If you have seen 2002’s hit Indo-English movie Bend It Like Beckham, well you’ll pretty much know the story of Breakaway aka Speedy Singhs, which is a Canadian version directed by Robert Libermann and amongst the movies producers, executive & associate, you will find actors Paul Gross & Bollywood star Akshay Kumar. How similar are the storylines? So similar that they have Anupam Kher in virtually the same role albeit in different countries! He must have suffered from a severe case of deja vu! The film stars debutant Vinay Virmani opposite Camilla Belle, with Rob Lowe, Russell Peters and Kher in pivotal roles.
So change the story to a young guy, Rajveer Singh, an Indo-Canadian of Punjabi ethnicity, living in Toronto (Oakville area I guess) and dreaming of hockey success but his father, Darvesh does not like him to play the game. Instead he wants his son to concentrate on working up and eventually taking over his brother’s, & Rajveer’s uncle, family business of a truck company. Darvesh himself works for his brother. Secretly Rajveer plays with fellow Sikhs in a local rink. One day, while practicing hockey, a few players from a semi-pro team insult the Singhs, and Rajveer asks their coach for a trial to show his skills. Although he clearly has potential the coach turns him down. Coach Dan Winters (Rob Lowe) who sees this eventually warms up to the Sikhs and becomes their coach, naming Rajveer as captain of the Speedy Singhs. Rajveer gets his well-intentioned uncle to sponsor the team.
The team practices at all opportunities, honing their skills and improving as a team. Coach Winters also has a young & beautiful sister, Melissa (Camille Belle) who is the love interest for Rajveer. He even takes her out to Patel’s (are we stereo-typing Indian names today?) where they share some Indian food. On a night Rajveer lies to his father and says he is going to New York for a job delivery, though his father spots him playing hockey. Although his uncle tries to convince Rajveer’s dad that playing the sport is not a bad thing, Darvesh is upset and Rajveer leaves the house. He also fights with the coach and he ends up stripped of the captaincy and not playing the semi-finals in anger, although the team manages to win. While working at a film studio, he sees actor Akshay Kumar (in a cameo role as himself) who speaks about the pride of the Punjab Sikh warriors and in inspired to dig out metal helmets that the warriors worn to use as helmets.
Why? Because their opponents in the finals, the same team who they fought with early on in the movie, objected to the Sikhs not wearing helmets and relying on their turbans. However Melissa, a law student, manages to convince the tournament organizers that the metal helmets can be used instead. Rajveer spends most of his saving on buying the team the helmets, reunites with coach & the guys and leads the team to win the final in overtime. His dad finally has come to terms with his son playing hockey (apparently Kher plays characters who can only stand cricket and not football or ice hockey) and shows up to congratulate his son. And ofcourse we have Punjabi music blaring all around as the Sikh community celebrates. Infact, I think they must have got the entire Sikh population of Toronto to appear in the rink scene for the finals!
Although predictable, cheesy & corny for the most part, it’s still got some fun working for it. Russell Peters plays the obnoxious rich dude who is marrying Rajveer’s cousin Reena (Noureen DeWulf) and he initially butt heads with him. However the two bond after a stag party which ends in a fight and the guys all getting thrown behind bars. Infact Peters as Sonu Gill almost steals the show with his few funny scenes! Lucadris & Drake have cameo roles in this movie too. The film was released on September 30 2011 and received mixed to positive reviews upon release, though was a huge commercial success at the box office screens and highest grossing movie in Canadian Box office in 2011. After the tremendous success of the film, Breakaway was also dubbed into Hindi under the title of Speedy Singhs, which was a critical and commercial letdown. Most Indians were wondering where all the ice came from and what are these Sardars doing skating on them! And where there so few songs and the movie not 3 hours long?
6 outta 10! It would have been 7 if it weren’t for those annoying & repetitive Punjabi songs!