‘Polite Society’, a ‘bonkers’ multi-genre martial arts adventure

LOS ANGELES: When “Bridgerton” actor Priya Kansara first read the script for the action-comedy film “Polite Society,” she thought it was “kind of bonkers,” but knew immediately that she wanted to be part of it.

“It was just so original,” she told Reuters, and her co-lead, “Umbrella Academy” actor Ritu Arya, could not agree more.

The Focus Features film, which opened in theaters on Friday, travels between British-Pakistani teen angst to video game-style wedding heist combat, playing out against a punchy soundtrack.

Arya describes the movie as an “eclectic funny world where you just don’t know where it’s going to go, full of real characters and real relationships.”

“Polite Society” tells the story of teenager and aspiring stuntwoman, Ria Khan, who Kansara portrays, and her older sister Lena Khan, played by Arya.

When Lena drops out of art school and quickly gets engaged, Ria and her friends plan a bride-heist of epic proportions.

Director Nida Manzoor’s first feature film scored a 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival.

Critics have praised the quirky martial arts film for its inspiring and unconventional representation of compelling women and girls.

In his review, Nick Schager of “The Daily Beast” describes the movie as a “rambunctious affair about fighting the patriarchy and, just as importantly, the old-school tiger moms who support it.”

Both Kansara and Arya saw the film as an opportunity to not only bring something outside the box to the cinematic world, but also centre it around women-power.

“Strong women come from strong women,” Kansara said. “This is just what we know and it’s just so beautiful to see this on screen.”

Arya added that it is important to see the women in this multi-generational feature as strong, but also vulnerable and flawed.

The sisterly love between Ria and Lena is one of the central depictions of both strength and imperfection in the movie, as Arya describes Lena as being “a mess” but still feeling responsible for looking after her little sister and supporting her.

“They’re connected and they’re going to go on this journey together to figure that out,” she said.

While Lena must search for clarity, Ria has a sense of self that she carries throughout the film as she trains to become a stuntwoman.

“She’ll go to the ends of the earth to achieve what she wants,” Kansara said.

Kansara admires her character for encouraging herself when it is not something everyone can do for themselves, especially when their dreams are a bit more unusual.


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