This Indie film captures the heart of multicultural Britain in a captivating way; with its equal share of laughter and tears.
In the opening scenes of this film, the lead character Amardeep Singh Sidhu (Rez Kempton) says of his family’s migration to the UK; “My family moved from Punjab in India, to Hounslow- Punjab in London.” From that moment, I knew that I would be connecting with this film on a spiritual level.
Amar, Akbar & Tony, directed by Atul Malhotra, tells the story of three young men growing up and living life together in the multicultural streets of London. From the offset, I was expecting it to be similar in tone to films such as Bend It Like Beckham and East is East, and in ways it was. However, I also felt that this film subverted the British Asian film market slightly too.
A film is nothing without interesting protagonists, and the titular trio of the story are definitely an interesting bunch. You have Amar (Rez Kempton), a Sikh, Akbar (Sam Vincenti), a Muslim, and Tony (Martin Delaney), an Irish Catholic. The three should seem like unlikely friends, but they are shown to be very similar. They are all very clearly depicted as typical Londoners, but also have a lot of Asian culture and heritage influencing them- strangely I include Tony in this. All three are charming and likeable, albeit in very different ways, and each one brings a contrasting element to the dynamic. The chemistry and comradery between the trio felt really natural, and as you watch the film, you really feel yourself becoming part of their little friendship group.
As you start the film, it’s very light-hearted in tone, and you feel that you’re going to be in for a smooth easy ride, but this is not the case. Around half an hour in, a pivotal event happens which makes you realise that maybe this film isn’t what it appears to be on the surface, and it works. Although it does retain its comedy throughout its entirety, the film is also unafraid to tackle some of the larger issues that affect the lives of Asians here in Britain.
One of the main themes which it delves into a little deeper is the idea of societal expectations and judgement. Sometimes it does this in fun ways such as their joking that Asian women are only interested in doctors, but at other times it does this in frank and more dramatic terms. An example of this is the character of Meera (Karen David) and the whole of her backstory. There is a sense of harshness in the way that judgement is shown, but also an honesty which I felt truly reflected those communities if put into those situations. It also explores interracial relationships, homosexuality and the effects of a criminal record, all of which I think they did with tact and introspection.
In fact the whole film feels really honest; it feels true to the London that I see when I’m there. It’s a melting pot of different cultures that seems to fit together perfectly like a jigsaw puzzle.
The film also had a killer soundtrack done by Rishi Rich, one of the top DJs in the British Asian music network. It helped weave that Bollywood flavour into the film, whilst still keeping it firmly set in Britain.
Although I think my perception of the film was slightly biased, due to the fact that I am British Indian, I genuinely thought it was a good watch that can be appreciated by many. Although you can tell that it’s an indie film, in the sense that it’s not the best in terms of visual spectacle, this creates a sense of authenticity, and establishes it as a homegrown film, rather than just a bad one. The acting isn’t always spectacular, but the story has a lot of heart, and in the end, it’s very much a feel-good film. It’s fun, thoughtful, and real. Amar, Akbar & Tony is a delight to watch.
Amar, Akbar & Tony (2015), directed by Atul Malhotra, is distributed in the UK by Sash Media. Certificate 15.