It takes us just five minutes to get the hang of this film's narrative structure. It is as nimbly-paced as a fast-bowler playing cricket in a wide-open field trying to avoid all the roar and din of the cheering crowds in the stands.
For a film that has a surprisingly large number of characters (after the 23rd Sikh-Briton running up and down the wooden staircase I stopped counting) the noise decibel is surprising low. The clamour of a crowded Sikh household in London never overpowers the emotional kernel of this film.
The delicate supple bonds that grow among people, who are not just mal-adjusted in a foreign land but are also spiritual and emotional misfits in their own household, are brought out in vignettes that show the hand of a confident storyteller.
Nikhil Advani's admirable episodic structure of "Salaam-e-Ishq" failed because of its inordinate length. This time Advani takes no chances with the length. Economy of expression is paramount to the effectual storytelling in "Patiala House". Not that Advani shies away from taking risks. The self-assured manner in which he aggregates the characters in a house run by a patriarchal Sikh in Britain (Rishi Kapoor, firmly in command) without crowding and asphyxiating the canvas shows Advani's deep empathy with the characters who drift into his range of vision.
At heart, "Patiala House" is a father-son story. Akshay has done them before. One immediately recalls Suneel Darshan's "Ek Rishta" where Amitabh Bachchan was the father who drove son Akshay to a state of smothered silences. In "Patiala House" Akshay's silences scream in wounded protest every time papa Rishi Kapoor's iron hand falls on the boy's dreams.
In many ways the screenplay (Advani, Anvita Dutt Guptan) is a compendium of cliches -- despotic dad, timid mother (Dimple Kapadia), unfulfilled son, encouraging girlfriend, her precocious surrogate-son (he reminded me of Kajol's boy in My Name Is Khan). Advani converts familiar characters into real believable warm endearing characters whose lives begin to matter us as we watch them in their Southall setting.
The historic data about the Sikh community in Britain is kept at a bare and bearable minimum. The narrative never feels the burden of the cross-cultural migratory journey made by the plane-load of characters. And that's the film's USP.
Even as the peripheral characters make a fleeting but coherent impact (Rishi Kapoor's pregnant daughter-in-law's anguish at watching her husband being treated like a doormat is as apparent to us as the family's daughter Hard Kaur's tattoo on the arm), we are constantly seeking out the next chapter in the repressed Gattu's wretched-going-on-glorious life.
Akshay plays Gattu with a restrain that never shies away from tears. Every time he thinks of his ruined dreams a trickle of a tear comes down from the side of his cheek. It isn't done for effect. Akshay embraces Gattu's shattering dreams and makes them his own.
Is this Akshay's finest performance to date? For the sheer mastery over the heart and soul of his character and the dignity he brings to the loser's character, yes, this is Akshay's best.
Akshay and Rishi don't look like father and son. And that's the best compliment one can pay to the film's theme. How can they look like a family, when the father has spent all of his son's growing years denying the boy's sense of the self? Oh, Rishi is a bellowing volcano of arrogant prejudices. Brilliantly bravura as always, Rishi almost echoes the tyranny of Prithviraj Kapoor. Player kiya paida to darna kya?
His sudden reformation at the end is unconvincing. The unhurried grace of the rest of the film gives away to an urgently-claimed culmination. One can't blame Advani for abandoning the pace at the end. He knows the audience wants a hurried send-off.
Anusha Sharma remains effervescent in her volubility. But she needs to play a less talkative character.
Though scarce, the moments between Akshay and Dimple are very precious. There is a specially evocative sequence at the hospital when the invalidated Rishi Kapoor tells his screen-wife Dimple Kapadia to shut the door on their screen-son Akshay's face.
The film has some exceptionally emotional moments bolstered by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's resplendent background score. Santosh Thundiyil's cinematography adds precious little to the proceedings. London doesn't seem to come alive beyond the cricket field.
The editing (Manan Sagar) could have been less generous. Portions of the narrative lose their energy. Before it sags, the director swoops up his characters' dreams into curvy shapes. The narrative never loses its way in the maze and clutter of the characters and ambitions.
Gattu finally finds his groove. The film never loses it.
1. Anupama Chopra, Consulting Editor, Films from NDTV: 2.5/5 Patiala House is the best work director Nikhil Advani and Akshay Kumar have done recently ... NDTV Complete review
What’s common in most Bollywood films? Predictable stories, sketchy secondary characters, overly sentimental preachy flab, and stars whose performances are often not in sync with the graph of the film to list a few.
Nikhil Advani jumps into a ring where such traps are aplenty, dodges them and sculpts an idea with attrition to create a film ahead of the curve that is high on emotion, elegantly worded, and above all has Akshay Kumar playing a role with dignity and restraint after a long, long time.
The story? Take Bend it Like Beckham, pump it with Bollywood steroids stars, budgets, technical deftness, throw in a dose of Karan Johar’s big-on-family values and you’ll end up with Patiala House. An oppressive patriarch (Gurtej Kahlon/Rishi Kapoor).
A son robbed of his aspirations (Gattu/Akshay Kumar). A second chance. Bollywood drama. Cricket. And while it’s a no-brainer how this ends, Advani gambles on sacrificing surprises in plot to give time for his characters to make an emotional connection with the audience. In this he succeeds.
However, there are entire reels where you will have to let the film contrive its own logic. It’s a stretch to accept a 34-year-old being picked for a T20 English squad on the word of a regional Sikh selector, and even more so that he goes on to become a national hero being heralded in the media and yet all this still eludes Kahlon Sr thanks to some dubious, intricate plotting by the rest of the family.
The flashbacks are unimaginatively treated and all too convenient as are the creative licenses taken with the conventions of international cricket. And Nasser Hussain speaking garbled Hindi? Much too gimmicky.
