Ashwni Dhir’s Son of Sardaar is like lassi gone rancid. The most clichéd Punjabi cocktail stripped of even its inane, familiar charm—when bhangra sounds like raspy cacophony and humour intending to be self-deprecatory amazes with its artlessness and dearth of wit.
The men are a despicable, dumb lot riding on horses and multicoloured, age-old ideas of familial rivalry and revenge by murder are glorified to a ridiculous degree. Worst of all, its action sequences, dependent entirely on special effects, are crude and gimmicky—in technical finesse, Son of Sardaar is like a bad 1980s Bollywood film. A particularly grating sequence involves the Punjabi hero’s unfurling turban, looking exactly like glossy paper, flinging hulky non-Punjabi, mostly dark-skinned and white-skinned “foreigners”, around inside a London bar. This is the film’s idea of Punjabi machismo. The bizarreness is not intentionally or unintentionally funny.
Ajay Devgn plays Jassi, who returns from London to his ancestral village because he has to stake claim to an ancestral property. His family has had a history of ruthless violence against the village’s most famous and ruling family, led by Billu Paaji (Sanjay Dutt). Billu awaits the return of Jassi because he has to avenge the killing of his brother by Jassi’s father, who was killed in a massacre carried out with swords and axes. In a predictable turn of events, Jassi meets Sukh (Sonakshi Sinha), Billu’s younger sister, during his train journey to Punjab. They are smitten with each other.
In the village, when Jassi accidentally enters the home of the goons whose only purpose in life is his murder, he resorts to the only means he has to protect himself—staying in, because this family does not harm its guests. Tanuja plays the family’s demented matriarch. Juhi Chawla plays the only unique role in the film—a woman in love with Billu, who has vowed not to marry until he avenges the killing of his kin. An actor with proven talent for comedy, Chawla makes Pammi, her character, pathetic as well as feisty.
Devgn, Dutt and Sinha, the lead actors, are uninspired and go through the film like a rigmarole—mouthing loud dialogues like robots in a stale Punjabi scheme of things.
Son of Sardaar is the worst portrayal of Punjabiyat in Hindi cinema.
Son of Sardaar released in theatres on Tuesday.