Review: ‘Sardar Ka Grandson’ Is a Boring Film That Falls Flat
Sardar Ka Grandson stars Neena Gupta and Arjun Kapoor in important roles.
Review: Sardar Ka Grandson Commits the Biggest Sin; It’s Boring
Arjun Kapoor‘s voiceover greets us at the start of Sardar Ka Grandson as he tells us about his dadi who would say, "Life mein do cheezein badi bekaar hai, khaana bina achhar and life bina pyaar” (Two things in this world will always lack flavour: meals without pickle and life without love). Allow me to add the third to the list- this Grandson of the Sardar!
Amreek (Arjun Kapoor), who resides in Los Angeles, claims to eat achaar with burger and pizza and co-owns 'Gently Gently', his packers and movers company with partner Radha (Rakul Preet Singh). He is shown to be clumsy, downright insensitive and is accused of only breaking things and never fixing them.
Amreek is nursing a broken heart when Amritsar comes calling. Dadi is in the hospital and so he must go visit. The dadi in question is Rupinder Kaur (Neena Gupta) from Lahore, the family matriarch who still reminisces about her 'Lahore wala ghar' (the home in Lahore) and rues the day she had to hastily leave behind everything and cross over to India after the Partition.
Partition stories are imbued with a deep sense of tragedy as well as great human resilience. The nostalgia of the past and the pain because of the unspeakable violence is palpable. Directed by Kaashvie Nair, who has also written it along with novelist Anuja Chauhan, Sardar Ka Grandson has a staggering opaqueness about it. It makes us feel nothing. No love for the dadi, the prototype we have been forced to see multiple times, especially since Vicky Donor seemingly made the “Whisky chugging dadi" the only way an older Punjabi woman can be made adorable by Bollywood.
No love is felt for the house that she left behind and wants to reclaim and certainly no special bond with the grandson who announces “it won’t be homecoming but home is coming".
Even though it sounds incredulous, transporting a structure as a whole is possible and has been done in many parts of the world. But the way Amreek proposes it, the process of this structural relocation that we are almost forced to sit through and the big twist in the tale that comes in the form of the Mayor of Lahore (Kumud Mishra) and his long beard make it really difficult to suspend our disbelief.
Everything seems insincere, even the intention of bringing that house as a whole to fulfil his grandmother's dying wish. The shared history and culture of the people on both sides of the border is hardly tapped into. All we have is Amreek suddenly appearing on TV interviews saying he would want people of both countries to live in “aman and shanti" (respect and peace). And just like that it becomes all about plucking the house from Lahore. The jokes don’t land. There is hardly any emotional play-off and even the Punjabi that the characters speak is inauthentic and inconsistent.
Neena Gupta, who otherwise always manages to hold her own, seems burdened by the badly done prosthetics and a poorly-written character. Sardar saw her own people being butchered in front of her, she herself had a narrow escape and still managed to rebuild her life again in Amritsar. Hers in an inspiring story and would have made for a more interesting thread than just her obsession with the old house that we are shown.
Flashbacks inserted with Aditi Rao Hydari playing a young Sardar Kaur and John Abraham as the turbaned husband have the finesse of a high school play. And honestly the swallowing-vowels variety of Punjabi that the actors speak gets on our nerves. The only one who nails it is actor Kanwaljit Singh in the role of Neena Gupta‘s son, who also has decent screen time to leave an impact.
The rest of the cast, from Soni Razdan, Divya Seth, Rakul Preet Singh to Kumud Mishra, are wasted. Arjun Kapoor's default expression of boyish insouciance hardly helps matters. It’s difficult to buy into the contrived plot.
Sardar Ka Grandson commits the biggest sin! It’s boring. Very boring. A spicy kick of genuine drama and entertainment would have helped make it palatable. But as things stand, 1 Quint out of 5!
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