Sardar Ka Grandson
Director: Kaashvie Nair
Writers: Kaashvie Nair, Anuja Chauhan, Amitosh Nagpal
Cinematography: Mahendra Shetty
Editing: Maahir Zaveri
Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Neena Gupta, Rakul Preet Singh, Aditi Rao Hydari and John Abraham
Streaming on: Netflix
The trailer of Sardar Ka Grandson had reminded me of a beautiful Google ad which showed two childhood friends separated during the Indo-Pak partition, reuniting with each other in their old age. The 2-3 minute ad spoke volumes of emotions for many people from both sides of the border. After watching Sardar Ka Grandson, I thought that the film could have been another beautiful commercial for a service which moves houses from one place to another. Instead director Kaashvie Nair along with writers Anuja Chauhan and Amitosh Nagpal have stretched it for 140 minutes.
Cinematographer Mahendra Shetty creates a dreamy, fairy-tale look and feel for the film. Editor Maahir Zaveri gets a few beautifully done sequences to cut between present day and flashback. The most notable and touching is the one which cuts back and forth between Young Sardar (Aditi Rao Hydari) entering India during partition and Amreek (Arjun Kapoor) entering Pakistan to fulfill old Sardar’s (Neena Gupta) wish.
Sardar is 90 years old, living in Amritsar, India, and diagnosed with a cancerous tumor. Her only wish before dying is to see her original house in Lahore, Pakistan. Amreek, her grandson, decides to fulfill her last. But Sardar cannot travel to Pakistan. She is blacklisted after she pulled a Pakistani official’s beard in a cricket stadium after he called cricketer Harbhajan Singh a ‘monkey’. Amreek, through his ex-fiance gets an idea to move the house from Lahore to Amritsar. Apparently, there are such services available. Sardar Ka Grandson is a winner on paper. But a sloppy screenplay, loud performances, a dangerous flirting with partition drama and comedy of errors hurts the film more than delivering the goods.
A better choice of actor for the male lead would have served the film better. Amreek played by Arjun Kapoor (struggling horribly with expressions) is a clumsy guy, always struggling to complete any task or goal or keep a promise. When his fiancé breaks up with him citing he can’t express emotions, to which he says he doesn’t have any. This irony makes the scene unintentionally funny. It is impossible to take Kapoor seriously as he struggles throughout the film as he has in most films in spite of an impressive start to his career (Ishaqzaade, 2 States, Finding Fanny). Neena Gupta is now the go-to actor for interesting female roles in her second innings. Here, she not only suffers from poor prosthetics but also a weakly written character.
Another veteran Kanwaljeet Singh makes good of whatever little that comes his way. Soni Razdan for some reason looks bewildered throughout the film. Kumud Mishra plays Mayor of Lahore as the roadblock to Amreek’s plans of fulfilling Sardar’s wish. Rakul Preet Singh as Amreek’s fiance Radha has a lovely presence but doesn’t have much to do in the film. Aditi Rao Hydari plays young Sardar and John Abraham plays her husband (he’s also producer of the film). None of the characters or actors’ performances stay with you.
One might argue that the film could have been much shorter for a better emotional resonance. But the film suffers more from its treatment than its length. It makes you feel like you’ve time-travelled but not for good reasons. Sardar Ka Grandson struggles to find its sur.