Bollywood/Hollywood (2002)

(In theaters, November 2002) For a while, this film nearly doesn’t work. Hampered by its low budget, lousy audio, choppy editing, lame comic timing and overall lack of Ooomph, this Canadian Bollywood take-off sputters. Fortunately the luscious Lisa Ray (oooh!) appears on-screen in a tight angora sweatshirt (double oooh!) and this unforgettable sight is soon followed by a fantastic musical number starring Bollywood celebrity Akshaye Khanna. Then we’re ready to follow the film along, wherever it leads. Even if it’s in familiar Pretty Woman territory, despite the self-awareness of director Deepa Mehta’s script. As is the norm with Indian films, the story definitely takes a back seat to the musical numbers (of which there are too few) and the megawatt charm of the leads. The nearly-local Toronto backdrop adds to the enjoyment. Other highlights include a fun group musical number atop an apartment building, a credit sequence starring the film’s crew and amusing subtitles that tell you exactly what the scenes are about. It all amounts to, what else, a fine time at the movies. I could quibble with a lot of other things, but this is the kind of film where I’d feel guilty doing so. Viewers with a deeper familiarity with Bollywood will undoubtedly get more out of this film than I did. I just wish a bigger budget could have accommodated a few more dancers, a few more numbers and a better sound quality.

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