Still, the high points of the film sweep its shortcomings under the rug. Advani captures the spirit of Southall brilliantly from the anglicised Gurudwaras, the lack of white Brits, and even the famous Glassy Junction being inherent to the telling.
The idiosyncrasies and dual-lives of first and second generation immigrant families are in place: whether it is Kahlo Sr’s love for the Indian cricket team, the aunts’ frivolous desire to be a part of Bollywood, and the very idea of second-gen kids constrained to live by their parents’ old-fashioned and idealistic code.
The father-son conflict is expressed more often with silence than histrionics. Simran (Anushka Sharma) and Gattu’s falling in love is unhurried and comes to fruition in a whisper, no more. The family members especially the girls are brilliantly cast and go well beyond the one-dimensional characters we’re used to seeing in such films.
Rishi Kapoor valiantly takes on this mighty role with gusto. Make no mistake, the central character in the film is Kahlon Sr. Dimple Kapadia flip flops in the tough-to-portray character of the mother who is caught in the crossfire.
But she settles it in the final showdown with aplomb. Anushka Sharma is only getting better and it’s hard to look elsewhere on the screen when she smiles, even in a long shot. As for Akshay Kumar, this is easily his best work in a long time.
Could the film have gone further? Certainly. What if the Advani chose to strip the Bollwood flab from the screenplay? What if Gattu’s breaking into the team didn’t only depend on the genius talent he already possesses?
What if he had to work for it for real, like Rocky? And most interestingly what if the final match was against India? Where would Kahlon Sr’s loyalties lie then? Now that’s a conflict!
When you watch this film, forget about the cricket; forget even about it being an underdog story. It’s neither. This is a story of a man whose beliefs are beyond the use-by date and the price his son pays for it. Be assured, you’ll be empathetic at some level.
Source: Minty Tejpal from Mumbai Mirror, rating: 3.5/5
Those of you exhausted by Akshay Kumar's now staple brand of buffoonery might be pleased to note that the actor has been kept on a tight leash in director Nikhil Advani’s 'Patiala House'. Cast as the silently suffering, Parghat Singh Kahlon, fondly referred to as Gattu, a promising fast bowler in his teens whose professional cricketing career was aborted prematurely by his tyrant dad, Akshay works with minimal dialogue and hangdog expressions.
This old-fashioned melodrama, set in the largely Indian district of Southall in London, sees Rishi Kapoor playing the dominating patriarch of an extended Sikh family who has terrorised the dozen or so occupants of his home into obeying his every order. But desperate to break free of his autocratic rule so they can follow their dreams, the younger members of the family encourage Gattu to lead the way by defying his father and making a play for the England team when a spot opens up.
The script by director Nikhil Advani and Anvita Dutt retreads the familiar 'family drama' formula, packing in every cliche that fits. Advani squeezes in so many characters that it's hard to keep track of who is who, and how one is related to the other. Fortunately one never really needs to piece together this family tree, even in the film's messy second half where every member in the house, and subsequently all of Southall conspires to hide from Gattu's father that his son is playing for the England team. This harebrained plan involves everything from printing a different version of the newspaper for their home, to cutting off the television cable each time a cricket match is about to start.
Plotted like those kitchen-sink dramas of the 90s, 'Patiala House' is loud and melodramatic, and shamelessly tries to manipulate you into shedding tears. Even the cricket scenes in the film's second half don't succeed in arousing any of that edge-of-the-seat anxiety because the screenplay is so predictable.
Of the cast, the usually bankable Rishi Kapoor hams it up as the bellowing Bauji whose every word is cast in stone. He fails to humanize the character despite the racism back-story, which is evidently meant to justify his tough personality. Dimple Kapadia cuts a sorry figure as his bullied wife; she has little to do in the film, and buried under layers of make-up she resembles a Madame Tussauds wax-work.
Anushka Sharma, who stars as a well-meaning neighbor and Gattu's subsequent love interest, knows the character well, having played variations of it before. Still she’s easy on the eye, and a welcome distraction from the film’s bland supporting cast that play varied cousins and aunts.
Akshay Kumar as Gattu who one cousin describes as a "shadow of a man", is earnest and restrained, and barely says a few words in the first thirty minutes or so of the film. Yet it’s a labored performance, lacking the subtleties and nuances that could have made it truly heart-felt.
This film may work for those who miss old-fashioned melodramatic entertainers, but I was bored. I'm going with one-and-a-half out of five for director Nikhil Advani’s 'Patiala House'. Decide for yourself if it's your cup of tea.
What's it about: This isn't the first film to be shot in the Sikh milieu of Southall, a London suburb. However, it would be the first one to have a dozen-odd characters to fill up a palatial Patiala House.
Bauji (Rishi) spews venom against the goras after suffering insults at their hands and losing one of his family members in a racial scuffle. A decade on, he still can't let go of the past and issues a no-firangs-allowed diktat.
His beta, Gattu (Akshay) is an aspiring fast bowler, whose dreams of playing for his country are crushed in his teenage years. Now a mere puppet in his dad's hands, he's the butt of everyone's jokes, until an army of relatives and another half-blood Punjabi lass (Anushka) inspires him to join the country's team.
What's hot: Akshay takes a break from his dime-a-dozen comedies to work in a serious role. What works for him is the fact that he looks like a real cricketer. Even the mock drills when he's rehearsing, look authentic. Given his athletic frame, he looks the part of a fast bowler. He puts in one of his most restrained performances. Rishi Kapoor is pitch perfect in the role of the dictatorial patriarch. His scenes with the Khiladi stand out, delivering the required amount of drama. Anushka has played the chatterbox girl next door before, but she still comes across fresh and likeable. Even though the climax is predictable, Advani succeeds in roping you in using the patriotism card.
