What a pleasant surprise that this film backed by Akshay Kumar isn't really from the Bollywood stable. There's absolutely nothing Bollywood about its making. With actors like Rob Lowe (last seen in “Californication” as the Hollywood actor signed on to play Hank Moody), Camilla Belle (From Prada to Nada, 10,000 BC), Bollywood hating comedian Russell Peters, and an almost all-white crew led by director Robert Lieberman, the guy who directed “Titanic” (okay, the TV version of it), this is what would happen if second rung Hollywood got together to remake Bend It Like Beckham.

We are not saying that just because it's an underdog sports film about a girl (okay, boy here) who has to bend the rules and sneak out of home to play football (ice-hockey here) and win the match and the approval of the orthodox Sikh patriarch Anupam Kher (no change there, he plays the same role).

It's the same film that's remade with necessary changes that make it adhere to the classic Hollywood sports movie template. So there's the extra sub-plot of conflict between coach and star player, individual talent versus team effort thrown in to ensure they don't get sued for copyright violation.

Speedy Singhs hopes it will do for Vinay Virmani (also credited with story for this) what Bend It did for Keira Knightley.

The kid is not bad at all. He's much better than most Bollywood producer sons because he can actually ice-skate well enough to come across as a player with some confidence. He's quite natural when it comes to dialogue delivery and his efforts to woo the pretty girl-who-happens-to-be-the-coach's-sister (Camilla Belle) are one of the better-written parts of the film.

The mood is kept light with Russell Peters providing the laughs (mostly because he's fat), his comic timing saving him the blushes of being a nervous actor.

For someone who can't play drunk, one of the easiest things to do for an actor, he has quite some nerve commenting about the quality of acting or filmmaking in Bollywood.

Watch Speedy Singhs though because it's mostly harmless and it makes you believe in Bollywood again. Because, a Chak De or Lagaan can make this look like a student film, any given day.

And Akshay Kumar? He just features in a song during the end credits and gives the kid an autograph.

Speedy Singhs

Genre: Sports

Director: Robert Lieberman

Cast: Vinay Virmani, Rob Lowe, Anupam Kher, Camilla Belle, Russell Peters, Noureen DeWulf

Storyline: A newly formed ragtag underdog team of Sikh ice-hockey players, Speedy Singhs must beat the champions, Hammerheads

Bottomline: It's Spend it like Beckham. The story of a loving Dad who buys his son a Hollywood crew to loosely remake Bend it Like Beckham with ice-hockey. Not bad at all.

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English Cinema ReviewsOctober 17, 2011