You could get the mother of all sar-dards (headaches), if you entered this movie with an expectation any higher than a chewing gum of the mind that should ideally be dispensed with the moment the madness is over. The madness will start seeming reasonably tolerable only then. Ajay Degn plays the hero. His favourite refrain, since he must have one, goes (in a growling tone), “Kabhi hass bhi liya karo (You should laugh once in a while).” You do laugh, in certain parts, though few and far between.
Devgn, as you know by now (from Golmaal series in particular) has enough comic bones, besides the muscles to take on sawa lakh (1.25 lakh) men as Sardar warriors are proverbially meant to. Sanjay Dutt plays his enemy. He could take on a few lakh men himself. This is a children’s film, though the audience in my theatre mostly comprised happy rowdies, unlike the young girls, old aunties and families for Jab Tak Hai Jaan at the theatre next door. A “festival film” means serious art-house cinema in other cultures. In India, it denotes a madcap pic like this, for which countless fans turn up on Diwali morning to catch a nearly packed 8.30 am show. This is where I am reporting from.
The film’s story is set in a pind (village) of Punjab: the pop-cultural capital of India. The film itself seems like it’s been written in the Gurmukhi script. By now, thanks to Bollywood’s pictures, most of us are familiar with Punjabi. So that should not be a problem. Though given this film, and so many others based on South Indian blockbusters, you could be forgiven to believe that hysteria, and not Hindi, is the national language of India. Son Of Sardaar, I hear, is a remake of SS Rajamouli’s Telugu hit Maryada Ramanna, which itself was apparently inspired by the Buster Keaton silent comedy Our Hospitality.
Looking at the number of guns and swords going around in broad daylight, you could mistake Punjab for Taliban’s heartland in Afghanistan. The society likewise is based on a culture of revenge, honour and mehman-nawazi (the guest being equivalent to God). This explains why Devgn’s character from the Randhawa family cannot be killed off by warriors of the Sandhu clan, so long as he remains inside the Sandhus’ home, and therefore their guest. The Sandhus have already finished off all the feuding Randhawas in their thirst for blood and vengeance.
The premise is quite straightforward. It makes for ample comedy. There are probably all of five or six major scenes in the whole film. Like Rajamouli’s Eega that recently got remade into Makkhi, the idea bears promise, yet there is hardly enough meat in it to occupy a full length feature. But then, mein kee kittha? This is a festival film. Anything vaguely silly, fairly funny, and altogether outrageous would do. I suppose this would do too. Nobody was expecting anything else anyway.