Cast: Vinay Virmani, Anupam Kher, Camilla Belle, Gurpreet Guggi, Russel Peters, Noureen Dewulf, Sakina Jaffrey, Rob Lowe, Akshay Kumar
Directed by Robert Lieberman
Sports films have always subscribed to a recipe that guarantees success. A little more or less and you can be assured of indigestion. So here's a list of ingredients needed for a heady brew of clichés:
1. Every sports movie has to have a lead. Someone who looks, acts, dribbles better than most others in the film. In some cases, he/she is also the only one with an acting background among the cast. Here we have Mickey-Mouse-faced Rajveer Singh (Vinay Virmani).
2. For no particular reason, the sport our hero pursues so passionately will be one his native country is alien to. Like in 'Lagaan', cricket was an English game which was mastered by the local Indian villagers. Here, Rajveer, who is of an Indian origin, is crazy about ice hockey, a game he picked up while growing up in Canada (in all possible Punjabi pronunciations).
3. Just to weigh him even lighter on the scale, the lead must pick a team of the worst underdogs who almost seem impaired of basic motor skills. Rajveer doesn't need to pick, he just gets all his Sikh buddies (each has Singh as his last name) together and says, "I think we can win the cup!"
4. Every team needs a coach, a consultant and a whiney. But in films, this guy is hard to nail down and he has to be lured into the job. He will resist and call your team of bunch of sissies or something equivalent but it's always a test. Brave it and he picks up the whistle. Also he will have a hidden agenda to coach the team, mostly to win back his lost glory. Here, we have coach Dan Winters (Rob Lowe) who decides to do this sorry lot a favour after observing them play for long.
5. No filmy sportsman has managed to score a single on the field without scoring a few off it. So we need a love interest who may initially show disdain towards the sport but eventually get into the swing of things and spend most of her screen time talking about how the lead shouldn't give up on his dreams. Chirpy law student, Melissa Winters (Camilla Belle) who is also coach Winters' sister, fills this role.
6. From 'Bend it like Bekham' to 'Goal', the sport in question is often considered to be just that and doesn't sound like a career choice to atleast one of the parents. Consequently, the lead has to sneak out for practice and pretend to be on the job that makes the judgmental parent happy. Rajveer's dad, Darvesh Singh (Anupam Kher) wants him to be responsible which by definition is driving trucks for his uncle Sammy (Gurpreet Guggi).
7. Such movies also feel that just showing the sport can be boring and a bizarre distraction could do wonders and give the audience more variety. So, we have the world's first dream love sequence which is a bhangra ballad, choreographed with ice-skating moves, performed over a frozen lake (set) with a Taj Mahal in the foreground (we're yet to find something more symbolic for India!). We also have Russel Peters as Sonu, Rajveer's brother-in-law who sways from cocky to deliriously spontaneous.
8. Every team has a secret weapon which is basically a freak teammate who will put his odd skills to good use. Like the disabled guy in 'Lagaan' who could spin like Warne, Rajveer selects a human mammoth in his team just to bash up the opposition. What fun!
9. On the day of the big match, our lead hero will suffer many blows, literal and metaphorical, making victory a distant dream, momentarily. But he will rise from the ashes and fight back like he has nothing to lose. Rajveer does this.
10. And finally, it is crucial to prove all the cynics wrong. So Rajveer gets his dad to admit that he was wrong in being judgemental and that there can be a career just as secure as driving trucks.
'Speedy Singhs' ticks all the above clichés and does the same quite speedily. If you're going to watch this film, you know you're headed for a 'Happy Singh ever after' and that is exactly what you will get.
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