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Bollywood Movie Reviews

Polite Society, Sibling Revelry Too Clever For Its Own Good



Polite Society

Polite Society

Rating: ** ½

British-Pakistani  director  Nida Manzoor’s Polite Society is  anything but a polite  stab at social hypocrisies in the Asian-British community in England where over-madeup Aunties with expressions borrowed  from Bollywood’s yesteryears’ vamps Manorama and Padma Khanna, keep themselves busy worrying about young Pakistani(and by extension, Indian) girl’s marriages.

We recently had  another  far  more graceful comedy What’s Love Got To  Do With It  about the Pakistani experience in Briton. Polite Society bends(like Beckham) backwards to be hip and  trendy.

It is  a terribly chaotic  universe squeezed  into a corner by the capricious deeds/misdeeds  of two sisters  Riya(Priya Kansara) and Ritu(Lena Khan) who are  thick as  thieves. They fight  , they shoot videos together and  indulge in acres of sibling revelry. They are like Shah Rukh Khan and  Aishwarya Rai in Josh, without the brio.They are like Jane Austen’s heroines who have stumbled unknowingly into an Asian  family.

Then the plot decides  to become a satire on  a sibling’s jealousy and possessiveness when  Ritu falls in  love  with  a handsome tycoon in a semi-arranged  marriage. Sick with  the thought of losing her sister  Riya decides to dig up dirt on her sister’s  Prince Charming. Riya seeks the help of two of her  British schoolmates who are like chorus girls in a Halloween party.

Soon after I  glimpse some  amusing moments between the two sisters and  their  fiercely protected secret society , disrupted  by an alien presence. What  follow  thereafter was disruptively anal.

The cultural comedy fusing Mira Nair  and Gurinder  Chadha  with  Jane Austen—a Bend It Like Beckham  meets A Suitable Boy—collapses completely into a whimsical  comedy  of errors about  villainous sorts  doing embryonic farming . Too bizarre  to be funny the storytelling wraps itself  up into  knots until the climax when Riya performs  Maar daala at her sister’s wedding. It is  significant that the song chosen for the occasion has pointed  references to the colour green.

A  saffron tinge in this cross-border comedy is unimaginable. Polite Society bristles with the comedy of  cultural collision. The two sisters are typhoons of non-conformity  blowing across a screenplay that  is  too clever for its own  good.The hotchpotch  of  Indian and Pakistani cultures doesn’t help either, with  one incident  crashing into another  making us  wonder if this is  some kind of joke on  Bollywood  cinema.

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