Friday, August 17, 2007



After having read for months about Salman Khan’s “Hollywood debut”, getting a Marigold at the end of the rainbow is a rude anti-climax. First of all Willard Carroll isn’t exactly Steven Spielberg or James Cameron, so why all the gloating? And then to have the great crossover sink like deadweight it something Salman won’t be able to live down.

And if all the talk of Holly-Bolly partnership, is going to produce such weird cross-breeds, aren’t we better of as pure desi?

The film is one long yawn with some unintended chuckles – many of them caused by Salman Khan’s hilarious accent; is this what he had been practicing for years to perfect?

So Marigold (Ali Larter) is a failed American actress with attitude problems. She lands up in Goa to do a film, only to find that her movie is not happening. With the help of a production assistant, (Suchitra Pillai) she gets a small part in a Bollywood movie, but she can’t dance. But the choreographer Prem (Khan) teaches her to feel the music and transforms her into a dancer. Now imagine, the stars of the film being made (by Rakesh Bedi) are Vikas Bhalla and a ‘beauty queen’ Simone Singh. Try to get the in-joke if you can!

After some time-wasting, the film ends up in Rajasthan, where, Marigold (pronounced in a dozen different ways) finds out that Prem is actually a prince, and is supposed to marry an Indian girl Janvi (Nandana Sen—not even given enough costumes!). Meanwhile her boyfriend Barry (Ian Bohen) turns up too, and well nobody’s really interested in who pairs up with whom. And don’t even ask what an ‘Eklavya’-costumed Gulshan Grover is doing here, but he is apparently de rigueur for all made-in-India Hollywood films.

Every time an outsider tries to do a ‘Bollywood’ extravaganza, they end up with a loony film like this. (Eg. Gurinder Chadha Bride and Prejudice). If it is for an international market, then the audience there is going to confirm its worst impressions of Bollywood films—that they are dumb, plot-less, song-and-dance shows. For the Indian audience, this is a throwback to the time a lot of mainstream films were dumb and plot-less, but the worst of them was not as bad as this.

Most of our films have decent performances; and for a dance spectacle, at least the music and choreography should have been above the ordinary. If Marigold was meant to be a tribute to Bollywood kitsch, it falls far short—it’s tacky all the way.

Buddha Mar Gaya

This is what happens when a director loses his touch and tries to imitate a successful film. Rahul Rawail –still respected for Arjun and Dacait—goes to a place lower than rock bottom with Buddha Mar Gaya, in his attempt to copy the low-budget ensemble comedy Malamaal Weekly.

The idea is the same—a group of people have to keep a dead man ‘alive’ for a few days for monetary gain, but unlike the relatively clean Priyadarshan comedy, this one crams in every vulgarity, every perversion possible, as the censors go on holiday.

A wealthy industrialist LK (Anupam Kher) dies a day before his company’s IPO is to be announced, while he is in bed with struggling (used as an euphemism for sleeping around!) actress (Rakhi Sawant—in various stages of undress). The family, on the advice of a guru Vidyut Baba (Om Puri), decides to keep his death a secret so that share prices don’t crash.

Members of this supposedly rich family dress like tramps and live in a garishly hideous mansion with huge portraits of LK all over. If Rawail was trying to say that wealth doesn’t buy taste, he succeeds in conveying it, but it seems more likely that he had a colour blind set decorator and some fashion street vendor as wardrobe supervisor.

In trying to keep hearse-chasing media from finding out about the death, they have to fake funerals of fictitious relatives and succumb to blatant blackmail by the servant (Paresh Rawal). There’s enough brewing in the family itself to keep a Balaji soap in business for a few years—everything from incest to gay affairs.

This film isn’t funny, it’s sick; and what sadder is that Rawail has lined up some of the best comic actors in films, plus some—like Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal from the English stage, forced into some cheap gags with Om Puri, who shouldn’t have even listened to the narration of this film, leave aside done it. Ditto for Paresh Rawal, Prem Chopra, Ranvir Shorey, Vinay Pathak and the rest.


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