Sunday, July 24, 2005

Baiscope movie recommendation #4

This week: Masala (1991) - Good fortune, bad Karma

The second generation Indian theme has inspired a myriad of movies in recent years like ABCD, American Desi, Bollywood Hollywood, American Chai, etc . Most of them shove their central theme of cultural dislocation and identity crisis in your face, resulting in uni-dimensional characters and un-imaginative love stories. It is natural for film pioneers in second generation Indian community to tackle the identity conundrum, but when you get the 109th version of the same movie, you get a bit tired.

Lost in this recent deluge is the film that started it all, a little known gem from Toronto, Canada by Srinivas Krishna. Synopsis by Rotten Tomatoes:
"Masala", the first feature by actor/director Srinivas Krishna, is a rich and heady mixture of genres and moods. The film's story jumps easily from serious explorations of racism and youthful anomie to witty parodies of such Indian cultural staples as Hinduism and the fantastic Bombay musical.
Krishna, a recovering drug addict who lost his entire family in a plane crash, is released from rehab and heads for his uncle Lalu Bhai's home. Immediately Krishna finds himself in a strange world where old values clash with new, and where the most important Hindu God carries on a sarcastic communication with mortals via the VCR. But even more explosive situations exist: a group of bigots are after Krishna, radical Sikh terrorists rent the basement of Bhai's sari shop, and the government is out to reclaim possession of a rare stamp that has fallen into the hands of Bhai's cousin.
It's a surefire recipe for pandemonium and disaster...
Unlike the more recent movies in this genre, the second-generation-Indian theme tends to inform the larger plot, rather than dominate it. The movie is intelligent and some of the sub-plots are bizarre and hilarious at the same time. Dvd Verdict has a more detailed review.


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