Partly a coming of age drama, partly a film about the expat Indian community in Britain, with some cricket thrown in here and there, 'Patiala House' is a well crafted story supported by some superb performances. Is it extraordinary? Well, no. But it certainly is an eminently enjoyable film.
Nikhil Advani's latest release centres around the titular 'Patiala House' in UK's famous Southall district, and its residents, the boisterous Kahlon family. The film opens up with a prologue in flashbacks that explains the racist violence that the family and the community have to deal with. At the head of these tribulations is the family's patriarch, Gurtej Singh Kahlon, who turns into a crusader for Sikh rights in the town, against 'goras' and becomes the unofficial 'sarpanch' of Southall, as the script puts it.
In the process, Gurtej also becomes an unwitting tyrant of a 'bauji' to his family, putting his passion before theirs, stifling all free will in the house and ending his eldest son, Gattu's promising cricket career prematurely, asserting that "his son will never play for England."
Cue flash forward, and we come out seventeen years later, with Gattu now a sober, quiet shopkeeper, slave to his father's will, though he still secretly nurses his sporting dreams. Gattu has also become the object of his entire family's taunts, the entire extended assortment in 'Patiala House', 'chachas', 'chachis' and cousins unwilling to speak out for their dreams against 'bauji'. His only pillar of strength is his mother, herself a mute spectator to her husband's dictatorship.
The rest of the film revolves around the unexpected second chance that Gattu, now Parghat Singh Kahlon, gets in the most unexpected of ways and how the rest of the family choose to rebel against Gurtej, vicariously through him.
The strength of the film rests squarely on Akshay's and Rishi's stellar performances. While Rishi is superbly convincing as the acid tongued, tyrannically passionate 'bauji', Akshay turns in what could possibly be his career's best performance as Parghat, aka Gattu. Funny as it may sound, the power in his underplayed portrayal of Gattu cannot be overstated. Akshay conveys the suffering of his character here as much through silence as he does through words. Superb stuff, this.
Though Anushka plays it up to her effervescent best, her role of Simran, as Gattu's love interest, is a bit of a misstep by the makers here. While the idea of a catalyst for Parghat's actions is good, the back story she's given is quite unnecessary and goes nowhere as the story wraps up. Dimple Kapadia is also quite underutilised in her role as Mrs. Kahlon, coming into her own only in the final few scenes of the film; otherwise limited to quite glances throughout.
The remaining characters in the story are too many to name. Soni Razdan, Hard Kaur, Jeneva Talwar, Armaan Kirmani, Tinnu Anand and others, all turn in a good showing, although they get just a few scenes here and there to show off their histrionics. A special mention goes to the numerous cricketing cameos by the likes of ex England captain Naser Hussain, Andrew Symonds, David Gower, Nikhil Chopra and Sanjay Manjrekar, though none of them, save the Hindi speaking Hussain, have any acting they need to do.
Shankar Ehsaan Loy, as always, turn in their best work for director Nikhil Advani, who uses their music to maximum effect. Shafqat Amanat Ali's 'kyun main jaagoon' comes in at more than a few points in the narrative, alternately tearjerking and inspiring at other times. Tracks like 'tumba tumba' and 'rola pa gaya' also add their bit of energy to the film.
'Patiala House' is a great return to form for Nikhil Advani after his missteps in 'Salaam E Ishq' and 'Chandni Chowk To China'. His partner Anvita Dutt Guptan and he construct their screenplay with an inspired touch here, never letting any element overpower another. So, while it may have been marketed as a film about cricket, 'Patiala House' turns out to be as much a drama about rebelling against a tyrant, as much a study of the mindsets in expat communities and just a much a story about a character's coming of age.
Sure, the storyline could have been tauter, without stretching the love angle between Gattu and Simran, nor trying to bring in the unnecessary comedic bits in the second half with the family's attempts to keep Gattu's cricketing career from 'bauji'. But the fact that Advani and Guptan still manage to hold the audiences' rapt attention is to their credit.
'Patiala House' belongs completely to Rishi Kapoor's 'bauji' and Akshay Kumar's Gattu. For Akki, this is especially important as it shows off his superb acting range at a time when he is increasingly getting typecast as an actor known for rather mediocre comic fare. Finally, after the bouncers that his previous two films turned out to be, Nikhil Advani finally snags the wicket with this one. 'Patiala House' is a great delivery from the director.
movie rating is 3.5/5, rated and movie review by MovieTalkies
Story: Pargat Singh Kahlon (Akshay Kumar) is a shadow of a man. Why? Because his autocratic dad (Rishi Kapoor), scarred by the racist attacks against Indians in Southall, has forced his talented pace bowler son to run a grocery store rather than play cricket for the gora (read England) team. Pargat aka Gattu ends up as a puppet on a chain and perks up only when local firebrand Simran (Anushka Sharma) edges him on towards a mini rebellion.
Movie Review: It doesn't take much for lost, lonesome and loser Gattu to metarmophose into super cool Kaali, the bowler who leads a down and out England cricket team to umpteen victories. All it takes is a family counselling session by a bunch of restless yuppies in Patiala House -- the extended family mansion in Southall -- who urge our hero to rise up against Bauji, the in-house Hitler and realise his dreams. He would thereby set a precedent for the rest of the suppressed souls who would prefer to become chefs, rap artists, film makers and fashion designers rather than churn out jalebis or sing bhajans as per the patriarch's wishes. Of course, the major push -- and inspiration -- comes from the somewhat badnam Munni of Southall, Anushka Sharma, who apart from being a big tease, is an accomplished motivator too.
