Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore the events surrounding the 1947 independence and partition of India. The real history is far more complex and violent than any film could adequately capture, so Chadha relies on two parallel plots that touch on varied experiences. In the end, the film is lively and enjoyable, with a strong sense of humour and some romantic surges that help the story resonate.
As Britain plans to leave India after three centuries of colonial rule, Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville) arrives in Delhi as the last viceroy, accompanied by his wife Edwina (Gillian Anderson), who takes particular interest in the process, and their daughter Pamela (Lily Travers). Unlike previous rulers, they take a real interest in the local culture, so they know how difficult it will be to avoid bloodshed between clashing Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities. Meanwhile in their house, Hindu guard Jeet (Manish Dayal) is in love with Muslim maid Aalia (Huma Qureshi), wondering if they can to have a life together in a divided nation.
The romantic storyline is a nice counterbalance to the larger political machinations and violent cultural struggles. The way it highlights the issues is rather heavy-handed, but Dayal and Qureshi are charming enough to hold the audience's attention, and where they go isn't as obvious as it seems. Alongside them, Bonneville and Anderson sparkle with wit, stirring some comic relief into even the most intense negotiations. They also nicely play their characters as people of compassion and empathy, a nice contrast to the callous self-interested British diplomats who don't care who gets hurt in the fallout. Somewhere in between are well-meaning roles for acting icons Michael Gambon (as the chief of staff) and Simon Callow (as the man responsible for drawing the line between India and Pakistan).
Continue reading: Viceroy's House Review
The widowed Mrs Sethi (Azmi) is worried that her slightly overweight daughter Roopi (Notay) will never find a husband. Every match she arranges turns Roopi down, which leads Mrs Sethi to react murderously. But now the ghosts (Khan, Bkaskar, Ross and Varrez) of her victims are offering to help in order to improve their chances of reincarnation. Fortunately, Roopi's childhood friend Murthy (Ramamurthy) is back in town and hugely eligible. Unfortunately, he's a detective looking for the killer.
Continue reading: It's A Wonderful Afterlife Review
Project overseers Emmanuel Benbihy and Tristan Carné wanted to create a cinematic map of Paris, with each short film representing one of the city's 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods). They ended up with 18 films, none of them more than a few minutes long and directed by a glittering, international roster of filmmakers. While none of the films here are anything approaching masterpieces, hardly a one is in any way a chore to sit through, which has to be some sort of an accomplishment.
Continue reading: Paris, Je T'aime Review
The film follows Jesminder (Parminder K. Nagra), the child of Punjabi émigrés living in suburban London -- and one of Beckham's biggest fans. Posters of the footballer's exploits cover her walls, she wears his jersey when she plays soccer with the boys in the park, and she studies his moves during games on TV. But it's Jess's soccer skills that catch the eye of Juliette (Keira Knightley), who plays for a local women's soccer club. Jess finds herself recruited and suddenly realizes that soccer dreams of her own are not farfetched.
Continue reading: Bend It Like Beckham Review
The film's families consist of African-American, Asian, Jewish, and Hispanic protagonists, all exaggerated characters who weave in and out of hackneyed plots. From the Jewish perspective, there's the tongue-tied matriarch Seelig (Lainie Kazan) who has an annoyingly cute way of enunciating certain words. Ma Seelig is somewhat speechless when she eventually gets to meet her daughter Rachel's (Kyra Sedgwick) lesbian lover Carla (Julianna Margulies, late of television's ER). Then there's the Spanish viewpoint where an estranged couple, the Avilas (Mercedes Ruehl and Victor Rivers), are forced to reunite upon the insistence of their adult children. There's also obvious tension when Vietnamese Jimmy Nguyen (Will Yun Lee) dares to play footsies with Hispanic Gina Avilas (Isidra Vega). And the black family the Williamses (headed up by Alfre Woodard and Dennis Haysbert) has issues as well.
Continue reading: What's Cooking? Review
The premise is similar to Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Here the setting is moved to India, where the not-so-wealthy (but still rich enough to hire servants) Bakshi family resides in a less-than-touristy district. Mrs. Bakshi (Nadira Babbar) is desperate to marry off her daughters. They include Jaya (Namrata Shirodkar), who has eyes for lawyer Balraj (Lost's Naveen Andrews), and Lalita (Aishwarya Rai) who is interested in Balraj's American friend Will Darcy (Martin Henderson), until she actually bothers to talk to him.
Continue reading: Bride & Prejudice Review
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