J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Amar Akbar & Tony: Love and Life in Southall

It helps to know Amar Akbar Anthony was a smash hit 1970s Bollywood film about three brothers separated at birth, raised as a Hindu, Muslim, and Christian. These lads are brothers-from-a-different-mother, but if you swap Sikhism for Hinduism, you still have the same general deal. These three grown boyhood mates will be there for each other through thick and thin, whether they like it or not in Atul Makhotra’s Amar Akbar & Tony (trailer here), which releases today on DVD from Kino Lorber.

Initially, Amar had the best prospects (he would be the Sikh, so you should be able to figure out the other two by process of elimination). He had a job offer from a London law firm and a ring on the finger of his childhood sweetheart Richa, but it vanishes in a flash. To protect his mates, Amar stabs the unhinged brother of the cloistered beauty Tony had been trying to steal a conversation with.

At least Amar’s prison sentence goes by in a flash of on-screen time. Of course, the community isn’t so embracing of Amar now. It seems like the family mojo has shifted to Amar’s Uncle, judging from his beautiful but sad-eyed new wife Meera. Technically, she is now Amar’s aunt, but there is no denying their mutual attraction. However, Meera’s circumstances are far more complicated than Amar understands.

Although AAT is generally classified as a romantic comedy, the events that transpire are considerably more serious (and permanent) than standard rom-com fare. Yet, the inclusive friendship the film is constructed around is quite appealing.

As Amar, Rez Kempton broods like a champ and displays genuine leading man presence. He also develops some tragically romantic chemistry with both Karen David (probably the biggest star in the ensemble thanks to Gallivant and Once Upon a Time) and Amrita Acharia, as Meera and Richa, respectively. If things won’t work with one, viewers will definitely want to see him find happiness with the other. However, both Sam Vincenti and Martin Delaney really turn up the two extremes of shtick—smarmy ladies’ man confidence in the case of Akbar and klutzy sad sack loserdom for Tony.

We can see how Malhotra and his cast were trying to pull off a Southall Four Weddings and a Funeral. This film is nowhere near as droll, but the food looks way better. In fact, you have to give AAT credit for its unexpected depth. Recommended for those who enjoy a diverse relationship dramedy with Bollywood seasoning, Amar Akbar & Tony releases today on DVD and Netflix, from Kino Lorber.

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