But yes, it does take too long for the transformation of our hero who moves from the background to the foreground after plodding through a somewhat tedious plot which is bogged down by predictability. Every little twist and turn of this self-realisation soap opera is pre-ordained and terribly familiar. You know our hero is going to stand tall in the final moments of a faltering match, despite the aggro stance of a scowling Andrew Symmonds. You know the great Indian parivar is going to stick together, come what may. And you know Hitler will be all heart after a life-threatening heart attack.
So what stands out in this melee of poorly-sketched characters and a stodgy plot? It's the performances. Akshay Kumar refreshingly dons the actor avatar once again, setting aside his overdone comic hero cloak which had begun to fray with overuse. His Gattu is both poised and poignant, brimming over with restraint: a giant in repose. Anushka Sharma's vivacity may have an after taste of her bubbling Band Baaja Baraat act but her passage from Janakpuri's dhinchak girl to Southall's siren is sweet and smooth. Watch out for the girl; she's truly on a roll. Rishi Kapoor, as always, is mesmerising on screen and never ever strikes a false note. But Dimple Kapadia does end up a bit underutilised, as do the rest of the ensemble cast. Shankar-Ehsan-Loy's music has a zingy beat to it, specially in the title track.
Patiala House may not match up to his debut film, Kal Ho Na Ho, but director Nikhil Advani does make amends for the disastrous Chandni Chowk to China. Watch this family drama for its redefinition of patriotism in a going-global age, dominated by the growing Indian diaspora.
Bijis, baujis, bhangra. It's a tried and tested formula that doesn't always work. But add to it Bollywood's new favourite Punjabi kudi Anushka Sharma and lots of cricket on the eve of the cricket World Cup and it's a surprisingly watchable movie. Ah yes it has Akshay Kumar but director Nikhil Advani has very wisely disguised that fact by giving him minimal dialogues and maximum fast bowling (Akshay does look good bowling flat out).
And thank God for it. Akshay plays the strong silent suffering type, Parghat Singh Kahlon, who gave up his dream of playing for England because his father, the self-appointed sarpanch of Southhall, thinks all goras are evil (yes shades of Amrish Puri in everyone's favourite Punjabi film, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge). There's his father Rishi Kapoor, who is trapped in 60s England where the English are racist and the Indians don't own half of Kensington. And his mother Dimple Kapadia, the equally silent type, who doesn't utter a word as her son's dream of playing for the goras (England) is cruelly quashed.
Anyway to cut a long story short, Gattu (for that is Akshay's nickname in the movie) meets the spunky Anushka Sharma, who ran away briefly to try and become a heroine in Bollywood. Now she cuts hair in a saloon and lives with her friend's 12-year-old cricket mad son. She makes Akshay believe anything is possible--even wearing tight T-shirts, shiny blazers, drinking shots and dancing to Punjabi rap (yes, it's that sort of a movie where the lead stars discover themselves only under influence--cue Kal Ho Naa Ho and Namaste London).
There's an army of other minor stars, who all play various chachajis, chachijis, and bachchajis. And there's an even larger army of cricketers, from West Indies' Kieron Pollard to Australian Andrew Symonds and Dirk Nannes. Former players Nasser Hussain, David Gower and Graham Gooch play English selectors. The point of the movie is to bring Master Akshay back to the crease to play for England 17 years after he gave up his dream to run a shop in Southhall. Master Akshay will of course achieve it and help England win the T-20 World Cup but not before various things happen--Hard Kaur is transformed from bhajan singer to rapper, Anushka Sharma proves yet again why she is the brightest spark among the younger actresses and Akshay proves that less is more when it comes to his acting.
Everyone eats rajma chawal, hopes for a Yash Copra wedding, has an alter ego, and Akshay gets a chance to say his one big speech--this one is about aap jee sakte hain, hamen to sirf saans lene ki permission hai. With lines written in Yash Chopra land--kal chup ek biwi thi, aaj bol ek maa rahi hai; and gaaliyon ka shor taaliyon main chhup jayega--and enough cricket to keep the kids happy, this is a family drama for the family.
After the Box Office disaster of ‘Tees Maar Khan’, Akshay Kumar has delivered a huge six with ‘Patiala House’. Directed by Nikhil Advani, starring Akshay Kumar, Anushka Sharma, Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia, ‘Patiala House’ is a fun filled family film.
‘Patiala House’ is the story of Gattu (Akshay Kumar), who is torn between his passion – cricket and his father’s (Rishi Kapoor) wishes. ‘Patiala House’ revolves around Bauji (Rishi Kapoor), who lives with his large family in London’s Southall area and has a severe dislike for Englishmen. He is right in a way because he has been a victim of racial attacks and was also jailed for violence against the firangs. He has a deep seated hatred against goras and cannot stand the sight of his son, who turns into a cricket prodigy, playing for the English team.
If Bauji is nearly psychotic in his hatred for Englishmen, his family is exactly opposite of him, following Gattu’s example and throttling our old man’s desires. In ‘Patiala House’, each person lives his own dreams, if someone wants to become a chef, another wants to be a cool rapper. However, no one is ready to come out of the closet until Simran (Anushka Sharma) enters the scene and pushes Gattu and his sweet family into rebellion against Bauji’s dictatorship.
As far the film goes, ‘Patiala House’ has every ingredient that makes it work at the Box Office for the movie and its characters are emotionally and psychologically convincing and plausible. The story is one tight narrative without much digression.
Akshay Kumar is completely in sync with his character and looks every bit convincing as a cricketer. However, Rishi Kapoor as Bauji looks maddening at times, given his uncalled anger and fiery antics.
Given such a large number of characters, ‘Patiala House’ could end up being a long and tedious affair, but kudos to Advani for keeping it light, tight, complete with clear and coherent narrative.
