Watch it for Anushka and Akshay

Rating: 2.5/5

 From Kal Ho Na Ho to this Kahlon saga about baap-beta stand-offs, director Nikhil Advani has remained an undeviating votary of melodrama. With dogged determination, he has followed the one-point formula through one hit and two massive flops in his career: piping in as much melodrama and tear-jerking moments quintessential to the Hindi cinema genre that’s been dying for years but is yet not fully dead. Patiala House, in that sense, is another salaam-e-kitschby the director who refuses to throw in the towel or change course despite two rude awakenings by the box office.

Times change, people don’t. That’s precisely also the case with Gurtej Singh Kahlon (Rishi Kapoor) -- a proud Sikh in Southall, London -- who has nurtured a visceral hatred for the goras ever since a fatal racist attack on his late mentor (Prem Chopra) two decades ago. Over the years he has grown (rather degenerated) into an autocratic figure whose diktat is the final word in the household called Patiala House, bustling with daughters, ghar-jamais, cousins and a sheepish, servile beta Pargat (Akshay Kumar) who toe the line etched by their bigoted bauji.

Everyone has had to sacrifice some dream. Someone wanted to be a rapper, but is now doing kirtans; someone wanted to be a chef but is making jalebis; someone wanted to be a film-maker but is a cabbie. Most of all, Pargat has smothered his dream of being a pace bowler for England and is now content with an utterly boring and humdrum existence as the keeper of a provision store in Southall. All because of the gora-hating, venom-spewing, domineering bauji.

But then, a young girl Simran (Anushka Sharma) with a questionable reputation prods and dares Pargat to realize his dream and play for the English team against the wishes of his father.

For most of its running time, Patiala House keeps zigzagging between melodrama and light humour. One moment, Advani wants you to yank out your kerchiefs to dry the moistened eyes, the next he tries to regale you with the antics of the Punjabi brood with its bunch of wannabes. That’s the course the film charts for the first half before slipping into a somewhat silly zone in the second half, as the odds and sods of the Patiala House literally run from pillar to post to keep the truth hidden from bauji.

The ensuing drama involving its share of soul searching and the change of heart of leading characters is of the variety one might expect from a dumbed-down Karan Johar film. What still makes the movie work is the cast, most prominently Anushka Sharma. Playing a girl who is a powerhouse of energy, endlessly chattering away, Anushka is impressively confident and convincing in her performance. If not for her, Patiala House would have been a dull and dreary yawn-fest. Akshay Kumar is well restrained as a 34-year-old man resigned to his fate and merely going through the motions of his daily chores. Rishi Kapoor does a creditable job as the revolting patriarch, towering over the actors around him.

The music (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) lends a great deal to the movie without ever being of superlative quality. Ditto for the screenplay that’s full of filmi dialogues and a painfully predictable plot. The cricket match sequences in the last half hour do inject a lot of verve into the proceedings, but all in all Patiala House remains an invitation strictly to those who enjoy melodrama served desi style.



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