Let's talk about the positives first. Saadi Wakhri Hai Shaan, this Friday's Punjabi cinema release, tries to cheer on the indomitable Punjabi spirit - the spirit that makes Punjabis industrious, cheerful, magnanimous and sometimes, silly. It attempts to highlight the state's many woes, including corruption, nepotism and use of muscle and money by the high and mighty to have their way, all of which end up frustrating thousands of Punjabi youth, forcing them to venture abroad for more money and a better life. The film also scores on its music, which is melodious and hummable.
However, if a story backs social good and a strong message, should its many slips be forgiven? Saadi Wakhri Hai Shaan has many firsts to it, including some of its cast members, producer-writer-lyricist Inder Roop Ghuman (a qualified doctor) and music director Dilpreet Bhatia (a qualified computer engineer). But, some of these artists' efforts work, some don't.
As you follow the journey of Sikander Singh Sekhon (Sangram Singh), a university student and a promising boxer who is ever so upbeat about life, you are simultaneously led through parallel tales of others, making you feel like a lost Alice in Wonderland, though this is no wonderland.
A staunch believer in righteous conduct, much like his father, Sikander soon rubs Baldev (son of a politician) the wrong way, ending up being suspended from the university and from the national boxing squad. He then lands up in Canada, and you witness him living his dream and coming to the rescue of those who gave him shelter, including his father's dear friend Shamsher Singh Sidhu (Shivender Mahal).
But that's where a lot of things go wrong - because directors, in their attempt to highlight too many evils and offer too many solutions, cramp in the so-called pre-requisites of mindless action and heartless romance.
Shot mostly in a barren region of Canada that makes you realise just how beautiful Punjab is, the film loses itself in a maze of long-winding plot and unrealistic unravelling of many mysteries in one go. Though female lead Mandy Takhar could have made for a pretty picture, the cinematographer seems to have preferred zooming in on her not-so-pretty angles.
However, Sangram Singh is promising, if he polishes up his acting. Rana Ranbir's comedy and Binnu Dhillon's new avatar add quirk, a great relief.
Purely for the sake of their noble thoughts, the makers of this film shouldn't be written off. Beyond that, the lesser said, the better.