Well, for Akshay Kumar fans, ‘Patiala House’ can be a rare treat. We are sure Akshay will get a welcome respite with the Box Office success of ‘Patiala House’.
Patiala House gets going only after the interval. Till then, writers Anvita Dutt Guptan and Nikhil Advani (also the director) take forever to set up the story, based in London’s Southall area.
Parghat Singh Kahlon aka Gattu (Kumar) is the timorous offspring of Gurtej Kahlon aka Bhauji (Kapoor), who hates the goras for racist attacks on Sikhs, one of which killed a family member years ago. As a teenager, Gattu was the next big thing in English cricket but had to give up his dream because Bhauji was against it.
Seventeen years later, Gattu is lost — a “shadow of a man”, as one of his cousins says. He is the oldest among 20 or so cousins, who live together in Patiala House under the tyrannical rule of Bhauji. The cousins hate Gattu for never standing up for himself, making their life miserable in return.
An opportunity to represent England and some egging on by Simran (naam toh suna hoga?) leads to Gattu giving his dream another shot. But will Bhauji come in the way again?
Patiala House is Akshay Kumar’s best film in recent years, but then you know what the competition has been like. The film has a few things going for it, even as Advani and Guptan try their best to ruin the material at hand.
On one hand, the presence of real cricketers like Andrew Symonds, Herschelle Gibbs, Kieron Pollard and Graham Gooch adds some authenticity to the proceedings. But then you have ex-English cricketer Nasser Hussain speaking in Hindi, which reminds you of those firang junior artists in films about the British Raj.
Also, you are not surprised that English cricket isn’t doing well — getting a spot in the team seems like a walk in the park, even for a cricketer well past his Best Before date.
While the melodrama tugs at your heartstrings in places, Advani chooses hyperbole over subtlety, a trait best left behind in the 1990s. Also, clichés and extremes abound.
Gattu is the underdog — we get that — and the story rests on him realising his dream, but the obvious effort to make him out to be a loser almost through the film seems forced.
And impossible as it may seem, Akshay Kumar overdoes the ‘underplaying the role’ bit most of the time. Having said that, he shines in certain scenes, giving a glimpse, after ages, of what he is capable of as an actor.
The portions about the fight against racism waged by the younger Gurtej Kahlon (Kumud Mishra, impressive in a bit role) are interesting.
The interactions between the cousins, and Gattu’s scenes with the little boy who tries to persuade him to live his dreams, are cute.
The cricket scenes are — thank heavens — tastefully executed, though the climax could have been more exhilarating.
Sharma as Simran breathes life into every scene she appears in, her zest complimenting Kumar's quite demeanour.
Kapoor suffers on account of poor characterisation, but pro that he is, he manages to salvage things to a large extent. Kapadia’s presence in a role that is an almost exact replica of Jaya Bachchan’s in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham is confounding.
The thing that works in Patiala House’s favour is that you walk in to watch an Akshay Kumar film with such low expectations nowadays that a film bordering on mediocrity is a pleasant surprise. Patiala House falls in a similar bracket, as Advani throws away the opportunity to make a real tearjerker.
Give the film a shot if formulaic melodrama is your thing. Patiala House has it in abundance.
The ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 is around the corner. The excitement among fans is humongous as we are a few days away from the opening match. So it's perhaps a great move to release a film with a cricket theme, just before the big tournament.
While we've seen many films based on cricket (LAGAAN, VICTORY, IQBAL), PATIALA HOUSE is different as it's primarily a father-son conflict, having cricket as it's backdrop.
34-year-old Parghat Singh Kahlon aka Gattu (Akshay Kumar) had given up his dreams due to his authoritarian father Gurtej Kahlon (Rishi Kapoor), 17 years ago. Despite being an excellent fast bowler, he wasn't allowed to play for Firangis (England) as their family was subjected to racist attacks many years back. Gurutej turned very aggressive post the incident and used to raise his hand or voice at the drop of a hat.
Gattu, on the other hand, has been living a mediocre life, working in a Southhall corner store for years now. The younger generation of his family blames him for setting the wrong example.
Still not over with his love for the game, Gattu discreetly practices bowling when no one is around. His neighbour friend Simran (Anushka Sharma) and her kid brother (Z) are determined to get Gattu's life back on track. Will he get his life back is what forms the rest of the story.
Nikhil Advani keeps the narrative to the point, avoiding all the redundancies in the first half. The characters and their conflicts are well established. It's a tough situation if you are in the shoes of Gattu and have to choose between your dreams and family. You really do feel for Gattu and his predicament. Simran and Zee making a spineless Gattu realise the importance of chasing dreams is inspiring. Their characters act as catalysts in moving the story ahead.
Post the interval, the Nikhil goes a bit wayward in his direction. The entire plan and more so its execution is just too convenient. The cricket scenes, though not bad, don't arouse the excitement that LAGAAN immaculately did.
The plot is no doubt predictable. You roughly know what will happen in the end. But how Nikhil reaches there is plausible. There's an endearing scene just before the interval where Priti Kahlon (Jeneva Talwar) tells Gattu that the Britishers treat Indians as equals and have hence offered him a place in their team. The lighter moments manage to bring a smile.
Manan Sagar's editing is good but the second half could have been much tighter. Cinematography by Santosh Thundiyil is nice. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's music goes well with the film.
Akshay Kumar, teaming up with Nikhil after CHADNI CHOWK TO CHINA, is first-rate as he delivers a very restrained performance. He looks convincing as a cricketer and never goes overboard. Rishi Kapoor plays his role to perfection. Anushka Sharma is refreshingly good and is at her chirpiest best. The boy who plays Zee is completely natural. Dimple Kapadia doesn't have much scope. Tinu Anand is good. Thankfully, the cricketers (Andrew Symonds, Herschelle Gibbs, Kieron Pollard) are just seen playing cricket and don't mouth dialogues. All the other characters are fine in their small roles.
