In the Netflix drama Sardar Ka Grandson, memories of the Partition meet viral videos on relocating large structures. Kaashvie Nair’s feature debut revolves around an ailing 90-year-old woman from Amritsar and her grandson’s efforts to fulfil her deepest desire: to revisit the home in Lahore that she fled because of the violence of 1947. The woman known as Sardar (Neena Gupta) is unable to make the journey to Pakistan. Since Sardar cannot go to her Lahore home, Amreek (Arjun Kapoor) vows to bring the home to her.
It helps that Amreek used to run a transport and logistics company back home in Los Angeles. He has fought and fallen out with his business partner and fiancee Radha (Rakul Preet Singh) – one of the many contrivances that help in stretching a one-note idea into a 140-minute feature. The movie doubles up as the coming-of-age story of Amreek, who is treated by everybody as an overgrown adolescent who is unable to keep his promises.
As things go, Amreek is more mature than the rest of his clan – which also makes Arjun Kapoor the most noteworthy member of the ensemble cast. Amreek’s parents (Kanwaljeet Singh and Soni Razdan) flap about foolishly at all times, as does his extended family. His beloved Sardar is the embodiment of the impish, whisky-loving granny whom the movies are so fond of trotting out. However, despite make-up to bolster her case, she doesn’t make for a very credible nonagenarian.
The folks in Pakistan are no better, ranging from a grumpy mayor to a precocious boy who becomes Amreek’s greatest ally. The Indo-Pakistani bonhomie extends to the respective governments, further pushing the screenplay by Nair and Anuja Chauhan into fairy-tale zone.
The actual relocation of Sardar’s two-storeyed house, which should have been the highlight, is hurriedly depicted with the aid of basic visual effects. All energies are focused on Amreek’s fish-out-of-water adventures in Lahore and Sardar’s antics back home. Radha miraculously pops up at just the right moment to help Amreek relocate a part of Lahori heritage to Amritsar.
Sardar’s house has passed over to a Muslim man who left his own property back in India to move to Pakistan. The cultural significance of this forced uprooting and the sensitive issue of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims moving into abandoned houses after the Partition have no room in a movie out for humour as broad as a truck’s backside and loud enough to be heard across the border.