Movie Review: It doesn’t take much for lost, lonesome and loser Gattu to metarmophose into super cool Kaali, the bowler who leads a down and out England cricket team to umpteen victories. All it takes is a family counselling session by a bunch of restless yuppies in Patiala House — the extended family mansion in Southall — who urge our hero to rise up against Bauji, the in-house Hitler and realise his dreams. He would thereby set a precedent for the rest of the suppressed souls who would prefer to become chefs, rap artists, film makers and fashion designers rather than churn out jalebis or sing bhajans as per the patriarch’s wishes. Of course, the major push — and inspiration — comes from the somewhat badnam Munni of Southall, Anushka Sharma, who apart from being a big tease, is an accomplished motivator too.
But yes, it does take too long for the transformation of our hero who moves from the background to the foreground after plodding through a somewhat tedious plot which is bogged down by predictability. Every little twist and turn of this self-realisation soap opera is pre-ordained and terribly familiar. You know our hero is going to stand tall in the final moments of a faltering match, despite the aggro stance of a scowling Andrew Symmonds. You know the great Indian parivar is going to stick together, come what may. And you know Hitler will be all heart after a life-threatening heart attack.
So what stands out in this melee of poorly-sketched characters and a stodgy plot? It’s the performances. Akshay Kumar refreshingly dons the actor avatar once again, setting aside his overdone comic hero cloak which had begun to fray with overuse. His Gattu is both poised and poignant, brimming over with restraint: a giant in repose. Anushka Sharma’s vivacity may have an after taste of her bubbling Band Baaja Baraat act but her passage from Janakpuri’s dhinchak girl to Southall’s siren is sweet and smooth. Watch out for the girl; she’s truly on a roll. Rishi Kapoor, as always, is mesmerising on screen and never ever strikes a false note. But Dimple Kapadia does end up a bit underutilised, as do the rest of the ensemble cast. Shankar-Ehsan-Loy’s music has a zingy beat to it, specially in the title track.
Patiala House may not match up to his debut film, Kal Ho Na Ho, but director Nikhil Advani does make amends for the disastrous Chandni Chowk to China. Watch this family drama for its redefinition of patriotism in a going-global age, dominated by the growing Indian diaspora.