Amar Akbar Anthony was the highest grossing Bollywood film in 1977, and now British filmmaker Atul Malhotra has used the celebrated Manmohan Desai comedy as a basis in which to create his debut feature. This is by no means a remake, but there’s a similarity in terms of tone, as this picture maintains that sense of irreverence and charm – though where this differs, and to be frank, is that this independent feature is unlikely to be topping any box offices any time soon, and for good reason.

Amar (Rez Kempton), Akbar (Sam Vincenti) and Tony (Martin Delaney) are best friends, and have been since childhood. Young, exuberant and idealistic, the trio have big plans for their future, particularly for Amar, who is on the road to becoming a successful lawyer, and a husband. But when attacked in a nightclub by the older brother of Tony’s crush, the scrap that transpires turns ugly, and Amar’s life is thrown into disarray when landing a prison sentence as a result. Will the dynamic between these friends still be the same upon his release, and will Amar’s family and fiancée ever forgive him for his actions?

Though in the synopsis provided, the prison narrative would appear to be the prevalent issue, it’s merely one of many conflicting story-lines, as each and every character has their own personal battles to overcome, not to mention the myriad of supporting roles, such as Amar’s sister (Goldy Notay), his sexually confused uncle Jay (Tanveer Ghani), or even Akbar’s love interest Samantha (Laura Aikman). What transpires is an incredibly convoluted piece of cinema, attempting to fit a million and one stories into this modest running time. Each story is worthy of its own movie, attempted suicides, the three protagonists opening a restaurant together, their respective romantic exploits, etc. But where Malhotra suffers, is by not choosing one to focus on primarily, or have as a lead. What’s the overriding, paramount issue here? We drift carelessly between narratives, never giving each individual one enough attention to ensure we’re emotionally engaged.

The picture is entertaining though, and easy to indulge in, and enjoy. Particularly in how self-deprecating the feature is, affectionately poking fun at the British-Asian community in a playful manner. The depiction of London is authentic too, just in the way the streets have been presented, it all feels familiar, which is something of a rarity where cinema is concerned. However when you have a low-budget feature of this ilk, there is always the risk that the lack of money could result in a lack of talent, and sadly some of the below-par acting performances are testament to that notion.

Nonetheless, it’s refreshing to see a depiction of British-Asian culture that feels in tune with reality and contemporary society, and though of course this is a heightened, comedically exaggerated affair, the liberal protagonists smoke marijuana, they drink, they have sex in the back seat of a car, and they can be homosexual – just like anybody else, as this film remains crucially representative of an entire generation.