Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Son of Sardaar: Calculated entertainment
In a recent interview, a film-maker described a movie as one “made with a calculator”. He might just have been talking about Ashwni Dhir’s “Son of Sardaar”. For a film that talks of heart and emotion, this is a movie made with cold-hearted calculation.
“Son of Sardaar” is a Diwali film, made with the sole intention of making money during the festival of lights, and stuffed with what Bollywood thinks is the complete package — romance, comedy and action all in one movie. But what is it they say about being a jack of all trades?
Dhir isn’t too keen on being the master of this one. His story is one that could be stretched to fit any plot device, whether it is time for a song or some action.
Ajay Devgn plays Jaswinder Singh Randhawa aka Jassi — who goes to his father’s village to settle a property dispute. When asked to meet the local strongman, Jassi discovers that Billu (Sanjay Dutt) and his relatives are out to kill him.
Billu won’t harm him as long as Jassi is a guest at his house. When Jassi learns this, he makes every attempt to make sure he doesn’t cross the threshold, faking aches and employing gags to ensure he is always out of harm’s way.
None of the gags are that funny. This is the Punjab that Bollywood loves, and has showcased for many years. The men are beefy, hearty and laugh at anything. The women are coy, wear designer kurtas while cavorting in fields and seem to have no role other than being a plot device.
Of course, as expected, “Son of Sardaar” ends in a rush of sentiment, which if expressed in the first half-hour, would have saved us a lot of trouble.
Sonakshi Sinha plays the wallpaper heroine to the hilt, giving out shy smiles and dancing around a bonfire. Ajay Devgn flexes his muscles and has just enough comic timing to make you laugh sporadically. Sanjay Dutt as Billu will prompt you to ask one question — why is he in this movie?
Dhir and Devgn aren’t out to make a movie. They are out to manufacture box-office success in the festive season, when people are happy and willing to laugh at even the silliest jokes. And when you’ve calculated so much, how can you leave out the season’s biggest poster boy?
So when the credits roll, you have Salman Khan in a ridiculous item song which goes “Po Po Po” and ends with him, Devgn, Sonakshi Sinha and Dutt holding up a Happy Diwali card. If that isn’t cold-hearted, what is?