‘Polite Society’ movie review: This ‘Bollywood meets British humour’ feature is not as enjoyable as it sounds

Though it starts off as an update of the delightful ‘Bend it like Beckham’, Nida Manzoor’s directorial debut loses its way spectacularly in the third act  

April 28, 2023 05:49 pm | Updated 06:07 pm IST

A still from ‘Polite Society’

A still from ‘Polite Society’ | Photo Credit: Focus Features

Lena Khan (Ritu Arya) has dropped out of art school and has taken to skulking around corners in some indeterminate part of the UK eating whole tandoori chicken while looking away from well-meaning but nosey aunties.

Her younger sister, Ria, (Priya Kansara) dreams of being a stunt woman and is trying to perfect her flying kick as her alter-ego, The Fury. She is also writing fanmail to her idol, the stuntwoman, Eunice Huthart, while trying to convince the counsellor at school that she would like to intern with Huthart and not at a doctor’s office.

Polite Society (English)
Director: Nida Manzoor
Cast: Priya Kansara, Ritu Arya, Nimra Bucha, Akshay Khanna, Jeff Mirza, Ella Bruccoleri, Seraphina Beh, Shona Babayemi, Shobu Kapoor, Sally Ann
Runtime: 103 minutes
Storyline: Ria, who dreams of being a stuntwoman, feels she has to rescue her sister from what she perceives as a very unsuitable marriage

When the rich and influential Raheela (Nimra Bucha) invites the Khans for a posh Eid soiree, the girls’ parents, Rafe, (Jeff Mirza) and Fatima, (Shobu Kapoor) are beyond pleased. When Raheela’s highly eligible bachelor son, Salim, (Akshay Khanna) proposes to Lena, the family is overjoyed. Except for Ria who feels there is something rotten in the hasty proposal-engagement-shaadi and move to Singapore.

She enlists the help of her friends Alba (Ella Bruccoleri) and Clara (Seraphina Beh) and school bully with daddy issues, Kovacs (Shona Babayemi) to stop the marriage. They start with diplomacy, which as everyone knows, does not achieve anything. Then it is time to dig dirt on the impossibly nice Salim. This calls for breaking into the men’s locker room in Salim’s gym and getting his laptop. All of Clara’s research into the device reveals only good works, genetic research and saving babies.

The next step is a smear campaign, which naturally goes awry and sees Lena genuinely angry with Ria, whose attempts to apologise find her trapped in a spa day from hell which she escapes by the skin of her teeth thanks to her martial arts training.

Then it is the big wedding day and Ria and her gang have concocted yet another outrageous plan that involves a dance off to ‘Maar Dala’ from Devdas complete with green anarkali. The sisters, the wedding and the younger sister’s fondness for non-traditional pastimes brought Gurinder Chadha’s Bend it Like Beckhamto mind.

However, Nida Manzoor, (We are Lady Parts) who has also written Polite Society, has created a film that is rather uneven and goes completely off the rails in the third act. There are some rather funny jokes and Kansara’s Ria is eminently likeable. If only the film had not galloped into some weird kind of Robin-Cook territory towards the end, it would have been all-round fun instead of being vaguely derivative, ending up not doing itself or its cast and crew any favours.

Polite Society is currently running in theatres

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