PATIALA HOUSE is a heart-warming drama. Do pay a visit to this house with your family. A fun time is guaranteed.
Some things never change. One of them is our obsession with drama.
Even today the minute the besieged hero's displeased father, mother, wife or girlfriend decide to let bygones be bygones and show up to watch him play a crucial game, perform at a concert or deliver a speech, he rocks the show. And after a L-O-T of hullaballoo and nail-biting tension, we all get what we came for -- a happy ending.
Filmmaker Nikhil Advani delivers one with tons of pomp, colour and gusto in Patiala House, a film that's surprisingly alright in spite of the obviousness of its generic plot and sloppy screenplay by Advani and Anvita Dutt, also the lyricist in the enterprise.
A two-in-one yarn that double-knits father-son melodrama with the aspirations of an ageing fast bowler, Patiala House maintains a tone that is singularly sentimental.
Being a made-in-Bollywood, boisterous Sikh family settled in London's Southall suburb with a title like Patiala House merits it abundant over-the-top action, plush weddings, bhangra shangra, the works. And Rishi Kapoor's Kahlon khandaan doesn't stop at anything to gratify. The screen is literally toppling with people, there are just too many family members to keep count or care a dime.
All you really need to know is the extended family is a frustrated lot barred from doing things they like, pursuing careers, choosing life partners, etc led by a docile doormat, Gattu.
Akshay Kumar as Gattu is convincingly morose for a good 90 minutes of Patiala House's two and a half hours running time. You'd think his nick name has something to do with it. But no, as the grainy flashbacks reveal he's nursed a lifelong dream to fast bowl for England's cricket side, which is cut short after his Bauji says not happening and insists he turns shopkeeper instead. Seriously, how Gattu...er...dumb is that?
What makes this clamour and clutter in an implausible balle balle scenario worth a watch is that the actors -- irrespective of their stature or screen time -- keep the madness in control. The frenzy is of the frothy sorts with Anushka Sharma (as Akshay Kumar's effervescent substitute of Bournvita/Gatorade/any metaphor for energy who gets to mouth Tolkienesque lines like 'Do what you were born to do') contributing a great deal of it, and the excitement to click as a team appears genuine.
The same cannot be said about Rishi's agenda as the chauvinistic bully spoiling the picture. A sketchily written part dilutes his aggressive patriotism and anti-racial stand into a comical, pig-headed Scrooge yet to come-of-age.
Stern dads are not a rarity in our films. If Amrish Puri had a looming presence and intimidating baritone to substantiate his grouchy Bauji, Ronit Roy worked superbly as a complex albeit questionable father figure in Udaan. Rishi, however, doesn't have much meat to sink his teeth into.
Shortcomings of the script aside, he builds a forceful, daunting air, quite the Bauji-e-azam, reminiscent of his grandfather Prithviraj Kapoor.
Most of Patiala House's heart comes from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's tender piano theme and Akshay Kumar's measured and matured delivery as a compliant son with a burning desire to play cricket although he's (a rather convincing) 34 years old.
And so Patiala House turns into a Gurinder-less Bend it like Beckham meets kind of a Goodbye, Lenin! The foolhardiness works purely on the strength of Akshay's vulnerability and restraint. He succeeds in making a connect with the viewer triggering an urge to strangle him when he's passive, cheer for him when he clean bowls Andrew Symonds or takes a Mohammad Azharuddin-inspired catch and reach out when he breaks into unbridled tears of snub or humiliation. If 'filmi' still excites you, you'll enjoy the certainty of it all. If not, you probably never read this.
Quite conveniently, a politically correct Advani never shows Akshay playing against India . Predictably, the men in blue do march to victory; it's just a few shades darker than I would have liked to cheer for.
The subject is a grim one. A patriarch Bauji (Rishi Kapoor) who lives in London's Southhall (called the "sarpanch of Southhall") hates whites for their discrimination against Indians.
That was a long time ago when aggressive local British youth would harm immigrant Indians. Things are different now: Southhall is a booming city-within-a-city and formidable in its own right.
But Bauji is stuck in a time warp. And his family suffers because of it. Now that's where the film isn't clear.
As per the narrative, Bauji has throttled the dreams of son Gattu (Akshay Kumar) who, as a British citizen, wanted to play for the English cricket team.
For his reverse-racism, Bauji proclaims in a community meet that his son, a talented player with a bright future, will never play for England. Naturally, being a British citizen, he can't play for India either. His cricketing career is over before it started and Gattu now spends his days working at the family supermarket.
The extended family, comprising a bunch of stereotypes, are enraged at Gattu. They feel that because of Gattu sacrificing his dream, Babuji uses his example to thwart theirs too. So while Komal (Hard Kaur) wants to be a rap star and has to sing bhajans, a wannabe chef is frying jalebis, and a girl who has a British boyfriend may have to marry a rich community find.
The miserable family holds Gattu responsible as Bauji puts a hold on their dreams put on hold. And so, he is treated like an outcast.
Enter the complete opposite, super-sparkly Simran (Anushka Sharma, seriously typecast) who talks non-stop, smiles too much and is the archetypal representation of a happy-go-lucky Punjabi girl.
When Gattu gets another shot at playing for the London team (he's 34 at the time, and it's shown to be as easy as buying cake), Simran encourages him.
She gives Gattu psycho-babble talks about how he is "drowning" and gears up the entire family to encourage him. They tell him he ought to do it for the sake of their dreams too.
