If you have seen the promos, there are no surprises in the film's storyline. A Canadian citizen with Indian roots, the character played by Vinay Virmani wants to pursue his dream of being an ice hockey player. His dad (Anupam Kher) doesn't hate sports but feels ice hockey will take him nowhere. However with help from his uncle (Gurpreet Guggi), coach (Rob Lowe) and a bunch of large hearted Sikh friends, he manages to rise up the ladder. There are challenges in the form of racism from opponent teams and mischievous relatives (Russell Peters) but with his girlfriend (Camilla Belle) alongside, he manages to defeat all adversities.
With a straight forward plot like this, what is of paramount importance is to ensure that the narrative is gripping enough. In this context, it is apparent that director Robert Lieberman has tried to balance his Western sensibilities with what Indian audience wants. The results are mixed with the story telling oscillating between some exciting, some not-so-exciting and a few ordinary moments.
So while the film does start off well with Vinay joining his friends in rising from an amateur to a professional team, at times you do feel that entire crowd of relatives around him are thrust upon to fit it all into crossover genre. Though one would have expected the film to take a one-dimensional route here i.e. a youngster striving to rise in the world of sports, there is a family drama angle added in which only ends up diverting viewer's attention.
On the other hand what still makes one sit through the film comfortably are the performances and the easy-to-eyes persona of Vinay. The youngster does quite well in fact and acts with very good confidence. He has a very likeable screen presence and though he has started with a film which has sports as its genre, he can very well fit into romantic genre in films to come. He doesn't go overboard even in dramatic sequences and gets able help from Anupam Kher who comes up with yet another convincing act.
Another actor who stands out is Rob Lowe. As a coach with a humane side to him, he is quite natural and his experience in working on quite a few mainstream Hollywood films shows. Russell Peters would be liked by those who are familiar with his stand-up acts though how one wishes he had actually come up with a few scenes which were out and out riotous. Camilla looks good but gets minimal scope. On the other hand Akshay's cameo comes at just the right juncture in the film and contributes to the film moving forward.
What does further contribute to the film are the songs that play on and off as a part of the film's background score. However the one that takes the cake is 'Shera Di Kaum' that plays during the end credits roll. A chartbuster track already, this along with the ice hockey encounter in the climax are two of the major reasons why one doesn't really mind watching 'Speedy Singhs' till it's very end.
There aren't many films based on sports that are attempted in Bollywood. In this context it is a rare occasion to see a film belonging to similar genre getting a good widespread release. This despite the fact that a) It is an Indo-Canadian collaboration, b) It is an English film dubbed in Hindi, c) It features an absolute newcomer and d) It talks about a sports unknown to majority of moviegoers in India - 'Ice Hockey'. Keeping these factors in mind, 'Speedy Singhs' at least makes an attempt to find visibility.
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