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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



Raja Abroadiya, Review: Staying home is a better option

Raja Abroadiya, Review: Staying home is a better option

Both for the lead characters in the film, and potential viewers. If the film-makers had been warned in time to stay home themselves, the viewers would not have had to be given this warning of staying home, and would have been spared a film that has almost nothing to offer, the Miss India and Miss Diva connections of the two lead actresses notwithstanding. Okay, so there must be some audiences who like over the top buffoonery and will watch anything that has Punjab and stereo-typical Punjabis in it. You’re welcome. Only don’t tell me later that I did not give you a-broad hintiya or two about what to expect.

A rich, illiterate country bumpkin (Robin Sohi), who claims to be the Raja of his village by virtue of the huge land mass that his father Succha Singh (Yograj Singh) owns, is ultra proud and mega egotistic. He has no ambition in life and whiles away his time in the company of other time-wasters in his village. While his father is always pulling up Raja’s for his misdeeds and lack of interest in studies, his mother, Parkash Kaur (Vaishnavi MacDonald) can see no fault in her only, spoilt child. Raja has a bosom pal, Balli (Pranav Verma), a huge, over-obese lad, who behaves like Raja’s minion. Balli is also the narrator of the story.

One day, he has his ego hurt by a drunken villager Bantu (Prakash Gadhu), whose son has returned from abroad, after being married to a foreign girl and gaining foreign citizenship, a man whose father calls him “Abroadiya”. The drunk claims that his son, and not Raja, is the real bigwig of the village, by virtue of having lived abroad and married a fair-skinned European woman. Raja announces that he too will become an Abroadiya soon. He vows to go abroad and get foreign citizenship too. To this end, he seeks the help of a pretty visa agent. The agent, Preety (Vaishnavi Patwardhan), is fed up of her boss and the drudgery at work. She too, like Raja, has dreams of going abroad and improving her social and economical status, and is encouraged to this end by her friend and co-worker Twinkle (Alankrita Bora).

Raja has to enter into a fake marriage with Preety and the two leave for Germany, specifically, Munich. Why Munich? Because Raja has a childhood friend, Rahul (Abhishek Singh Pathania), living and working there. One catastrophe after another follows, as Raja finds himself facing the wrath of German women, whom he tries to flirt with. Just then he starts dreaming about Preety and singing songs with exquisite locales. You know where that leads to, almost always. But wait a minute. There is German girl called Sally (Olga Hoffman) in the picture too.

No information is available on Manjinder ‘Mani’ Singh, who wrote the film. Surprisingly, the shoddily penned script had the germ of an idea, but you need cine-sense and a crafted screenplay to turn such ethnic, earthy stuff into a watchable movie, all of 1hour 50 minutes long. Mani needs to apply the basics to make tales screen-worthy. Instead, he sticks to bombastic dialogue from the hero.

Likewise Munich based producer-distributor-actor-director Lakhwinder Singh Shabla. Stuck with so many stereotypes, he had tied his own hands. Genuine laughs, humorous conflict between differing personalities and really laughable punch-lines, delivered with precision timing, could have redeemed the pretentious rom-com to a great extent. All we have is a few funny scenes, like the one in the massage parlour and one with a transvestite homosexual. Rest of the time, Raja Abroadiya leaves you unmoved.

Robin Sohi, an active theatre artist, hails from Karnal, Haryana. A Sikh Jatt, he moved to Mumbai in 2014, and began doing stage and street shows under the ABSS Theatre Group. His fist film Ekta will release only in May/June, so, technically, Raja Abroadiya becomes his debut. Theatre has helped in giving him some confidence, but there is little opportunity for him and his damsel, Vaishnavi Patwardhan (another debutante), to get into real acting. She is a Femina Miss India 2016 finalist. In her words, “The first time I was introduced to this script, I was in love with it. I was laughing like a maniac right from the first scene. I'm sure the audience is going to enjoy the comedy and the storyline. Rom-com is undoubtedly my favourite genre in TV and films.” Let’s give her some time. Experience always helps.

Debutante No. 3 is a Miss Diva 2016 finalist, Alankrita Bora. Alankrita holds the mischievous streak well. As Raja’s parents, Yograj Singh (father of Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh) and Vaishnavi Macdonald fit the bill, with Yograj churning out the best performance in the film. Passable to itinerant support comes from Pranav ‘Harry’ Verma, Prakash Gadhu, Olga Hoffmann and Abhishek Singh Pathania. Music is by Mukhtar Sahota, DOP is Ishaan Sharma and Art Director: Abhishek Redkar.

It has been a shaky start for this Singh King.

Hope Shabla’s next will better tidings bring.

Rating: *



Perhaps Shabla will have to face an even greater scrutiny when he releases his second movie in a few months’ time. It is called 25 Years. On his website, he has this to say about the project:

“The heart warming story of a man hunting down his lost family 25 year after having them taken brutally taken away from him.

Set in the stunning backdrop of Munich and Bavaria this is moving story about friendship, loss, love and desperation.

Written, directed, produced and starred in by SHABLA films founder Lakwinder Shabla, make sure you catch this film in the first half of 2018.”

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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