Well-known director Nikhil Advani returns with a crisp, emotional and breathtaking story of Asian immigrants in Britain. Set in Southall, Patiala House is a story of the Kahlon family who are ruled by their Bauji (Rishi Kapoor), a patriarchal monarch who still lives in the racist 1970’s Britain. The plot revolves around the age old clash between Eastern culture and traditions and modern Western life. The lead protagonist Gattu (Akshay Kumar) is an exceptional fast bowler who gives up his dream and opportunity to play for the English national team because his father is against him playing for the “Angrez”. Trouble brews when the younger generation wants to achieve their dreams but their aspirations are silenced by Gattu’s example.
Life however gives Gattu a second chance when he is asked to play once again. Enter Anushka Sharma, true to her character as the bubbly Simran, Gattu’s love interest and pillar of strength who makes him realize that he is ‘drowning‘. Simran and the extended family encourage and support Gattu who then decides to play while hiding this fact from Bauji. But what happens when eventually Bauji does find out? Will Gattu give up his dream again, at the peak of his career or defy his father and face the disappointment he has so painstakingly evaded for the past 17 years?
Brilliant direction and some excellent performances ensure that the audience is gripped to their seats till the very end. The legendary Rishi Kapoor, currently on a second innings in his career, essays proficiently a complex character which one would otherwise hate, but his portrayal ensures the audience identifies with Bauji. Dimple Kapadia as Gattu’s timid mother initially has nothing much to do but sparkles in a confrontational anti climax. Akshay Kumar makes a great comeback playing Gattu with such maturity that the audience had forgotten he was capable of after some regular slapstick comedies. Akshay succeeds in engaging the viewer in every act, be it on the pitch or in his shop. We cry when he cries and cheer when he plays. Anushka Sharma as the bubbly Simran is a fresh refreshing wave although the love story between the two seems somewhat forced. Amongst the many cousins, Armaan Kirmani as Jassi stands out with a brilliant performance in some very tough scenes, adding authenticity to his British Asian character. His wife, essayed by Geneva Talwar is convincing. Usman Qureshi as the young Akshay does a commendable job.
Music by Shankar-Ehsan-Loy is harmonious; in particular, Kyun Main Jagoon lends support to the emotional scenes. Laung Da Lashkara is a lively number which stays with you long after the film has ended. Particular commendations must go to Santosh Thundiyil for fantastic cinematography.
Despite a predictable story and mediocre screenplay, Advani takes a very fresh approach to its presentation. Clever scripting ensures that the film has its comic moments and that it identifies to its primary market, i.e. the NRI youth. There are some outstanding shots, in particular the defining moment of rejection by Rishi Kapoor and the penultimate confrontation scene between Kapoor and Kapadia. Melodrama does take its toll at times but woven within A class acting, direction, and setting against the backdrop of cricket, makes it bearable. There are too many characters in the movie to keep count of, yet the movie is very somber. The cricket scenes are very well executed and the presence of Andrew Symonds in particular adds sincere authenticity.
All in all, Patiala House is a must watch. It connects with viewers who identify with the movie as reminiscent of their own struggles.
This is Patiala House, “innit”!