Vancouver-set Beeba Boys a generic gangster flick with a Punjabi twist

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      Starring Randeep Hooda. In English and Punjabi, with English subtitles. Rated 14A.

      The generic gangster flick gets a Punjabi twist in Beeba Boys, an initially grabby, Vancouver-set tale that quickly runs out of steam.

      What’s special is that it delves into a Sikh subculture marked in the 1990s by internecine warfare, as first-generation youth ganged up to do illicit stuff, and worse, at the behest of seemingly legitimate businessmen. It’s a shame that this violent yet lightweight tale isn’t set then, because moving those period-specific events into the present, with ubiquitous cellphones and all that, doesn’t do the story, the Sikh community, or the audience any favours.

      The film’s reliance on generic gangster tropes—unimproved by inspiration, budget, or exemplary acting—is its biggest problem. At the high-energy start, we’re introduced to sharp-suited Jeet (Bollywood star Randeep Hooda) and his Beeba Boys. (Beeba means “good”, underlining the debt to Goodfellas.) Over head-banging bhangra music, each Boy is given a freeze-frame and a title card. But we don’t really get to know any of these cold-blooded killers except turban-wearing, joke-collecting Manny, played by The Darjeeling Limited’s Waris Ahluwalia.

      Still living with his parents and small son (Samir Amarshi) in a classic Vancouver Special, Jeet has the expected problems reconciling family life with his business tactics. This isn’t helped by his liaison with the blond bunny (Sarah Allen) who happens to be a juror in a current court case. (His time in jail results in an amusing visit to the TV room, where he beats up another prisoner because “I can’t hear Suzuki!”) Then there’s his uneasy friendship with a new BB (Ali Momen) who might actually be working for a rival gang.

      In the end, there are too many developments that leave you wondering how so-and-so knew so much about what happened to whosit. And what’s unique about the film is forgotten under the weight of what’s already far too familiar.