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Bollywood Hollywood

OOPS — JUST for a minute you think you know where that line comes from! Then realisation dawns. Ah! It is from that film where (pronounced as wyere) the father is so angry with his son! And so it goes — Deepa Mehta's directorial venture Bollywood Hollywood (Dream Production) that has comedy as the bottom line. Coming as it does after several of her thought provoking ventures on communal, socio-political issues, this one is a refreshing departure, allowing all of us to know that she does indeed have a quirky sense of humour. But it takes time to figure that out. Just when you think that corny lines are being used, and clichéd situations are being dished out — you can feel the wicked, spoofy attitude to two worlds that have influenced so many, especially in India. You have some stock characters (like Killer Khalsa - its sure to make you laugh wildly) that make up this rather funny film. And several films have inspired these - from Bollywood and some feel good films from Hollywood. And you have a story that is a kind of a Pretty Woman, with some truly cute scenes. Rahul (Rahul Khanna and also obviously Deepa Mehta's favourite hero), a young millionaire (held to keeping up tradition by his dying father who speaks to him through photographs as well), is being pressured by his family consisting of a weepy mother who keeps lamenting how unlucky she is and a grim grandmother who drops sonnets from Shakespeare at the drop of a hat to quickly find a bride before his sister's engagement ceremony or else...! All the while, scenes from Bollywood films play in the background on the TV for that touch of irony. Predictably he is already in love with a Britney Spears clone - `a gori ladki' as it were- and naturally she is most inappropriate for a family such as this. When she dies while in a levitating exercise (a very tongue in cheek comment on the West's fascination of things Indian) the family is overjoyed er... overwhelmed, and thinks this is the time to coerce Rahul into matrimony with the `right girl! And then of course, he meets Sue (Lisa Ray) a girl who he thinks is a Spanish escort woman and throws her a deal she cannot refuse. `Pose as my fiance till the engagement is over,' he tells her and she says ``I can be whatever you want me to be."

But then nothing is what it seems and Lisa is actually no Hispanic, but a second-generation Toronto born `Bhatinda girl' at loggerheads with a mechanic father, pining for his beloved Punjab. But she is also very lovable and endears herself to the family — Mom, Dadi and younger brother, who learns the meaning of confidence through her! If all fall for her charms can Rahul be far behind? He finds himself drawn to her, despite the contract. And all would have been well, but for some glitches in the form of one drunk recognising Sue as an escort woman - ``I know everyone woman I've slept with" he thunders. Rahul is confused! Does he believe him or her? Which brings the film to a point where you know what will happen and its done very cutely with several goofy situations thrown in.

But for the rather slow pace and some very dull visuals, (considering the nature of the film- it could have done with more glamour and color) the film is one restrained riot. It's a departure for Rahul Khanna as well to play this millionaire tycoon trying to deal with the situation at home. He is comfortable up to a point and there is great debate about wonderful histrionics, because all he has to do is to look pretty upset most of the time. But he makes for a very heart warming Rahul. Throwing Akshaya Khanna as himself to the screams and enthusiastic responses in the picture is a nice stroke and a double bonanza for fans of the Khanna brothers. Moushmi Chatterjee as the maudlin mom warms up to the end- when you don't really mind her refrains and vanity - you actually begin to find her very funny.

Dina Pathak, that veteran actress who did not live to see the film in all its glory, is amazingly good. One wishes that she were still around. Kulbhushan Kharbanda as the Bollywood-obsessed father with his deadpan way of delivering the funniest lines, will make you laugh at the most inappropriate times. As for Lisa Ray, the artiste who makes you sit up with the ease with which she has tackled the role of Sue, short for Sunita. Coming as she does from an Indo-Canadian background, she has understood the nuances of an Indian living in a foreign country. She is particularly good when she is made to feel like a `deal.' Music by Sandeep Chowta is ok — many of the background scores are actually Rahman's tunes and songs (used in the background on TV or as songs for an occasion) — his compositions don't particularly make you hum along. Neither do the choreographed dances that lack lustre and verve. Now after all this, should one see the film? Well yes! If you have a droll sense of humour and can see the funnier side of movies!

CHITRA MAHESH

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