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‘Polite Society’ – a ride like no other – Kung Fu sister comedy is a delight! (review)

‘Polite Society’ – a ride like no other – Kung Fu sister comedy is a delight! (review)

A film that is entertaining and says a lot about sisterhood and family, from the creator of Channel 4 TV’s ‘We are Lady Parts’

THIS is simply one of the best films you will see this year and if you don’t see it in the cinema – you’re going to be missing out, big time.

Writer-director Nida Manzoor brings a wonderful energy to the big screen and her lead character Ria Khan (Priya Kansara) is a brilliant, utterly believable and very likeable girl force – despite some very obvious flaws.

Kansara, in her first big feature role, is sensational and manages to hold the screen effortlessly – this is as good a debut as you will see – for a long time and certainly this year.

Young girls everywhere will be identifying with Ria (in the same way that they did with Jess {Parminder Nagra} in ‘Bend it Like Beckham’).

Ria Khan (Priya Kansara centre) and her girl gang Clara (Seraphina Beh) and Alba (Ella Bruccoleri) Picture: Parisa Taghizadeh / © 2023 FOCUS FEATURES LLC.

This has all the signs that it will become a totemic film in the same way as that – and Manzoor has announced herself as a fresh voice – with a lot to say and no amount of flair and panache to match.

Ria has set her heart on becoming a stuntwoman and spends a lot of time practising her moves and runs her own Youtube channel displaying her talents and calling herself ‘The Fury’.

Her big sister Lena (Ritu Arya) is her videographer and it is clear the two are close and very much support each other but when they don’t, they fight, literally!

Into this dynamic, steps a man – Salim (Akshay Khanna). He is a doctor, handsome, buff and committed to saving babies and women.

What is not to like about him? Most young women swoon, Ria snarls. Lovely.

Lena falls for him and her own rocky path to becoming a painter/artist is shelved for the delights of being married to one of the most eligible men going.

Ria Khan (Priya Kansara) and sister Lena (Ritu Arya). Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / © 2023 FOCUS FEATURES LLC.

As you can probably tell Ria isn’t impressed by any of this and urges Lena to reconsider and with her cool gang – Clara (Seraphine Beh) and Alba (Ella Bruccoleri) set about making Lena see sense.

There is a hilarious gym scene but there is a sting in this tale – in that Ria’s initial attempts are a disaster and alienate her from her friends and family.

The action scenes are great and the humour is also on-point and well done.

The Khans wear their culture lightly but proudly as the wedding scene illustrates.

Manzoor has captured teenage angst very skilfully and presented it in a way that is true and recognisable.

It’s hard to find anything about this film that would put us off recommending it to anyone – if you don’t like funny movies and can’t abide films that require some flight of your own imagination, or you just don’t like stylised mock fight scenes, then yes – perhaps, it’s not for you. But even still, we think even those very hard to please could be charmed and won over.

Well done everyone on ‘Polite Society’ and made with a mainly female-led crew, this is inspiring to filmmakers everywhere – find your tribe and execute.

We’ve been tracking this film since its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in the US earlier this year (and would have seen it but for technical issues).

Now it’s arrived at home, we can shout about it and tell the world about this unique, great British film.

Britain has another wonderful filmmaker – her name is Nida Manzoor – watch her fly high!
(Sailesh Ram)

ACV rating: ***** (Five out of five).

Polite Soceity is out on general release in the UK from tomorrow (Friday, April 28).

Seen our videos – Red Carpet/Green Carpet and interviews with Ritu Arya and Nimra Bucha

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture