Monday, October 22, 2007

Film Review: Loins Of Punjab Presents

Seriously funny

Director: Manish Acharya
Starring: Shabana Azmi, Ayesha Dharker, Jameel Khan, Darshan Jariwala, Manish Acharya, Seema Rahmani
Stars: ***1/2

When you see an NRI audience at New Jersey hooting an American contestant (Josh)at a desi music competition for being an 'outsider', you know it's great subversive humour at play. Again, in one of the film’s earlier sequences, Josh asks his Indian girlfriend (Ayesha Dharker), if she’s feeling ‘ashamed’ of having a foreigner boyfriend?
This is, of course, hinting at the huge premium laid on everything ‘desi’ by the NRI population these days, where Bollywood is of course, a sacrosanct term.The result is a piquant desi curry, a feisty farce that manages to be an amusing, rip-roarious comedy on the surface, with a simmering grim subtext.

Not surprisingly, all kinds of desis want to try their luck when a singing contest called Desi Idol is peddled. And it’s quite a mix here... you have the chic, weight-throwing socialite (Shabana Azmi, crooning Churaliya Hai Tumne), wanting to use the cash prize for some publicity-earning charity. There’s the pretty crooner (Preeti), accompanied by her khakra eating, porn watching extended Gujarati family (this is an uproariously funny group) Then you have two gay Bhagara singers, walking hand in hand, displaying great penchant for sexual innuendoes. There’s the talent-less but trying Bollywood aspirant (Seema Rehmani) and then there’s director Manish Acharya himself, who turns in a fine performance, as a statistics spouting Bachchan fanatic. While every performance is delightful here, the show stealer is Jameel Khan, as the vulgar, loutish event manager.

Ironically, it is the film’s most visible star, Shabana Azmi who somewhat disappoints in her role. One imagined this to be a delicious prospect, watching Azmi playing a crafty socialite but somehow the character slips into predictable zones ever so often. But then, Shabana, even at her average best, is far more interesting to watch than all of today's leading ladies put together.
Director Manish Acharya makes a smashing debut with this quirky fare that is both uproariously funny and deliciously subversive in its humour. With its laugh-a-minute brilliant dialogues, this is a complete multiplex entertainer and 90 minutes of tear-inducing laughter fest.

- Sandhya Iyer


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