Film Review: Patiala House (2011)

Following Akshay Kumar’s string of flops during the last couple of years, Patiala House’s soul came across right from the first trailer. On the off-set, it is arguably obvious to say that a film with an ensemble star cast and a cricketing storyline has quite a bit going for it but when you add two veteran actors, a British backdrop and a feel-good factor, it’s almost impossible to pinpoint any wrongs.

The film focuses on the goings-on of a traditional Sikh family residing in Southall. The head of the family, played by the evergreen Rishi Kapoor, rules the roost and his wife, played by the beautiful Dimple Kapadia, depicts his dutiful wife. Akshay Kumar plays the character of Gattu, a 34-year-old man with just one dream in his heart; a dream to play cricket. With an unmatchable talent from a young age, Gattu has all it takes to be a sporting star except the support of his father who remains against his son playing at national level for the England team. Simran, played by Anushka Sharma, proves to be the catalyst to change this all and then in begins the journey of Gattu; from wallflower to the nation’s hero. Gattu’s journey is also the journey for the whole family in Patiala House as they are all given the strength to stand up and fight for their dreams.

It has to be noted that Nikhil Advani’s direction shows a maturity with almost every film he has done. His journey from Kal Ho Naa Ho to Patiala House may have been a somewhat bumpy one but with this latest offering, it’s evident that his vision has only become clearer. Although not an out-and-out hugely different venture, Patiala House is very much a story about dreams, about determination and about fighting against all the odds to achieve what is in your heart. Advani has remained true to his style with the colourful characters and the familiar set-up of a big family and this suggests he perhaps doesn’t want to try something out of the ordinary. However, in this particular film, it seems to work in the story’s favour as the actors and actresses (even the debutantes) seem to fit in to the story and each other with ease.

The performances of Akshay Kumar and Anushka Sharma could not have been more natural in the roles they depicted. Gattu’s character is one the audience needs to sympathise, empathise and rejoice with and Kumar’s rendition succeeds on all accounts. Personally, I feel this is one of Kumar’s better performances. It isn’t very often than an actor of his kind plays a character who is a total recluse and who lacks ambition in the way Gattu’s does and it is because of this unconventional role that Kumar is able to do justice to the role. Similarly, I can put my hand on my heart and say that Anushka Sharma could not have been a more perfect choice for the role of Simran. Her quirky and loyal character is a catalyst in the plot and Sharma gives her the “x-factor” she needs in just the right doses. I will also add that the Sharma-Kumar jodi totally rocks! Personally I hope this isn’t the last time we see the duo together on the screen.

Overall, it’s fair to say that Patiala House delivers on levels which perhaps may be seen as nothing extraordinary. The comedy in the movie is one thing that stands out amongst the various characters and the family scenes. Arguably, it is Sharma which shines the most in the comic scenes and her ability to effortlessly make the audience laugh is one that is perhaps unmatchable by any other actor or actress in the movie and this includes Kumar. However, I feel the films strongest point is, indeed, the feel-good factor and the story of a nobody to a hero. It seems such films are becoming a phenomenon somewhat following the ever-popular Slumdog Millionaire. Having said that, with the likes of Rishi Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia and Akshay Kumar being a part, Patiala House becomes that much more bankable. The soundtrack is also very soulful and brings out the culture of the movie, drawing in the audiences from the very first trailers.

Kumar boasted that this movie is his best work and I simply cannot argue. If you’re a fan of his, or indeed Sharma’s, this movie is unmissable… but if you’re looking for a film which remains in your heart and one which you will undoubtedly want to watch over and over, this perhaps won’t come up to the mark. I would say Patiala House is definitely worth a watch but I think I went into the cinema hall with expectations which were simply too high (I did exit the hall humming Laung Da Kashkara though…haha!).

Rating: 3.5/5

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