Listless and humourless, Sardar Ka Grandson just isn’t a movie it is best to make investments your time in

Nonika Singh

Ludicrous, downright unrealistic premises have defined many a cross-border story. But even in the fictional retelling of these stories, with complete flight of fancy, there has been enough emotional power to drive home the message. Sardar Ka Grandson, however, not only takes the cake in absurdity, but also leaves you stone cold. So what could have been a poignant telling of a grandmother’s yearning for her home in Lahore turns into a joke, which makes us wince in pain.

Can a grandson carry a 70-year-old home all the way from Lahore to Amritsar? Well, if you are the makers of this film the answer is yes. If not homecoming the home is coming … How convenient and how juvenile? Apart from the theatre of absurd that plays out the moment Amreek Singh (Arjun Kapoor) decides to lug a dilapidated home to fulfil his dadi’s last wish, everything but the house begins to fall into pieces. Imagine a man who can’t convince the Pakistan Embassy to grant a visa to his feisty dadi, Sardar Rupinder Kaur (Neena Gupta), who had misbehaved with a Pakistani official played by Kumud Mishra during a cricket match, can find a way to lift an entire house.

The wafer-thin plot is not the only thing that mars this humourless film where jokes fall flat. Touted as a family film with talented actors like Kanwaljit Singh and Soni Razdan roped-in to play key parts, nowhere does it tug at your heartstrings. Even a hugely gifted actor like Neena Gupta, who handles a scene or two with aplomb, can’t do much to salvage the film. In fact, depicted as a 90-year-old, she appears miscast, and layers and layers of prosthetics fail to add years to the 60 plus actor. The only scenes that work that too sporadically are in flash-back, featuring Aditi Rao Hydari and John Abraham. Aditi plays the younger Sardar in Lahore with John acting her husband.

As the storyline hops from LA to Amritsar to Lahore, in effect it is going helter-skelter, direction-less leaving us clueless that too in the most un-amusing manner. The writers and director combo are simply unable to bring the house down. To be honest, we have nothing against preposterous concepts provided the director writers combo can pull it off. Here, the whole exercise appears pointless as performances like that of Arjun Kapoor are just about adequate. Rakul Preet Singh as Amreek’s love interest based in Los Angeles, who runs a mover and packers kind of agency called Gently Gently, gets to do very little except shake a leg or two. Songs including Manak-E’s remix Jee Ni Karda are peppy enough, but superimposed on the narrative.

Even if the lockdown has ensured you have ample time to spare, this one is just not recommended viewing. One of the few redeeming features of Sardar Ka Grandson is the people to people friendship it depicts/advocates between the two neighbouring nations. Available on Netflix, needless to add the platform has far better options. Or better still watch the Al Jazeera documentary Going Back to Pakistan: 70 Years After Partition, which has inspired this film and captures the longing for one’s roots far better and with a true heartfelt intensity.

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