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Polite Society movie review: Priya Kansara stars in this entertaining but flawed comedy about the friendship between sisters

Polite Society movie review: In this entertaining but uneven British comedy, a young woman decides to protect her older sister from a suspicious arranged marriage.

Polite-Society-movie-reviewIn Nida Manzoor’s Polite Society, Priya Kansara portrays schoolgirl Ria Khan.

The tight friendship between the Khan sisters is put to the test when one of them accepts to an arranged marriage in writer-director Nida Manzoor’s feature directorial debut Polite Society. The younger sibling, Ria, is then left in charge of rescuing Lena from a life of toil in the only method she is aware of—through some kung fu combat. The British comedy, which had its world debut at Sundance earlier this year, features several hilarious scenes as Ria works with her pals to try to preserve her family.

As the passionate Ria who desires nothing more than to be a stuntwoman, Polite Society’s star Priya Kansara gives a performance that makes her a household name. In order to secure an internship, she keeps writing to her hero and Hollywood stuntwoman Eunice Huthart. Even if her parents and school have doubts about her future, Ritu Arya’s sister Lena and two of her closest friends, Ella Bruccoleri and Seraphina Beh, have an unwavering faith in her. On her channel, “Kung-Fu Khan,” Lena even films her numerous training videos.

The smarmy rich doctor Salim Shah (Akshay Khanna) finally arrives and starts courting Lena, putting the two sisters’ strong relationship in jeopardy. The two become engaged to be married after a short while. Only Ria is suspicious that something is amiss between Salim and his mother Raheela (Nimra Bucha), and she makes every effort to dissolve the union using any means necessary, even breaking into their mansion to unearth some information.

At Salim and Lena’s lavish wedding, where Ria launches her last-ditch effort to free her sisters from their grasp, everything comes to a head. Naturally, there are a few bumps in the road, but they are handled in an entertaining way. It is a little disappointing and unconvincing that Lena was chosen by the Shahs as the ideal prospect for a marriage in the big reveal. Lena’s personality is likewise less developed than Ria’s, making her seem a little thinner than the other characters. In the otherwise entertaining movie, it’s the weakest section.

The incisive, amusing language and Kansara’s sincere acting, which propels the movie along, do well for Manzoor’s Polite Society. Salim inquires, “What do you do?” to Lena on a date. Finally, she says, “I disappoint my parents.” The schoolgirls’ plotting to bring down Salim is equally fascinating, in addition to the action scenes that crackle and include Ria learning to endure many blows before recovering. The storyline involving Kovacs, Ria’s tormentor, unexpectedly becoming an ally is also quite well done.

Bollywood lovers will also appreciate the musical references to well-known songs, particularly Maar Daala from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas (2002), which was made famous by Madhuri Dixit’s Chandramukhi. As she dances to the song at the wedding, taunting the already enraged Raheela—who has now emerged as her chief foe—Ria adds her own delightful spin to it.

The second half of Polite Society’s plot does take some truly bizarre turns, but they can be overlooked since the film’s charms transcend the weaker plotline that was inserted for shock value. Polite Society is a 103-minute film that tells the compelling tale of two sisters who endure some hardship but ultimately emerge stronger. Kansara is particularly believable as an impressionable adolescent who frequently lets her vivid imagination get the better of her, but who actually has Lena and their family’s best interests at heart.

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