A satire on the Indian-American fixation on all things Bollywood, writes Sneha May Francis
Loins of Punjab presents
cast Shabana Azmi, Ayesha Dharker, Ajay Naidu, Jameel Khan, Darshan Jariwala, Loveleen Mishra, Michael Raimondi
director Manish Acharya
ame has an enticing power. It lures people and causes them to push their limits so they too can have a slice of the popularity pie. It’s this desire to be number one that forces an eclectic bunch of Indians to flock to a little town in New Jersey for the title of ‘Desi Idol’. It’s American Idol, flavoured with desi style.
And like all talent hunts, this one is also more about the politics and less about the talent. Sponsored by Loins of Punjab, the contest is spread over three days, with filmmaker Acharya introducing us to the eccentric contestants one by one. Each contestant is determined to impress the judges just as they are in American Idol, except there’s no tight-lipped Simon Cowell here.
As each contestant is called in for the audition, you witness the most amusing vocal presentation, which paves the way for some hilarious moments. The only difference is Acharya’s potshot at the Bollywood obsessed Indian-American community who fine-tune their vocal chords to Indian movie songs.
The ‘Desi Idol’ contestants are put up in a hotel much to the dismay of resident guests, namely an elderly and paranoid post 9/11 American couple!
Only a handful of performances stand out – Shabana Azmi excels as the highly-strung socialite Rrita Kapoor, Ishitta Sharma plays the docile Gujarati girl Preeti Patel to a tee, Ajay Naidu’s act as a bhangra-hip-hop singer who wears a turban is a riot, Darshan Jariwala and Loveleen Mishra (Humlog’s chirpy Chutki) give the caricaturish Gujarati bandwagon a mature touch. In addition to directing the movie, Acharya doubles up as contestant Vikram Tejwani, a jobless IT geek who jots down life in percentages. Michael deserves a special mention for portraying an American participant with maturity – it’s probably because he had the talented Ayesha Dharker to give him support.
On the whole, this 90-minute flick is the perfect recipe for an enjoyable evening. Go on, buy a bucket of popcorn and get ready for some entertainment.
Published in e+, Gulf News, 03.09.09