So then on the gang goes on to manipulate what Babuji, a cricket aficionado, reads or hears about the new Indian player on the British team. The ending is predictable, so no surprises there.
The performances are competent: Akshay Kumar is earnest as the spineless son although the hunched back and constant forlorn face is a bit much.
Anushka Sharma lights up the screen, but again is unstoppably upbeat and smiley. This is a fault of the characterisation more than the actors.
Rishi Kapoor makes for a great patriarch with his upturned moustache and rumbling voice.
Dimple Kapadia is tragically wasted in the role, where she has perhaps one dialogue.
The supporting cast does well, but it is painful to see the graceful Soni Razdan portrayed as a Punjabi aunt who’s into garish clothes and wigs.
Director Nikhil Advani's (Kal Ho Na Ho, Salaam-e-Ishq, Chandni Chowk to China) storytelling is archaic and simplistic.
For example, when Gattu explains his predicament to Simran saying that his dad's heart would break if he played cricket, you actually hear a thunder-and-lightening sound effect.
Songs by Shankar Ehsaan Loy are foot-tapping and fun while they last. Santosh Thundiyil's cinematography deserves special mention.
So director Nikhil Advani makes a cocktail of elements that have known to work with the Indian viewers: there’s the A-list actors, a shaadi, fast-paced songs, drama and of course, cricket.
It's a decent cocktail, but how many times are viewers expected to order the same thing?
A while ago, I posed a question on Twitter and Facebook, asking people what their expectations were from PATIALA HOUSE. The reaction ranged from encouraging and affirmative to unenthusiastic and unexciting. A wide number of caustic and scathing comments were a consequence of Akshay Kumar's last year's releases, namely KHATTA MEETHA, ACTION REPLAYY and TEES MAAR KHAN. Also, a few called it similar to DE DHANA DHAN GOAL, while some even compared it with NAMASTEY LONDON.
In fact, a lot many factors go against PATIALA HOUSE. Director Nikihil Advani and Akshay's last outing together, the infamous CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA, remains a favorite punching bag to this day. Besides, PATIALA HOUSE comes at a time when people have had an overdose of Akshay starrers. I reiterate, there ought to be at least six months' gap between two films of a major star, while this is Akshay's fourth release in six months [KHATTA MEETHA - 23 July, ACTION REPLAYY - 5 November and TEES MAAR KHAN - 24 December]. Moreover, the film opens exactly one week before the keenly anticipated World Cup cricket matches and coupled with that, it will have no breathing space as the very next week witnesses the release of another much-awaited film 7 KHOON MAAF. Expecting PATIALA HOUSE to overcome these hurdles is tough, mainly when the chips are down!
The chips are down also because people assume PATIALA HOUSE to be something which it is not. Let me clarify that PATIALA HOUSE is not an 'extension' of Akshay's previous films. Sure, PATIALA HOUSE has its share of humorous moments, but the humor is of the subtle kind here. Nor can one compare it to NAMASTEY LONDON, since that film was more of a love story between a British-born Indian and a desi Indian, while PATIALA HOUSE is more of an inspirational film. It's about chasing your dreams as and when you get another opportunity, if you don't succeed the first time.
Essentially, PATIALA HOUSE is a somber film, with the focal point being drama and histrionics rather than the slapstick wit or in-your-face comedy that one anticipates from an Akshay starrer. It's more about familial bonding, with a sport [cricket] interwoven in the screenplay. This one doesn't tickle your funny bone; instead it moistens your eyes thanks to the poignant moments in the narrative, especially the penultimate moments of the film. Those exhausted of watching Akshay getting typecast in similar genre films will drop the charges while watching this one. This is, without a shred of doubt, amongst Akshay's finest performances.
On the flip side, the screenplay of PATIALA HOUSE is erratic - vacillating between engaging to run of the mill to flaccid moments. In fact, a chunk involving the game plan - the family trying various gimmicks and ploys to conceal the truth from Rishi Kapoor - is lame and bizarre. Ditto for the romance between Akshay and Anushka; it comes across as half-baked and looks tame. Even the members of the family, most of them, have ill-defined characters. Fortunately, these deficiencies get camouflaged as the father and son get set for an emotional showdown in the pre-climax. From this point onwards, right till the euphoric victory, the film reaches its pinnacle.
Final word? PATIALA HOUSE is an underdog. The expectations are zilch, the odds are not in its favor, but the film throws a pleasant surprise. Go for it!
At Patiala House lives the Kahlon family ruled by Bauji [Rishi Kapoor]. They follow his diktats as he tries to hold onto his 'Indian values' in the land of the goras. The younger generation at Patiala House wants to assert themselves and follow their dreams, but is held back by their respect and love for Bauji and the shining example of Bauji's eldest son, Parghat Singh Kahlon aka Gattu [Akshay Kumar].
Gattu's decision to turn cricketer and play for England is unacceptable to Bauji, who tears his dream apart right in front of his eyes. A dejected Gattu decides to live the life that his father forces upon him. Gattu genuinely cares and respects his father's opinion, so much that he is prepared to let his own dream be sacrificed in the process. Will Bauji loosen his hold and let the youngsters find their own dreams, instead of following his? Will Gattu get a second chance to live his life?
There's no denying that the story of PATIALA HOUSE reminds you of Gurinder Chadha's BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, wherein Parminder Nagra, as the second-generation Sikh girl, defied her parents' wishes to play football. However, PATIALA HOUSE is a film about attachments, affiliations and familial bonding, about respect and trying to adjust to contradictory values that generally crop up when one relocates to another country. More importantly, it's about dreams and aspirations and how fate offers you a second chance in life. PATIALA HOUSE is not one of those atypical mass entertainers that focuses only on providing entertainment, while the story takes a complete backseat. This one, thankfully, has a story to tell. And an interesting one, frankly. Also, as much as this film focuses on the relationship between the father and son, it also weaves the popular sport well in the narrative and that makes for an interesting viewing. However, the cricket factor is subsidiary; the focal point remains the father-son conflict. Nikhil Advani ensures that beneath the familial bonding and curbed aspirations, there's an underlined message as well: Chase you dreams, don't give up, you live only once!
