, well executed heist comedy that left the audience in fits of laughter in theaters and later at home via YouTube. It was an original movie with a rather unoriginal plot but with so much imagination put into it that the audience couldn’t exactly put a finger on what was wrong with the film. But the sequel—Jatrai Jatra—although staying true to its comic spirit and attempting to recreate the hilarity of the first, tarnishes its legacy.
Our lead trio—Fanindra (Bipin Karki), Munna (Rabindra Jha) and Joyes (Rabindra Singh Baniya)—are released from jail three years after their Rs 30-million incident in the first part. Having learnt a valuable lesson, they try to resurrect their lives but find themselves in shambles. The trio, united by greed and opportunity, thus part ways to try and live a normal life and get back what they have lost.
But fate has other plans. After trying a host of other jobs, when Fanindra finally ends up as a taxi driver for Taxi Sahu (Rajaram Paudel), a mishap involving his passenger for the day, Dawa (Daya Hang Rai), leaves him in possession of 10 kilos of gold. Once bitten twice shy, Fanindra wants to get rid of the gold but then his greed and the recollection of his financial and family situation gets the better of him. He decides to keep the gold and thus begins another set of comedy of errors that entrench his friends, family and a bunch of goons.
Written and directed by Pradip Bhattarai, Jatrai Jatra banks on the acting skills of its three lead characters and makes them run through confusing situations and conflicting moments to recreate the chaotic coherence presented by Jatra. But coherent, this movie is definitely not. Jatrai Jatrai feels like the makers hurried a bit too much to recreate the success of the original Jatra and in doing so, left too many loose ends
My biggest complaint with the movie is regarding how the continuity breaks and lapses, which could have been easily avoided, passed the final cut. How could a bunch of industry veterans make so many novice errors unless they were deliberate, which is clearly not the case. It feels like the makers got so cocky with the success of Jatra, they forgot that the audience should not be taken for granted.
Acting-wise, there’s not much to complain about. The trio of Karki, Jha and Baniya recreate the roles of simpletons-turned-criminals with the same sincerity. One noticeable change is that their characters have become more cunning after the jail term and it reflects in their acting. How we wish filmmakers showed more conviction to character development and not just let their principal characters enact the same tomfoolery even after so much experience. This is the problem with Nepali sequels. Once they’ve established a character, they never let them grow, which with time gets boring and repetitive.
Who should watch it?
The harsh criticism of Jatrai Jatra is the result of its comparison to the original. As a stand-alone movie, it is definitely more entertaining than most films released around the same time. Much more entertaining than let’s say 70 percent Nepali movies we’ve reviewed so far. If you like Nepali comedy movies, there's a high possibility you will enjoy Jatrai Jatra.