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British Film Review: Amar Akbar & Tony
Directed By Atul Malhotra
Amar Akbar & Tony is a film which would like to be many things. First, it would like to be cool. We know this because of the large, yellow Pulp Fiction style fonts, accompanied by Boyz’n’Hood rap soundtrack (but with an Indian flavour). It would also like to be funny. We know this because the care-free womanizing character from the titular trio is so witless and tragic in his attempts at courtship, only in movie-land would he walk away without a black eye. But this film would also like to be deep. This we know, because sometimes its protagonists switch from slapstick comedy to slow-motion emoting, as if we were watching A Few Good Men, or something over-wrought, with Anthony Hopkins and period costumes.
The story goes thus: Amar Akbar & Tony are best friends and likable average joes who find themselves navigating the turbulent world of Indian (Moslem and Sikh) dating rituals; complete with over-zealous chaperones, disapproving families, and arranged marriages. The trio are made up of the usual archetypes: the responsible career-minded one; the carefree womanizing one; and the token ethnic minority friend (who, in an amusing reversal, is the white guy). The film poster relegates its female cast to ‘ensemble film-strip’ status, and this is what the film does as well- creating a series of one-note characters who are there to furnish our male heroes with deep moral dilemmas. But to accuse 'Amar Akbar & Tony' of dubious sexual politics would be unnecessarily mean (despite any unfortunate acronymical connotations). The film is at its best when effectively satirizing the well-meaning, but deeply conservative values of its mixed-Asian community. It does this with pluck, and as mentioned above, with no shortage of ambition.
In today’s world of religious discord, director Atul Malhotra serves up a colourful, quirky and sometimes enjoyable look at the British Asian community (with a token white guy). While not always successful, Malhota’s film is shot through with admirable intent and occasional characters (such as Dev Sagoo’s Mr. Singh) who ring true in reminding us that life really is there to be lived. At times it's not sure if it wants to be British Boyz'n'Hood, Terms of Endearment, or the Indian Four Weddings and a Funeral- so it attempts all three just in case!
AMAR AKBAR & TONY is available to download from 2nd November 2015.
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