‘Wild Wild Punjab’ movie review: Puerile buddy comedy is not wild enough

The Netflix film starring Varun Sharma, Sunny Singh and others is a blur of ham-fisted hi-jinks and inane humour

Updated - July 14, 2024 03:24 pm IST

Published - July 11, 2024 11:23 am IST

A still from ‘Wild Wild Punjab’

A still from ‘Wild Wild Punjab’

It was evident, even before Varun Sharma clambered onto the roof of a car, unfastened his fly and shot out a tall projectile of piss, that Wild Wild Punjab was not a serious film. But is it even that wild? The aforementioned scene is probably the looniest thing that happens — a nod, perhaps, to Fukrey 3, which had an entire pee-based plotline dedicated to Sharma. The rest of Simarpreet Singh’s film is oddly strained and docile, a blur of ham-fisted hi-jinks and inane one-liners. “Respect, dude,” someone tells Sharma’s character, a compliment I cannot extend to the film.

Khanna (Sharma) is reeling from a breakup, his girlfriend having grazed off for greener pastures... who could blame her? Khanna’s buddies — Maan (Sunny Singh), Gaurav (Jassie Gill) and Honey (Manjot Singh) — rustle up a plan to drag him out of his misery. They will ride down from Patiala to Pathankot, gatecrash the wedding of his ex (Asheema Vardaan), and let Khanna say his piece. None of which, of course, goes exactly to plan, as the quartet gets into manic misadventures motoring down the Punjab countryside.

Wild Wild Punjab (Hindi)
Director: Simarpreet Singh
Cast: Varun Sharma, Sunny Singh, Jassie Gill, Manjot Singh, Patralekhaa, Ishita Raj Sharma
Run-time: 110 minutes
Storyline: Three friends help a fourth bounce back from a breakup by embarking on a road trip across Punjab

Throughout, writers Sandeep Jain and Harman Wadala—fleshing out a story by Luv Ranjan—traffic in the lowest of cultural stereotypes. The Punjabis in Wild Wild Punjab come across as trigger-happy buffoons, boisterous revelers who siphon alcohol from barrels and have a finicky attachment to their wheels. The disparate problems of the state—drug abuse, suicide, gangsterism, illegal emigration—become puerile punchlines. Honey registers as a mustachioed caricature of a gold-hearted Sardar, his benignancy touched off by a woman in distress calling him ‘Veer-ji’. There is interest, somewhere at the juvenile heart of this film, in examining the dowry problem in Punjab. But all that is undone by lines like, “I’ll slap her...I don’t discriminate between boy and girl,” or everyone referring to Khanna’s ex as ‘veshya’ (real name: Vaishali).

It is an act of heroic restraint, really, that Pulkit Samrat and Ali Fazal from the Fukrey franchise do not make cameos in this film. Sharma, slurry and shit-faced through most of the runtime, taking a belated bullet in his rear end, is barely distinguishable from any of his past roles. Sunny Singh looks more relaxed than he did in Adipurush, having traded the bows and arrows for a buzzcut and piercings. For a buddy comedy, the film never convincingly establishes the dynamics of the group. “There’s a difference between a Sufi and a gold digger,” Maan declares vis-a-vis Vaishali, yet we also learn that he mooches off his best friends.

Wild Wild Punjab runs low on horsepower and horseplay. Simarpreet, a debutant director, struggles to choreograph the levels of comedic chaos he clearly aspires to: a chase involving a psychedelic truck, an SUV, a scooter and a police van fizzles out without punch. Near the climax, a bottle of illegal pills is unloaded into chicken feed, yet nothing comes of this promising setup. This isn’t a Hangover movie, we’re told, which struck me as less a quip than a frank admission of defeat.

Wild Wild Punjab is streaming on Netflix

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