Happy Sardar movie review: A ridiculously staged rom-com
Happy Sardar is an unfunny, needlessly prolonged film that overstays its welcome
You know, it’s a huge challenge to review a film like Happy Sardar. How exactly do you write about something that didn’t offer you at least one positive thing to take away? It’s such a jumbled, chaotic mess that once you get to the finale, you don’t remember how it began.
Happy Sardar is a garish pastiche of those 90s’ Bollywood romance dramas which had multiple colours oozing out of all their pores and have lovers eloping against their filthy rich parents’ wishes and are later pursued by the parents’ goons.
But Happy Sardar is no Sairat, mind you. It’s intended as a “party” movie, where all the guests are expected to have a blast. I didn’t. I was surprised that I was able to make it through its 150+ min runtime. There was a constant urge to walk out at some point, but I resisted it as I had a review to write, and it wouldn’t be fair to write about a film that you didn’t fully see.
There is a half-Punjabi boy Happy Singh (Kalidas Jayaram) and a Knanaya Christian Malayali girl Mary (Merin Philip) who manage to fall in love by accident. Well, it’s not actually an accident. It’s better not to get into the logical side of their romance because despite Mary being not too keen about being in a relationship with him earlier—she doesn’t believe in doing anything against her father’s wishes—she falls in love with him without much delay. Throughout the film, I kept asking myself what was so special about Happy that she found appealing considering the speed in which she changed her mind. This dude is not only bad at proposing but also makes bad jokes. He can imitate some legendary actors quite well, though.
But even if you are willing to overlook all that, there is a very important factor to consider when making a rom-com —the chemistry between the leads. There is none here. Happy and Mary are bland characters with zero charm. And Kalidas is essentially repeating his performance from Argentina Fans Kaattorkadavu, another film that suffered from chemistry issues. The same can be said of its supporting characters. Happy has three brothers-in-law, each with three different ideologies—Hindu, Muslim, and Communist—and there are jokes, mostly bad, made at their expense.
A lot of characters show up out of the blue and break into a song-and-dance/fight along with the others. At one point, you get a set of brothers called Jose Brothers —perhaps a nod to the Uppukandam Brothers in Kottayam Kunjachan—showing up and creating a ruckus. The Kottayam Kunjachan influence also extends to the hero’s alter-ego, who is dressed like Kunjachan.
Happy Sardar has some of the most mind-numbingly uninspiring combinations of music and lyrics ever put to film. Just when you sit through one painful song-and-dance sequence, there comes another... and another... and another. They, too, show up just like that. Sometimes two warring groups make compromises just like that. Good luck trying to make head or tail of these sequences which produce the effect of watching a boring college cultural. Meanwhile, a bunch of comical characters come in with their own agendas and crack outdated jokes. The less said about them, the better.
Happy Sardar is a film that belongs in the 90s. It doesn’t have anything new to show and celebrates all the cliches that made those old school Indian romantic comedies unbearable in the first place. The film even has Punjabi characters spouting dialogues like, “Usko main zinda nahin chodunga.” Javed Jaffrey plays Happy’s dad who tries, unsuccessfully, to please us with a few Mohanlal lines. You’re taken from one cringe-inducing sequence to the next. My attempts to find some solace in the colours of the sets and actors’ costumes were in vain.
This is a ridiculously plotted and staged romantic comedy that is ultimately neither funny nor romantic. It’s a needlessly prolonged and overstuffed film that overstays its welcome and makes you want to hide in a corner for some time, like Shammi in Kumbalangi Nights, till you begin to feel ‘normal’ again.