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Bollywood/Hollywood

Deepa Mehta

Bollywood/Hollywood
Though Deepa Mehta is one of the few Canadian filmmakers to put South Asian immigrant families in the spotlight, her much-hyped film lacks both substance and spice. It centres on Rahul Seth (Rahul Khanna), a 20-something dot-com millionaire, and all-round good Indian boy, suddenly under fire from his widowed Mummyji (Moushimi Chatterjee) to find a suitable bride before his sister's wedding. The guilt of dharma and family honour lead him to seek the help of Sue Singh (Lisa Ray), a prostitute whom he initially takes to be Spanish. After all, Indian girls don't do that sort of thing and, unfortunately, Sue's character doesn't do it very well either. It's hard to believe that any young, brown-skinned woman can walk through the red-light district without scars. Equally unconvincing are Sue's reasons for leaving her working-class, patriarchal Punjabi home. Beyond this critique, one can't help but fall in love with Ray's performance. She carries the sexual exuberance of a great Hindi heroine, but expands that archetype with tireless wit, humour and spontaneity. The mini-documentaries on the DVD pride Bollywood/Hollywood as a tribute to Toronto's multi-cultural landscape, and while landmarks include everything from "Little India" Gerard to my parents' street in the desi-hood of North Etobicoke, Mehta's vision of our beloved Megacity is mostly a sterile one. You really notice it when Rahul's driving on the Gardiner and there's nobody in the other lanes. This Egoyan-esque emptiness is echoed through the minimal use of sound throughout the film, save the dance numbers, which do compensate well. Weaknesses aside, Bollywood/Hollywood does satisfy our narcissistic desires to gaze at both South Asian-GTA life, and might even spark a second viewing for similar reasons. Extras: Featurette; opening night clips; interview with Lisa Ray; director's commentary; photos; trailer gallery; two great deleted scenes and a hilarious Absolut ad in the form of a Bollywood film promo. (Mongrel Media)
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