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Canada’s national sport gets NRI lift

world Updated: Sep 11, 2011 22:49 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya

At one level, it can be described as on ice. Replace football with ice hockey sticks and a puck, and a feisty daughter with a rebel son who wants fulfilment in Canada’s national sport, and the principal ingredients of the Canadian film, Breakaway are in place.

The film, which premiered at the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival or TIFF, refreshes the coming-of-age formula for the Indo-Canadian community.

Anupam Kher plays a stern Sikh father unhappy over his child's choice of a sport over more traditional pursuits, just as he did in Beckham. Kher accepted the similarity: "It's different, but, yes, in terms of look and being a father of a sportsperson, there is a similarity."

The larger difference he pointed to was that this also reflected the aspirations of the large Indo-Canadian population in Canada to assimilate while keeping their values intact. Kher said, "The canvas is bigger. Over there was one girl who wanted to play football on a team. Over here, you're talking about an entire community."

That's the Sikh community, and the team it fields in an ice hockey tournament, the Speedy Singhs. Amid an undercurrent of racism, the Singhs want to prove they belong, while marking their differences, like wearing their turbans on to the rink. The team is led by the film's lead character, Rajveer Singh, the renegade son. That role is played by debutant actor Vinay Virmani.

Virmani said, "From a hockey standpoint, it breaks down racial barriers within the game. I think it shows that in Canada we celebrate our multiculturalism, our diversity. On the other hand, it will help break down the opposition that parents have to their kids choosing unconventional careers."

The film's already received a major thumbs-up, having been featured at TIFF 2011. Festival’s co-director Cameron Bailey said, "It's a very entertaining film, it's funny, it's light, it's romantic. But again, it has a message, it has something to say, particularly about the importance of traditional values." The film is actor Akshay Kumar’s debut as a producer.