[Film review] Polite Society

Review by John P. Harvey.

Ria Khan (Priya Kansara) believes in her potential as a stuntwoman and is doing all she can to fulfill it.  Still at school, she is attending martial-arts classes and seeking work experience with her (real life) stuntwoman idol, Eunice Huthar.  But she faces opposition from family, teacher, and schoolmates, who regard her ambition as unrealistic.  Her only real supports are her sister, Lena (Ritu Arya), who shoots videos of Ria’s martial-arts stunts on her mobile phone and posts them on line, and two best friends, Clara (Seraphina Beh) and Alba (Ella Bruccoleri).

Lena, meanwhile, having given up on her own dream of becoming a professional painter, has left art school and is just figuring out what to do while she does nothing else… and that is when she is swept off her feet by Salim Shah (Akshay Khanna).  

Ria, seeing bigger things in her sister’s future than marriage as a sad alternative to a life of artistic failure, is determined to bring her sister to her art and her senses.  But she has her work cut out for her to rescue Lena, as her marriage is being arranged between their parents and Salim’s doting mother, Raheela (Nimra Bucha).  She’ll need the help of her stalwart friends, Clara and Alba.

But little do they know what they have taken on.  As the three of them plot to rescue Lena from the grasp of the Shahs and their plans become by necessity ever more ambitious, Ria, as skilled as she is in martial arts, finds herself facing the opponent from hell — and still having to keep her battles very nice.

Polite Society is simply a romp, with precedents in What’s Love Got to Do With It? in subverting Pakistani wedding traditions, and in Bend It Like Beckham in playing with the clash of Indian subcontinental and British cultural values.  Above all, if offers many laughs.

Screening at Dendy, Palace, Limelight, and Hoyts cinemas.

P.S. Your intrepid reviewer entered Polite Society to dine from Dendy’s refreshed Premium Lounge menu, from which he chose the vegetarian option.  The staff served the dishes quietly, discreetly, and with smiles, and the food was terrific, making the entire cinema-going experience a treat for all the senses.

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