by Dan DeMaggio
This comedy from Ypsilanti software engineer /filmmaker Raj Nidimoru bills itself as a “new age Indian film.” Having no idea what an “old age” Indian film may look like (Are they those big, bloated musical Bollywood things?), I am forced to concede that this is indeed a “new age Indian film.” Whatever “age” Flavors chooses to spring from, it bears more than a striking resemblance to the current trend by young filmmakers to make its point with too many story lines, too many characters and snippets of scenes and themes too vague to have any lasting impact. The whole telling-a-story-from-end-to-beginning narrative gimmick is getting a bit stale too. It adds nothing in the way of dramatic tension or suspense and the few surprises the technique provides in this case are not worth all the confusion and busyness you’re put through.
Flavors tells the interconnected tales of a dozen people of Indian descent living in America, visiting America, bored with America, fighting to keep their software engineer jobs in America and falling in love and getting married in America. The focal point of all of the intersecting and parallel story lines is the impending “mixed” marriage of Rad (Anupam Mittal) to the skinny, blond and oh-so-American Jenni (Jicky Schnee). Rad is a successful and handsome computer specialist. Jenni is a twitchy and thoroughly modern career woman absorbing a lesson in Hindi culture from Rad’s parents, who are visiting from India for the wedding.
Mom and Dad, in a gentle and often humorous way, find out enough about Jenni and her upbringing to worry them. Interrogations and subsequent “lessons” about the way things are done back in India are the best scenes in the film. They’re lighthearted and breezy, yet effectively communicate what all parents go through when sizing up the person responsible for their offspring’s eventual marital bliss or torture.
Mom and Dad are played by veteran Indian actors Bharati Achrekar and Anjan Srivastava. Their nuanced and warm performances are a welcome respite from the other performers who come off stiff and amateurish.
Other stories in the film involve a gang of mercenary software writers living in a house run by a beautiful “house mother.” Candy (Rishma Malik) goads and reprimands and pushes the three young men in her charge to keep the faith, whether they are crippled by unrequited love or unemployment or whatever else bedevils the lonely expatriates. There is another story line about a bored housewife and her workaholic husband and another about two “friends” who explore their feelings about each other when a suitor comes a-calling.
But actual Flavors? Just one: Saccharine.
In English and Hindi with English subtitles. Flavors opens Friday, July 16, at the Goodrich Novi Town Center 8, located at 26085 Town Center Drive in Novi. Call 248-465-7469.
Dan DeMaggio writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.