13 November 2012 | DICK STEEL
A Nutshell Review: Son of Sardaar
With national festivals come cinema that's geared toward mass entertainment, and Son of Sardaar cannot be more true of that, being that light hearted romantic comedy combined with action reliant on special effects and plenty of loony tunes inspiration to bring about laughter for an audience looking to being entertained. Nothing more than that. Based upon a Telugu film Maryada Ramanna which itself is based on the 1923 American silent movie Our Hospitality starring Buster Keaton, Son of Sardaar didn't hit the mark for the most parts, being just a plain comedy that's largely forgettable.
Starring Ajay Devgn, who also has a number of other production credits, in the lead role as Jassi, the opening number shows that he's quite the light hearted joker, but packs quite a severe punch when threatened, either personally, or needed to defend his Punjabi heritage. A letter gets sent from India for him to reclaim his family land and inheritance, in which he intends to sell so that he can continue his lifestyle in London, only for his trip back to Hindustan to be filled with unexpected romance, and finding himself embroiled in an aged old family feud with the Sandhus.
It's almost Romeo and Juliet like where his love had sprung from his only hate. He meets Sukh (Sonakshi Sinha) on board a train, only to realize much later that her family still bears the grudge since their earlier generation had clashed. Now led by Billu (Sanjay Dutt), they are adamant to avenge their defeat by killing Jassi, only to have unwittingly invited Jassi to their ancestral home earlier, and having to uphold their end of their tradition of treating guests like god. So it's hospitality at its best when Jassi remains in their home, with comedy ensuing as they try their best to get him out of the house, with Jassi doing the opposite, cooking up excuses to stay within.
One will expect the usual song and dance numbers that pepper the film, especially when it boils down to the romance between Jassi and Sukh, which is made a tad complicated when the latter is already betrothed to another. While great pains have been put in to provide some characterization for at least the two of the leading characters, there was a feeling of unnecessary repetition especially amongst some of the jokes, such as a child who keeps on harping or associating everything with the need to celebrate with a peg. Yes, caricatures rule, but it does wear the jokes down especially if extended beyond welcome.
Directed by Ashwni Dhir, Son of Sardaar is something one would expect from a Hong Kong Mo-Lei-Tau comedy perfected by Stephen Chow, especially when it comes down to the inevitable, final climatic battle between Jassi and Billu, which played out like a WWE wrestling match, with both sides going all out to clobber each other in sequence that you know is so staged. Battles are cartoony and defying the laws of physics, and while I understand this is the comedy genre, overdoing something just makes it too artificial. Inconsistency arises from Jassi as well, since it has been established that he can fight, but chooses not to do so in the first place, requisite to stretch the story out.
Even the resolution at the end was rushed, with everything addressed at a drop of a hat, leading one to think that there's really no storyline here, with the filmmakers eager to end everything rather than to be further caught with their lack of ideas. The clear message here is to love thy neighbour, granted that this is not being told through any form of a solid narrative, preferring the shortest cut possible to elicit laughter in desperation. If this is the only offering for that battle of the Diwali box office, it's clearly not quite up to the mark offered by the other Yash Raj film.
Look out though for Salman Khan, who lends a hand to bookend the film, reprising his role as the unmentioned Bodyguard.