As an Olivier Award-winning British play about young Indian newly-weds that toured the globe, it was always inevitable that someone would look at Ayub Khan-Din’s Rafta, Rafta and think ‘BAFTA, BAFTA’. Enter Made in Dagenham’s Nigel Cole, who directs the likeable big screen adaptation All in Good Time (2012) (which takes its title from the influential 1963 Bill Naughton play of the same name) complete with a light touch and a talented cast.
How hard is it for a couple to have their first bonk in Bolton? Atul (Reece Ritchie) and Vina (Amara Karan) find out the hard way. Their wedding goes smoothly, but once back at Atul’s cramped family home, everything goes wrong: parents intrude; bedposts break; and honeymoons are cancelled. All the while, their marriage goes unconsummated and gossip begins to spread through the town’s small immigrant community. If you’re already thinking of 1999’s East is East, don’t be surprised – Khan-Din wrote that too. Similar themes crop up, from integration and infidelity to sexual identity and overbearing fathers.
While events feel familiar, All in Good Time works by selling its characters. The earnest Ritchie and independent Karan are a natural fit as the young pair, nailing the naive angst over popping your cherry, especially when your parents are right in the next room. Reprising their roles from the stage production, Harish Patel’s father of the bridegroom and Meera Syal’s mother are equally excellent. At first, Patel’s drunken dad appears overplayed (“Jesus doesn’t eat curry!” he shouts at the wedding reception) but he and Syal carefully expand their marital history, hitting unexpected notes of pathos that counter all the obvious gags.
You may not always believe that a young couple’s copulation could cause such heightened drama, but the ensemble are so effective that these little ripples do feel like big issues. Even Four Lions’ (2010) Arsher Ali makes sure his token best friend role is convincing.
The father-son bonding scenes are undeniably heavy-handed and the sentiment is sometimes over-played, but Cole knows how to helm a feel-good flick and keeps things moving fast enough. The result is a cute production that, whilst hardly a breakthrough for the British film industry, has enough laughter to stop it becoming a hard graft. A sure-fire BAFTA nominee? Maybe not, but if you liked East is East, All in Good Time should be a definite watch.