With Patiala House, director Nikhil Advani, who debuted with Kal Ho Na ho, returns once again to the familiar background of the Indian Diaspora in the UK.
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The film tells the story of a young cricket loving British Indian of Sikh origin Parghat Singh Kahlon (Akshay Kumar), whose passion for cricket falls in conflict with his father’s desire that he should never represent England. As he settles into the life of being the shopkeeper Gattu, he is reminded of the dreams he left behind by the woman he loves Simran (Anushka Sharma).
While the Indian Diaspora’s search for identity has been handled often enough in world cinema in memorable films like Bend it like Beckham, it has not featured frequently in Hindi cinema. While films like Lagaan and Chakh De India have reflected Indian nationalism, sometimes pitting Indian aspirations against Western imperialism, Patiala House reflects the aspirations of the global Indian. The west (and more specifically England) can no longer be the evil "other". This is an interesting transition for Indian cinema.
The film begins well and Advani even develops the early plot skilfully. The music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is also well done, and contributes to the film’s cinematic ambience.
But by the second half of the film, the plethora of characters in this typical Hindi film, run on parallel paths in merry confusion. While Patiala House remains entertaining, especially with the presence of talented performers like Hard Kaur (as Komal Chatwal), the film does not tell us anything that we don’t already know.
When compared with path breaking sports films like Joh Jeeta Wohi Sikander and Lagaan, Patiala House infact takes a step backwards, with its inability to logically develop sporting action. Apart from the film’s final scene, many sequences use single shots or even collages to tell a story. This detracts from the huge strides made by Lagaan and Chak De India in the same genre.
On another note, the re-uniting of the much loved onscreen couple Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia passes us by without attracting too much attention.
I would go with a rating of 2.5 for Patiala House. It’s a well intentioned entertainer. Not a trendsetter.