Sardar Ka Grandson movie review: Only Neena Gupta is worth our time in this latter-day Bajrangi Bhaijaan

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Sardar Ka Grandson movie cast: Arjun Kapoor, Neena Gupta, Kumud Mishra, Rakul Preet Singh, Kanwaljeet Singh, Soni Razdan, Divya Seth, Mir Mehroos, Aditi Rao Hydari, John Abraham
Sardar Ka Grandson movie director: Kaashvie Nair
Sardar Ka Grandson movie rating: 1.5 stars

The ‘dil-da’ connection between people who lived in pre-Partition Punjab pops up once again in ‘Sardar Ka Grandson’. Despite its frequent occurrence in the movies, this is a theme that never really gets old. And maybe shouldn’t, because heart-warming stories touching upon Indo-Pak pacifism can always bear repeating. But not if it is done in the dull, hackneyed manner that we see in this ‘dadi-pota’ love story, even if it is fronted by the always reliable Neena Gupta.

Old-time Lahore resident Sardar Kaur (Neena Gupta) now lives with her large family in Amritsar, the twin town across the border. But her failing heart still beats for her house in that Lahore ‘gali’: all she wants, she tells her ‘Amreeka’-returned grandson Amreek (Arjun Kapoor), to see it one last time. The rest of the film is about the grandson’s shenanigans in Lahore, where he meets (mostly) nice Pakistanis, and manages to trump the one grumpy, mean-spirited fellow (Kumud Mishra), who threatens to come in the way of Mission Homecoming.

Arjun Kapoor looks the ‘gabru Punjabi munda’. He nails the swept-back hair, puff jeans-jacket combo, and the ‘akkhad’ (obdurate) manner, but can’t do anything about his consistent impassivity. Despite its amiable spirit, and message of ‘aman and chaaiin’, the film never breaks free of its listless sit-com vibes, and a crucial plot point only causes our eyes to roll helplessly.

A bunch of competent actors are left floundering. Kanwaljeet Singh, as Gupta’s son (couldn’t they have got someone younger?) deserves better, so does Soni Razdan as the daughter-in-law, who has nothing to do. Neither does Rakul Preet Singh, who has shown she is capable of lifting the most formulaic flicks. Mishra scowls and sneers. Senior government functionaries on both sides of the border are given laughable lines, only one or two hitting the mark, especially the one which references Sunny Deol in ‘Gadar’, and his famous hand-pump scene.

Predictably, Neena Gupta is the only one worth our time in this latter-day ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, but even someone of her calibre needs to be written well. The only line which is half-way smart comes from a cheeky young Pakistani (Mir Mehroos) boy who owns a tea-stall, and turns out to be an all-round saviour. It’s about the deep connection between ‘chai-walas’ and Indians.

Sardar Ka Grandson is streaming on Netflix.

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