Donnerstag, 14. Februar 2013

Son Of Sardaar (2012) – Review in English

About the story: Jaswinder Singh Randhawa, called Jassi (Ajay Devgn), lives in London. When he comes to know that the Punjab government wants to buy a piece of land in Phagwada which belongs to him, he travels to his ancestors' country. On his way he meets the lovely Sukhmit, called Sukh (Sonakshi Sinha) and ends up as a guest in the house of her family headed by Balwinder Singh Sandhu, called Billoo (Sanjay Dutt). Too late Billoo comes to know that Jassi, whom he welcomed as his guest, belongs to the Randhawa family which has been the Sandhu family's arch enemy for generations. When his uncle was murdered by Jassi's father, Billoo had even vowed not to marry his bride Parminder, called Pammi (Juhi Chawla), until he killed the last member of the Randhawa family. After 25 years, the time of revenge finally seems to have come – but first Jassi has to leave the house as the Sandhus are famous for treating their guests like gods. Jassi, on the other hand, also comes to know about the soup he has landed in and therefore now tries by all available means to stay inside the house...

A masala family entertainer, the perfect Diwali fun film was announced by producer and leading actor Ajay Devgn about his comedy Son Of Sardaar (the title was generously left to him by Akshay Kumar and Ajay personally thanked him in the credits like he also thanked Salman Khan for his loveable guest appearance in the film). Therefore Ajay insisted on releasing his film during the Diwali weekend 2012 even though another filmy heavyweight was slated for the same date – Yash Chopra's directorial venue Jab Tak Hai Jaan starring Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma. Even after Yash's unexpected death shortly before the release and when people started claiming that Ajay should back out and leave the Diwali weekend completely to Chopra's swan song, Ajay refused; in his opinion there would be enough space for two films, above all two films as different as SOS and JTHJ, and why should the people be disappointed who had been looking forward to the masala fun on Diwali? In the end, success proved him right: Both films crossed the 100 crore mark and became hits, and the industry, after having predicted that clash to be suicidal, celebrated one of its most successful Diwalis ever.

However, Ajay probably knew that on every other weekend his film would have made lesser impact. To much it was tailor-made for the Indians' celebration mood on Diwali, right up to the "Happy Diwali" plate held into the camera by Ajay, Sonakshi, Sanjay and guest star Salman at the firework end of the clip "Pon Pon" during the end credits. Okay, for being a family fun film SOS has quite a lot of swords and blood splashing and quite a lot of knocked-out teeth and bashed-up people flying through the air, but – forget it. When Ajay enters the frame standing on two horses (alluding to his trademark entry on two motorbikes in his debut film Phool Aur Kaante) and triggers lively music, cool mass dance scenes plus action and brawls in South Indian slow-motion style, you know already after ten minutes which way the Punjabi cat jumps. But on the other hand, no one having a little idea about the Hindi film industry expects a moment of film art glory when a Diwali masala comedy is announced.

Though, to be honest, Son Of Sardaar in any case is much better than many a mindless comedy which nowadays horrifyingly easily reaches the blockbuster status. Inspired by the Telugu hit Maryada Ramanna, the film is – like the Sardars (described that way in the title song) – "a complete package of action and emotion". The action comes from the two Sandhu brothers Tony (Mukul Dev) and Tito (Vidhu Dara Singh), both as revengeful as dim-witted; but of course also from the glowering chief revenger Sanjay Dutt and from Ajay Devgn who mostly acts like he's smoked something wrong on the sets. Best buddies in real life, Sanjay and Ajay surely had great fun with their confrontations aswell as with their extended fight scene in the end.

But it's also these two main characters who, sometimes even really touchingly, provide the film with its emotional elements; and not just in the (unfortunately much too short) nocturnal balustrade scene where they thematise the implacable family hatred's absurdity. Ajay is very touching in the scene where Jassi relinquishes his love to Sukh (self-conscious and vivacious: Sonakshi Sinha) and encourages her to marry her good friend Bobby (very likeable: Arjan Bajwa). His scenes with his real-life mother-in-law Tanuja in the role of the Sandhu matriarch Bebe are nice, too. And Sanjay and the charming Juhi Chawla have in no way lost their Safari chemistry: When Pammi, living in Billoo's house as his semi-married bride since 25 years, intrepidly tries again and again to make Billoo finally marry her and have children with her, and when Billoo on the one hand would love to do so but on the other hand doesn't bring himself to resign from that blasted revenge oath, then, with actors like Sanjay (who even with that greasy long hair still looks impressive) and Juhi (who's still left amazingly markless by the years passed by), you get some absolutely sweet and charming scenes.

Apart from that there are nice little gimmicks and hints all over the movie like Sonakshi's "Kamosh!!" yelled with her Shotgun father's voice or Ajay's and Sonakshi's train scene, reminding of DDLJ but ending in a completely different way. Plus a cheerful cast obviously having fun, you get a film which, in the end, surely is able to entertain you, provided you don't expect a piece of worthwhile cinematic art which, after all, SOS never was meant to be.

Nevertheless, the question arises: How long will films like that continue to run successfully in India? The year 2012 has clearly shown that there is a rethinking process going on in the audience and that not only big budget films (where presenting the superstars is more important than a good script) are in demand but, more and more, even those (smaller) films focussing on telling a well-conceived and sophisticated story. The success of movies like Barfi, Vicky Donor, Paan Singh Tomar and English Vinglish speaks volumes. Therefore, Ajay, Sanjay and their colleagues should keep an eye on the signs of the times. Life (or better: the box office) punishes those who delay. Sooner or later.

Produced by Ajay Devgn, NR Pachisia, Pravin Talreja; Directed by Ashwni Dhir
141 Min.; DVD: Eros International, English Subtitles (including songs)
© Diwali
Official Website

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