DEAD BEAT: Rahul (Rahul Khanna) and Sunita (Lisa Ray).
Cast: Rahul Khanna, Lisa Ray
Dir: Deepa Mehta
IN THE film, a character comments, "Hollywood, Bollywood -- different wood, same tree." The line seemed so inspirational that the production house is named after it.
The line actually serves to underline the timber of the film - the dead wood in the screenplay, the acting, the direction, the humour and worst of all the sensibility.
We all know the extravagance and the illogicality of a regular Bollywood flick. And it definitely is not a sacred topic that cannot be poked fun at. All of us love our movie jokes - "Mere pass maa hai" has been subverted time and again to hilarious effect.
It is the treatment as always that matters. A successful Bollywood-centric joke would be if it were in the right spirit - a mixture of affection, intelligence and exasperation. Which is precisely our reaction to Bollywood.
Mehta in Bollywood/Hollywood has an unpardonable patronising attitude tempered with unintelligent ridicule, which is unacceptable and boring to boot.
We would have forgiven her anglophile angle had the film been a savage satire of Bollywood. Instead the film plays like a tiring retread of tasteless dim-witted jokes that insult the viewer's intelligence. If this is the Mehta's way of getting her own back after the Water fiasco, then it is a losing proposition.
Rahul Seth is a dotcom millionaire who is in love with a pop star Kimberley Stewart much to his orthodox Hindu family's horror. Kimberley dies in a freak levitation accident and there is pressure from home in the form of a hysterical mum and a Shakespeare-quoting granny to find a good Hindu bride before sister Twinky's wedding. And so Rahul hires Sunita Singh, an escort, to play his bride.
Mehta mocks the predictability of a masala film and is guilty of precisely the same thing as the film limps from one stock situation to another without any attempt at innovation or inspiration.
All artistes ham and the audience is too far gone to care if it is supposed to be a parody of Bollywood style acting. Kulbhushan Kharbanda walks through his part of honest mechanic Singh, Sunita's dad, while Dina Pathak and Moushumi Chatterjee have fun with their roles as Rahul's grandmaji and mother respectively. Rahul Roy and Lisa Ray look good as Rahul and Sunita but not much can be said about their acting. The music by Sandeep Chowta goes in for the exaggerate mode.
The film ends with a red curtain being drawn on the proceedings reminding one of another director who is so totally into the red curtain school of cinema - Baz Luhrmann.
The similarity ends there. While Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge was a wonderful, electrifying, exhilarating tribute to our naach gaana, Mehta's Bollywood/Hollywood is a limping joke that falls flat leaving a bad taste in the mouth.
Send this article to Friends by