Son of Sardar (2012)

Don’t mess with a Sardar.

That’s the message that Aswini Dhir’s Son of Sardar, tries to engrave in you, repeating itself overtly and covertly throughout the film. Dhir puts the Sardars at the fore-front and center in this ludicrous action-comedy, rendering them as the large-hearted and fearless heroes, capable of performing all kinds of logic and gravity defying stunts.

Ajay Devgan stars as Jassi Randhawa, a guy living in London who is visiting his hometown Punjab to inherit his property, after the death of his father. But little does he know about Balwinder Sandhu (Sanjay Dutt), who is all set to kill Jassi, to avenge his brother’s murder in the hands of Jassi’s father, 12 years ago. Unknowingly, Jassi befriends Balwinder’s niece (a energetic Sonakshi Sinha) on the train journey home. Jassi  remains safe as long as he’s at the Sandhu home, because Balwinder and his bloodthirsty nephews won’t lift a finger on a guest.

Judged even by the gauge of a ‘leave-your-brains-behind’ entertainer, Son of Sardaar falls significantly short, particularly because it wants to be too many things all at once. Dhir mines the premise for its comic potential, offering us some moments of inspired lunacy. But this is equally an action film, and the cartoonish set pieces fail to impress because they rely too heavily on gummy special effects. In one sequence, Dutt’s crony, pursuing Devgan on a motorbike, rams into onward traffic, and next thing you know, he’s riding the bike upside down mid-air. The same scene might have worked in a film directed by Rohit Shetty, who brings skill and a lightness of touch to comic-book action, but here such moments have little impact.

Amidst a sea of lazy performances, the film’s one bright spot is Juhi Chawla, amiable as Dutt’s desperate fiancee of 25 years, who woos him relentlessly with romantic overtures. Dutt, on the other hand, is stone-faced throughout the film, while the usually dependable Devgan appears lax with the slim material.

The remake of a Telegu hit, Maryaada Ramanna directed by SS Rajamouli, who himself whacked the premise from a 1920s Buster Keaton hit, Son of Sardaar is only sporadically entertaining, and peddles the same tired stereotypes of Punjab and Sikhs. A cameo by Salman Khan, sadly, doesn’t make up for the film’s many flaws.

I’m going with a substantial two out of five for director Ashwni Dhir’s Son of Sardaar. Even if you’re a fan of those loud 80s-style entertainers, this one demands a lot out of you.