Akshay Kumar – Parghat Singh Kahlon aka Gattu
Anushka Sharma – Simran
Rishi Kapoor – Gurtej Kahlon
Dimple Kapadia – Mrs. Kahlon
Prem Chopra – Mr. Sahini
What’s it about: This isn’t the first film to be shot in the Sikh milieu of Southall, a London suburb. However, it would be the first one to have a dozen-odd characters to fill up a palatial Patiala House.
Bauji (Rishi) spews venom against the goras after suffering insults at their hands and losing one of his family members in a racial scuffle. A decade on, he still can’t let go of the past and issues a no-firangs-allowed diktat.
His beta, Gattu (Akshay) is an aspiring fast bowler, whose dreams of playing for his country are crushed in his teenage years. Now a mere puppet in his dad’s hands, he’s the butt of everyone’s jokes, until an army of relatives and another half-blood Punjabi lass (Anushka) inspires him to join the country’s team.
What’s hot: Akshay takes a break from his dime-a-dozen comedies to work in a serious role. What works for him is the fact that he looks like a real cricketer. Even the mock drills when he’s rehearsing, look authentic. Given his athletic frame, he looks the part of a fast bowler. He puts in one of his most restrained performances. Rishi Kapoor is pitch perfect in the role of the dictatorial patriarch. His scenes with the Khiladi stand out, delivering the required amount of drama. Anushka has played the chatterbox girl next door before, but she still comes across fresh and likeable. Even though the climax is predictable, Advani succeeds in roping you in using the patriotism card.
What’s not: The biggest grouse you have is this: if Bauji really was that troubled by the goras and their hatred toward his family, why didn’t he simply pack his bags and leave? After living in Southall and running a series of businesses there, he still harbours bitter feelings for the locals. Even though it’s the central theme of the film, it’s a bit difficult to swallow. Also, Advani takes a little too long to get the ball rolling. We understand Gattu’s plight, but constant flashbacks and reminders of why he’s sad, is a drag on the pace. The songs are weak. Plus, the standout track ‘Laung Da Lashkara’ comes during the end credits. Even the background score lacks the quintessential Panju punch. With Akshay playing for England and not India, it doesn’t really evoke the sense of jingoism that a Lagaan or Chak De! manged to. While the father-son relation is genuinely moving, Gattu’s entry in the English cricket team and the climax matches are super clich ©d and extra filmy.
What’s that! Poor Dimple gets just one dialogue. Each time she rushes to say something; Rishi stops her with a raised index finger. So
much for women empowerment!
What to do: Akshay’s fans will enjoy his new form. This one may not score a sixer, but it manages to dispatch one to the boundary.