Everyone is fighting their own battle right now: Arjun Kapoor

This is the crazy, family-friendly premise of Sardar Ka Grandson, a new Netflix film starring Arjun and Neena Gupta.

Published: 18th May 2021 11:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th May 2021 11:12 AM   |  A+A-

A still from 'Sardar Ka Grandson'.

A still from 'Sardar Ka Grandson'.

Express News Service

After his grandmother falls sick, a young man takes it upon himself to fulfil her dying wish. He petitions the Pakistan High Commission to let her visit her old house in Lahore.

When the plea is rejected, he takes another route. Using hydraulic jacks and a truck, he plans to transport the whole structure over to India. “Not homecoming,” says Amreek (Arjun Kapoor), grinning broadly. “Home is coming.”

This is the crazy, family-friendly premise of Sardar Ka Grandson, a new Netflix film starring Arjun and Neena Gupta.

“My first question when I heard the script was – is this possible?” recalls Arjun, back in comedy mode after 2017’s Mubarakan. “It sounded impossible, yet by the end of the film you buy into it. That, for me, was the charm of this story.”

Arjun and Neena were co-stars on Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar (2021), though with limited scenes together. Sardar Ka Grandson was their chance to collaborate more closely. “There was a natural bonding that grew between us,” shares Neena, who plays the titular Sardar.

“We did not have to keep checking on each other or exchange pleasantries. It just happened on its own. A lot of it was also because of the beautifully-written scenes we had together.”

One scene, for instance, has the actors chatting over the ‘duty-free’ whiskey Amreek has brought home for Sardar.

“It’s my favourite scene!” Neena beams. She says she felt disappointed when it was edited down in the final version. “We shot the whole night for it. It was extremely cold. We had four-five heaters around. It was so beautiful because we really took our time to do that scene. It has a lot of pauses and feeling. We were crying in happiness through that scene.”

“As actors, you sometimes get caught up in the exterior environment and want to wrap up fast,” Arjun adds.

“Thankfully, that wasn’t the case here. I remember Neena ma’am didn’t leave the wheelchair even once and neither did I. We kept shooting till we got it.”

Director Kaashvie Nair was inspired by a New York Times article about a man who rebuilt a house from Kerala brick by brick. She looked up videos on structural relocation, and was struck by images of entire houses being shifted on jacks.

Around the same time, she caught a documentary on an Indian man who revisits his house in Lahore. This was in 2017 – the 70th year of Independence. 

“That emotion just struck a chord,” says Kaashvie, who jotted down the treatment over one frenzied night (novelist Anuja Chauhan has a screenplay credit, and the dialogue is by Amitosh Nagpal).

Unlike other partition stories, Kaashvie wanted to tap into the happy memories of her characters. The violence and trauma, though hinted at, fade into the background.

“When you read partition accounts you realise people are only reminiscing about the good things,” Kaashvie explains.

“With Sardar’s character, we did not want to make her this old, bitter-with-life woman. Even when she was young, she was this feisty woman who fell in love and lived her life exactly how we do today.”

The other half of Amreek’s journey centres on Radha (Rakul Preet Singh), his stateside girlfriend who arrives to help him. They’re on a break – since Amreek won’t grow up or clean up his act. “I could connect with Radha because she’s very particular about her habits,” Rakul says.

“In my own life, too, I’m a little OCD about certain things, which Kaashvie could see. She kept telling me I’m totally Radha.”

Arriving at a difficult time, Sardar Ka Grandson hopes to cheer up people strung out by the pandemic. The film’s themes of generational bonding and caregiving should resonate with all, the team feels.

“Everyone is fighting their own battle right now,” says Arjun, whose own grandmother has recently recovered from Covid-19. “I stay in the same city and still feel vulnerable. I can’t imagine what it’s like for people staying away from their families. It’s been over a year but we are back to square one. We can’t get complacent again.” Neena urges people not to forward anything without cross-checking.

“Let’s remember this is a virus that can affect anyone. So please be vigilant and don’t spread misinformation.”


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