Polite Society (2023) Movie Review – The Desi parody of spy comedies wins hearts

The Desi parody of spy comedies wins hearts

Move over Bond, there’s a new spy in town, and she’s spicing up the espionage game with a delightful Desi twist. Polite Society, a hilarious spy comedy, follows Ria Khan, a Pakistani teen from London who’s about to turn the spy world upside down. But wait, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill Bollywood extravaganza either. This parody takes the tried-and-true Hollywood format and drenches it in Desi masala, leaving you in splits and craving more. 

Priya Kansara breathes life into Ria Khan, our spunky teenage protagonist with an overactive imagination. Ria dreams of being a kickass stuntwoman, but alas, perfecting the flying reverse spin kick seems to elude her. She dotes on her older sister Lena, an art school dropout who is happy to live a gritty life, played by Ritu Arya of The Umbrella Academy fame but trouble is afoot when their family is invited to an Eid soiree hosted by the affluent Shahs. 

Ria’s radar starts beeping when she suspects the hostess, Raheela, of something fishy. But, oh boy, no one else seems to see it. Things take a turn for the worse when Lena starts donning cardigans and dating Raheela’s son, Salim. Before you know it, Ria is on a mission to kidnap her sister from her own wedding. Talk about family drama!

Polite Society paints an exaggerated yet oh-so-relatable picture of the vibrant brown community. From the intricately carpeted and colourfully adorned interiors to the toe-tapping Bollywood-style music, every frame oozes Desi vibes.

We get the whole shebang such as the arranged marriages and the big fat Desi wedding complete with the dance numbers. Pretty traditional outfits for Ria and Lena at the wedding somehow remind us of Padma and Parvati in Harry Potter who deserved better than those audacious orange-pink monstrosities they were given. 

And let’s not forget the blend of annoying but loveable sibling dynamic, and the snarky comments and gossiping of the adults like the shaving myth and fatphobic backhanded compliments that all brown people are familiar with. 

But don’t take this parody too seriously, folks! Polite Society embraces its wackiness with dramatic zoom-ins and cheap disguises, as we have Ria looking like a 5-foot little man at the gym to stalk Salim. Oh, the lengths one goes for love and espionage! The obvious bad guy, Raheela is reminiscent of the mother-in-law in Desi serials, but of course, the film takes it one step further – she can fight, and oh, how exciting is that?

Yes, we’re talking chains replaced by wedding dupattas to tie down prisoners, while the audience fights on in glamorous anarkalis and lehengas. And as if that weren’t enough, we’re treated to the cutest Desi version of an eloping couple, munching away at a diner in their wedding attire.

The Khan sisters kick it up a notch with broken doors and mirrors as they bleed their way through epic fights that would make James Bond hesitate. The action scenes are deliciously over-the-top, bordering on the absurd, but that’s precisely where the charm lies. Prepare for Mission Impossible-esque stunts that defy logic but tickle your funny bone nonetheless.

And brace yourself for a torture scene with a twist—Ria being subjected to a waxing session while the villain monologues. Ouch! It is also pretty cool how self-aware the movie is. At one point the teens who make up Ria’s crew say “There’s a reason why tropes are tropes, it’s because they work,” and Polite Society does exactly that as it takes those tropes and spins them into comedic gold.

But beneath the chaos, there’s a heartfelt story about family and love. With cool choreographed action sequences and a pace that keeps you on the edge of your seat, Polite Society delivers a fun-filled rollercoaster ride from start to finish. So, buckle up and join Ria Khan on her outrageous Desi spy adventure.

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  • Verdict - 6.5/10

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