Sardar Ka Grandson Hindi Movie Review
Kaashvie Nair's Sardar Ka Grandson is about a man who goes to Lahore to satisfy his granny's lifelong desire to see her old house there. Arjun Kapoor's Amreek Singh returns from the US after breaking up with his business partner lover, Radha, played by Rakul Preet Singh. Back home in Amritsar, Amreek's grandmother has a tumor, and she is longing to see her property in Lahore. Slapped with a prohibition from entering Pakistan, Sardar Kaur's only recourse here is her grandchild Amreek.
Sardar Kaur (Neena Gupta) spent her younger days in Lahore with her husband Gursher Singh (John Abraham) before the India-Pakistan divide. So, she has an emotional connection with the family property, a feeling that she still holds on to. Realizing the truth in his grandmother's love story, and knowing that she cannot cross the border, Amreek chooses to visit Lahore and physically transport the property to Amritsar. What happens after Amreek goes to the location in Pakistan forms the heart of Sardar Ka Grandson's story.
The Netflix film has a too-good-to-be-true story, full of cliched moments and broad beats. It is a similar story to Carl Fredricksen's tale from Disney Pixar's awe-inspiring animated film Up. Do not expect Pixar-level subtlety here. This is Bollywood professionalism trying every trick in the book to tug at our heartstrings.
The flashback scenes in Lahore show the events before partition as if those are parts of an apocalyptic film. The actors, John Abraham and Aditi Rao Hydari, as the young Sikh couple, behave and emote as if they are part of an end of the world movie. It is perhaps the worst portrayal of the India-Pakistan partition that you may find in all forms of art. John Abraham, who also co-produces the movie, finds a customary action sequence even in a film about family sentiments. Meanwhile, it seems that luck has not changed one bit for Aditi Rao Hydari's movie characters. She again plays a damsel in distress type of role here.
Arjun Kapoor may be charming in some parts, but he ultimately comes across as an incompetent choice for Sardar's grandson. Even when situations and emotions change drastically, there is not much difference in Kapoor's facial expressions. So, the makers' try to portray his character as more of a manchild, and it shows. They even support that attempt with a plot element about Sardar dropping a young Amreek onto the family furniture.
Neena Gupta is a terrific actor, but she is grossly underused as the film's titular character. This is the same Gupta from such terrific films as Mulk and Badhaai Ho. Gupta hardly has a challenging scene as Sardar Kaur here, but she is the charming soul of this film nonetheless.
Sardar Ka Grandson has some hummable songs, and an easy-going feel to it on the whole. You would not come away from this film feeling hatred for its characters. For instance, it does not engage in hate-mongering, unlike several other India-Pakistan stories made in Indian cinema. Rather, it promotes peace between the two countries. It is just that the broad strokes and the schmaltzy tone of the film hardly allow that idea to soar.