In Wrong No 2, Zoya (Neelum Muneer) is the rebellious only daughter of a wealthy industrialist Gul Nawaz (Javed Sheikh) who hopes to realise his political ambitions by arranging her marriage to an influential Chaudhry Sahab’s son (Hassan Ahmed).
However, Zoya has her heart set on Omar (Sami Khan), the son of her father’s personal assistant Wazir Ali (Mehmood Aslam). Since Omar is a “poor man’s son”, and thus not marriage material in her father’s eyes, Zoya keeps the identity of her boyfriend a secret. Not even Omar’s father knows that his son is romancing his employer’s daughter.
Gul Nawaz hires detectives to find out who Zoya is dating. Of course, they get the wrong guy. The wrong guy is Mehboob (Yasir Nawaz), a middle-aged paperpusher who is exhausted by his honest hustle to raise funds for his daughter’s expensive medical treatment. When he is paid off to ‘dump’ Zoya, he reluctantly accepts the sum at first as the universe’s way of saving his daughter’s life.
In the meantime, Zoya runs away with her actual loverboy Omar only to be kidnapped by the family of her stalker Shaukat (Danish Nawaz), who is in jail for harassing her. They demand Shaukat's release in exchange for Zoya’s safe return.
An even more circuitous course of events follow, by which this motley crew of characters are able to converge at Gul Nawaz's house and more madness ensues.
Wrong No fans get what they asked for
Yasir Nawaz's Wrong No 2 checks the same boxes as his debut directorial Wrong No — it’s not a sequel but features the same brand of slapstick/occasionally R-rated humour in a plot that similarly relies on multiple mistaken identities and wildly intersecting storylines to keep the audience hooked.
Dance numbers, a half-serious fight sequence and the relatability of a common man's frustrations complete the mix.
Fans of the original Wrong No are likely to enjoy this sequel; those who winced and cringed through the first one may consider this only a slight improvement.
Given its mass appeal, it's not surprising that Wrong No 2 discards sensitivity to more niche issues. The film is entertaining, as long as we can turn a blind eye to its more problematic elements like body shaming jokes and the unabashed sexualisation of women
At the very least, viewers will be tickled by the funnier, less cringe-y moments, which are amply sprinkled throughout the script.
Some casting wins
While the lead couple Neelum Muneer and Sami Khan are adequate in their relatively straight, cookiecutter roles (Neelum as the feisty, rich urban woman, Sami as her earnest, upstanding suitor), it's the delightfully kooky chemistry between their fathers, played by Javed Sheikh and Mehmood Aslam respectively, that unexpectedly sparks the most joy... and rescues the film from playing out as a boring rehash of tired themes such as forbidden romance.
The pair gets some of the best lines of the script and effectively uses them to elicit laughs from even a generally unamused viewer.
Yasir Nawaz and Sana (who plays his wife Masooma) are believable and effective as the hard-pressed couple with the sick child but are overshadowed by the veterans here.
Danish Nawaz ups the slapstick quotient of the film, while Hassan Ahmed as Zoya's drug-addled rival suitor brings some shock value. If nothing else, he keeps things interesting.
There is an audience for dance numbers, who are likely to have enjoyed them; for everyone else, the film could have run about 20 minutes shorter.
More nuance, next time
It's obvious that Wrong No 2 has been made to please the majority. It sympathises with the common man's financial hardship, as it highlights the vulnerability and desperation of Mehboob, a man on a modest wage, in the face of a towering expense.
As much as it reminds viewers of these financially challenging times, the film also consoles them, even if it is by offering the incorruptible Mehboob deliverance from his financial hardship through the unlikeliest of means.
And as the film skewers Javed Sheikh's blind hatred of the poor and allegiance to the rich and exposes the folly of his classist ways, the deserving ‘poor’ score another victory over the degenerate rich.
This moral triumph, colourfully packaged in the rollicking joyride of the film's script, is one of the film’s major redeeming points. Many of the film's viewers may find their own struggle validated.
Given its mass appeal, it's not surprising that the film then discards sensitivity to more niche issues.
The film offers thorough entertainment to its audience, as long as it can turn a blind eye to its more problematic elements like body shaming jokes, the unabashed sexualisation of its female characters and some messed up plot points.
Like, when Zoya gets married in the end and declares that she will only be a dutiful wife from there on, it's completely out of character and quite possibly done to placate the audience that her flighty, impetuous nature has been tamed.
The moral triumph of Wrong No 2's hardworking characters is one of the film’s major redeeming points. Many of the film's viewers may find their own struggle to make an honest living validated.
The film's script also has a couple of plot holes that are hard to look past despite the suspension of our disbelief. Like, how does Omar's father not notice his absence when he runs away with Zoya and realise that it's him whom she wants to marry all along? Conveniences such as these make the script sloppy in a few places.
Still, it has to be admitted that Yasir Nawaz and co have eked out a formula that works for the Pakistani audience. It will be refreshing to see them move out of hackneyed territory like shaadi woes and surprise viewers with an original, unexpected story.