Patiala House is no Bend It Like Beckham. It has got Akshay Kumar in it. And it's not directed by Gurinder Chadha. The director's name is Nikhil Advani. Yes, the same Nikhil Advani, who paired with Akshay to deliver Chandni Chowk To China. In a corporate world, non-performance would have been punished. But, Bollywood functions differently and Nikhil Advani is back with Akshay to give another potential dud - Patiala House.
Here is the story in short: Akshay (boy) wants to play cricket - father doesn't allow - all family members terrorized by father - family hates boy - girl meets boy - convinces family to motivate boy to play - boy agrees asap - family hides from father - father comes to know - father falls ill - boy gives up - boy revolts - father happy - everyone happy - movie over.
Akshay again tries to play the simpleton, a persona which he is now taking a bit too seriously. His trademark laughter, now made notoriously infamous in the Micromax mobile phone ad was missing in the movie. Akshay tries very hard to be a 34 year old. I wish, it was that simple. In a visible efforts to deliver a powerful performance, Akshay loses most of his characteristic zing, and looks like a heavily burdened man. Moral of the story: A loud motormouth Akshay is still better than a muted Akshay. If anyone needed a reinvention in Bollywood today, it's definitely Akshay Kumar. Toward the end of the movie, there is a scene, when Anushka is leaving and Akshay grabs Anushka all of sudden (more like grab her head and shoulder). It would definitely get 'The Most Unromantic Scene Award' of recent times. It's as if, Akshay can't hold Anushka properly, as wife, Twinkle is watching and she can't let her go either, as the on-screen chemistry is totally missing and this is the only chance to salvage the movie.
Racism is the new dirty word in Bollywood. Bollywood is comfortable in delivering films based on themes. So, racism is the in thing these days. So, Rishi Kapoor carries memories of racist attacks in UK, and he takes it upon himself to carry forward the whole community in UK, earning the title of Sarpanch of Southall. Still, Rishi Kapoor delivers a powerful performance and looks convincing.
Anushka Sharma as Simran is one bright spot in the movie. Though, she carries her talking nineteen to the dozed performance again from Band Baaja Baaraat to this movie, at least, there is some spark in her performance.
Dimple Kapadia plays a strangely muted role, still carrying memories of her Dabangg performance and doesn't talk much for most of the movie. In the end, she has one scene, which the director must have narrated while getting her nod for the movie. Little she would have known, there isn't much more to her role. Of course, with the comfort of working in son-in-law's movie and probably a free paid vacation in UK, not much persuasion must have been required.
Notable performances included Andrew Symonds, who may take up an alternate career in Bollywood after IPL. His close ups were mostly seen on the big screen during cricket matches and his grimaces. How much, I love them! And there is Naseer Hussain, laughing at himself mouthing some strange Hindi dialogues.
There were more characters than dialogues in the movie. But, out of the other 1,581 odd characters, Hard Kaur singing bhajan will haunt your memories for some time. Of course, she sheds her inhibitions later, as the script demanded and gets ample opportunity to showcase her rapping talent and dispay her tattoos.
Cricket: Cricket plays a very important character in the movie. To be more precise, you have to be a really great cricket or Akshay fan to watch his run-ups and bowling every ten mins. Yes, though he had given up cricket under strict instructions of his father, he knew, life or his father would give him a second chance and he needs to be fit and also, practice serendipituously close to one of the selectors's (Tinu Anand as Mr. Bedi) residence to be able to play for England cricket team.
Of course, bowling is the real hero. If there was ever a need for an endorsement of bowlers in the game of cricket, Patiala House would walk away with all the honours. It showcases only bowling and so much so, that England cricket team is never shown batting as if they randomly decide on a score by England and then put the opponents to bat. And when they are bowling, only Akshay bowls. Though, normal cricket rules mandate 4 overs per bowler for a T20 match, ICC passed a special resolution to allow Akshay to bowl all 20 overs for his team. And am not even talking about the absurdity of Akshay's selection in the England squad here.
The scenes where family and friends try to hide the fact, that Akshay is playing for England provide for some comic moments. But, nothing that you haven't seen before and soon...they become repetitive.
The uncanny familiarity with Bend It Like Beckham continues with the 'coincidence' of a family wedding taking place at the same time, as the all important T20 World Championship in which our hero has to play a pivotal role. Of course, family weddings are also perfect excuses to throw in a couple of extra songs in the movie.
And about the Lala connection, Akshay bowls a delivery with a short run-up like Lala Amarnath to win the match for England in the last ball. There you go...
P.S. Dear filmmakers, while I appreciate your efforts in spreading the use of regional languages, I would prefer subtitles of Punjabi to Hindi or English (when the movie releases in Hindi).