Rahul Khanna, Lisa Ray get rave reviews
Deepa Mehta's Bollywood/ Hollywood premieres at Toronto
Arthur J Pais
The ravishing Lisa Ray's pictures from Bollywood/Hollywood stares at millions of readers from Page One of several Canadian newspapers.
But Deepa Mehta's first truly lighthearted movie, Bollywood/Hollywood, is getting far less attention in Toronto international film festival's media than the totally unheralded movie, A Tale Of A Naughty Girl, by Buddhadeb Dasgupta. And that too despite Bollywood/Hollywood, a love story that pokes fun at Bollywood and Hollywood movies, managed to get the opening spot at the coveted Canada Perspective of TIFF that opened September 5.
In fact, among half a dozen works by Indian directors at TIFF including Shekhar Kapur's The Four Feathers, it is the Dasgupta film that is getting the best raves, followed by Mani Ratnam's A Peck On The Cheek.
The influential Globe And Mail gave its highest rating (four stars) to A Tale Of A Naughty Girl; only one other film, Unknown Pleasures, from China received four stars. Several highly regarded films such as the Cannes winner The Man Without A Past received three-and-half stars. In all, at least 300 feature films are shown at the 27-year-old TIFF, arguably the most popular film festival worldwide, which allows the public to vote on their most favorite film each year.
Dasgupta's lyrical movie revolves around a young woman who seeks to thwart her mother's efforts to force into becoming a 'keep' of an older man. The daughter doesn't want to fall into the trap of sexual servility like her mother did.
'Dasgupta may be without equal in crafting lyrical stories about the forces that threaten to destroy innocence,' wrote Globe And Mail.
The film is set in the year 1969. 'But Dasgupta has fashioned a timeless and almost a flawless tale that speaks to men and women everywhere,' the newspaper added.
Though the film has not yet found an American distributor, several well-known companies that deal with offbeat foreign films have shown keen interest in buying the film. If the deal comes through, North American audiences will be seeing a Bengali film in a very long time.
A Peck On The Cheek, about the search of a young woman for her birth mother, received three stars from Eye, though the reviewer complained the film, which unfolds against the background of civil war in Sri Lanka, wasn't sure which direction it should go. Yet, it was applauded for its performances, entertainment values and gorgeous photography.
Another popular freebee weekly, Now, called it 'magnificent, gorgeous, powerfully human' and gave it four stars, also applauding its entertainment values.
Several early capsule reviews gave the Mehta movie two-and-half stars out of four, though the freebie Eye gave it three stars, applauding Rahul Khanna and Lisa Ray. But even Eye complained the movie wasn't effervescent enough. And Now complained Bollywood/Hollywood 'promises the world in its title but turns out to be the least of both worlds'.
Srinivasa Krishna had tackled a similar subject in Masala with far more dexterity ten years ago, Now observed.
Mehta's movie opens in Canada late October. The American release date has not yet been set.