The film has some striking moments and I would like to single out the ones when writers Nikhil Advani and Anvita Dutt Guptan take you back in time to a younger Rishi Kapoor and Akshay's childhood. The racist attacks and how it impacts the family is straight out of life. Besides, the vital sequence in the film - Rishi commands the young Akshay [enacted by Usman Qureshi] to abandon his plans of playing for England - is utmost convincing. The climax, of course, is powerful and the hallmark of this enterprise. It evokes emotions on dual levels - when the father decides to watch his son play cricket and also when Akshay wins the match for England. Ideally, the film should've concluded on this euphoric note, but the song thereafter lessens the impact of the exhilarated climax.
Director Nikhil Advani regains his position as a compelling storyteller, which he had lost post SALAAM-E-ISHQ and CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA. He illustrates his proficiency in the dramatic portions, handling the father-son sequences with dexterity. The soundtrack [music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy] is melodic, with 'Kyun Main Jaagoon' being the best track of the enterprise. The song conveys the spirit of the film well. The placement of 'Laungda Lashkara' may be debatable, but the song is tuneful nonetheless. The background score [also by S-E-L] is classy. Santosh Thundiyil's cinematography is stunning.
Gattu is a character anyone can relate to or empathize with and to portray that convincingly is indeed difficult, but Akshay plays this part with rare maturity. It's a complex role to portray since he has to conceal the emotional turmoil he is experiencing within, yet wear a cheery expression against all adversities. The viewer is sure to connect directly and indirectly with this character, even if he/she may have not have experienced what he does in this film. Also, Akshay ensures that his bowling skills look absolutely realistic on screen and he does justice to the sport.
Rishi Kapoor, cast as the patriarch of a family settled in U.K., gets it right yet again. Note his dialect and body language in particular. As Bauji, the veteran actor delivers a sparkling performance, which would rank amongst his superlative work when you look back at his illustrious career. Dimple Kapadia doesn't really get much opportunity initially, but is wonderful in the penultimate sequence when she confronts Rishi Kapoor.
Anushka is an integral part of the story. She is Akshay's shoulder, an unconditional support for him and she fits perfectly into her character. Amongst the plethora of actors, Armaan Kirmani [as Akshay's brother] is excellent, Jeneva Talwar [as Armaan's pregnant wife, Akshay's sis-in-law] is top notch and Usman Qureshi [essaying Akshay's earlier years] is natural. Tinnu Anand is competent, as always. Prem Chopra is okay. Soni Razdan does a fair job. The kid who plays Anushka's brother is smart.
On the whole, PATIALA HOUSE is a film about attachments, affiliations and familial bonding. It's a compelling watch, more for its drama and histrionics than anything else. It's a film that explores the father-son relationship and not just those in India, but around the world should be able to relate to the predicament depicted in this film. The hallmark of the film is the merging of its engaging drama with cricket and that's what makes this product stand out from the earlier Akshay starrers. Especially its penultimate 30 minutes, which is the brightest spot of this enterprise. If the movie succeeds in pulling the heartstrings of the moviegoer, it would propel Akshay back in the same position he once was after the victory of NAMASTEY LONDON and SINGH IS KINNG.
Patiala House is the best work director Nikhil Advani and Akshay Kumar have done recently. It is an old-fashioned Hindi movie with big drama, solid dialogue-baazi and moments that are genuinely moving and rousing.
Akshay as Gattu, a forlorn man who has watched his dreams die, is effectively restrained and refreshingly sincere. But all of this is servicing a story that is so silly and strained that it’s hard to get swept up in the histrionics.
The central conflict in the film is between Gattu and his father, Bauji, played by Rishi Kapoor. Bauji seems like a long-lost sibling of Chaudhary Baldev Singh, the stern patriarch from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jeyenge.
Bauji also lives in London’s Southall area and has never assimilated into his adopted country. He suffered racial attacks, was jailed for violence against ‘goras’ and now hates them with such a passion that he prefers that his son, who is a cricket prodigy waste his life running a convenience store than play for the English team.
Honestly, I couldn’t make sense of this. If Bauji dislikes everything English, why doesn’t he move back to the motherland? And if he persists in such borderline-psychotic behavior, why doesn’t the gigantic joint family of Patiala House, which includes his wife, played by Dimple Kapadia, various aunts, nephews and nieces, stop him.
Instead everybody in the family follows Gattu’s dreary example and throttles their desires.
Each one has ambitions to be something suitably different – chef, filmmaker, rapper – but each one stays quiet until the fiery Simran, played by a hyper Anushka Sharma, prods Gattu and eventually the family into rebellion.
Advani who co-wrote the screenplay with Anvita Dutt, works hard to invest plausibility and emotional heft into the tale. But the plot just gets more and more far-fetched.
At one point, Gattu is the cricket team’s most valuable player – a man celebrated by the entire country but Bauji or the Sarpanch of Southall, as Gattu calls him, doesn’t have a clue. These gigantic loopholes hobble Patiala House.
As does the lazy writing – none of the other family members make an impression and Bauji is such an exasperating character that even Rishi Kapoor can’t humanise him.
As a result of which, Patiala House never soars but it is a notch better than the mediocre fare that we see every week. If you have patience and not much else going on, check it out.