Look, Nikhil Advani is basically a director is looking to redeem himself and how. Let’s take a walk through his filmography. Kal Ho Na Ho put him on the map as a director who could do a thing or two. Then he gave us Salaam-E-Ishq. Should we say more? Despite the monstrous star cast, his rendition of the British hit Love Actually fell flat in its Hindi version. And just when you thought it couldn’t worst, he makes the impossible happen: Chandni Chowk to China. The film went on to win heaps of awards in the Worst Film category. It was then that the entire industry pretty much wrote off Advani as a worthy director. But this definitely did not stop him from wanting to make yet another film. With his new muse, Akshay Kumar in tow, he decided to go the Punjabi way and thus, he now gives you, Patiala House. In need of a dire hit so he can redeem himself as a director worthy of future films, Nikhil is convinced Patiala House will do just that for him. Question is, does he make the cut?
Gurtej Singh Kahlon (Rishi Kapoor) is happily settled in Southall, London with his family in a house he has named Patiala House. However, after his guru (Prem Chopra) is discriminated against by local firangs, he immediately detests the sight of Britishers. His home is filled with children, daughter-in-laws, son-in-laws and his “favorite” son Pargat (Akshay Kumar). With dreams in his eyes, Pargat has not been given any choice but to watch a shop while he would rather be bowling on the field and making his way to the English cricket team. It isn’t until he meets the vivacious Simran (Anushka Sharma) who teaches him how to stand up for himself and work toward his dream as he fixes Patiala House.
The problem with Patiala House is that it lacks direction. From the get go you believe the film is a family drama. No wait. It’s a comedy. Just when you’re about to take out your handkerchief, you put it right back. And this is biggest issue with the film. In fact, the film loiters between a Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum and Housefull. As a director, Advani tries his best to bring out the Punjabi-ness that is kal and aaj. In that aspect, he does well. He clearly understands the N.R.I mentality immaculately well and displays it with great nuance and ease. You are almost taken into a lifestyle that is unknown to most viewers. It is that aspect that keeps viewers glued to the film. The film is interesting as it explores a number of arenas: patriotism, the N.R.I. angle and the difference in generations. Of course, you can expect a wedding, a number of emotional scenes and a climax which ends with a nail biting (not really) climax.
Akshay Kumar is back. Thank goodness. No over the top screaming and shouting here; no siree. In fact, he makes a comeback with a performance that is subtle, underplayed and honest. Even in his comedy scenes, he seems more at ease with the character of Pargat. Anushka Sharma is getting more and more awesome with every film. Her confidence is remarkable even though the focus of the film is between a father and son. Rishi Kapoor is well, Rishi Kapoor. Perfectly played, the character of Gurtej Singh Kahlon, comes alive only because Mr. Kapoor is so superb. Dimple Kapadia too lends a good hand and isn’t ignored.
The music is interesting. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy try their best to keep it North Indian and in some segments they do well. Overall, Patiala House makes for an interesting watch. It is the first family drama this year and well, Nikhil Advani is a Karan Johar protégé. Need we say more?