Sunday, November 18, 2012

Yesteryear stars on a power trip


(Published in The New Sunday Express, on 18 November, 2012)

Cast: Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha, Juhi Chawla, Vindoo Dara Singh, Mukul Dev, Tanuja
Director: Ashwni Dhir
Rating: 1 star
About five minutes into Son of Sardar, I found myself wondering why they didn’t just give us an animated film. It would have been more believable to watch computer-generated characters riding computer-generated horses than men in their forties and fifties firing computer-generated horses and cannons at each other. And chances are, the expressions would have been a deal better than those that the cast of this film could produce.
The last film I saw with worse production quality was that fifteen-minute clip from Innocence of Muslims. On the subject, I doubt there’s been any film that offends Sikhs and Punjab to the extent Son of Sardar does. It starts out with Jassi Randhawa (Ajay Devgn) saying, “Sardar ko joker math samajhna” and guest star Salman Khan adding, “Pathan se panga math lo”. And the film does exactly the opposite.
To watch it, you’d think every Sikh over the age of sixty sits under trees with rosaries and kirpans in hand. Everyone else wears sunglasses, stores guns, and drives tractors. And when they’re not tending their farms, they train in akharas outsides Balwinder ‘Billoo’ Sandhu’s (Sanjay Dutt’s) house. The police are complicit in killings. If the cop is Puneet Issar, he’ll even deliver an enemy to “No Man’s Land.”
Oh, yes, now, here’s why the film lasts as long as it does. The children of the Sandhu and Randhawa household have inherited a family feud. The Sandhu family – or rather, Billoo on behalf of the family – swears off the things that matter most to them, until all the Randhawas are killed. One gives up marriage, one gives up ice cream, one gives up cold drinks, and one loses her marbles. They would have lived in denial, and died of old age had Jassi Randhawa stayed on in a computer-generated London. But no, he meets one of the Sandhu spawn, Sukh (Sonakshi Sinha) on a train, gets off with her, and makes frands with the family. They could have killed him, and died of Viagra/ice cream/carbonated drink overdose once they found out. But no, they’re restrained by a complicated custom involving the Punjabi version of “Athithi devo bhava.”
There are two aspects of the film that are worse than the plot – a propensity for rhyme, and a profusion of truly painful wordplay. Sample this: “Arre yaar, main Hindustan waapas nahin jaa paoonga.” “Kyon?” “Mujhe log ‘Hindustan Lever’ bulaayenge.” “Kyon?” “Kyunki main Hindustan ‘leave’ kar ke London aaya hoon.” Kill me now.
Even if your sense of humour is in sync with the scriptwriter’s, you’ll be foxed by an infusion of random sentimental dialogue towards the end. And you’ll be even more puzzled when a woman who must be closing in on 50 dreams of having two children, calling “Happy and Ing.”
The Verdict: The only part of the film that makes sense is that Akshay Kumar was involved in coming up with its completely irrelevant title.

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