Flavors, as the name suggests, offers a flavor of what life is like for Indians newly come to USA – in several different flavors. Its a candid but very sweet and funny look at the trials and joys of the much coveted (in India) NRI life. We get to meet a group of loosely related characters, mostly IT professionals, living on the East coast. We see them all at a wedding and then go back in time to share moments of their life over three weeks as they all converge to meet at the wedding.
There is the quirky Kartik (Reef Malik) who spends most of his time with his not-girlfriend Rachna (Pooja Kumar) on the phone. Thats right, they spend every evening together, on the phone. (I hope they have a good calling plan or a very fat bank balance, at the very least!). They talk about his and her work, friends, life, etc – everything that really good friends talk about. And when Rachna faces a disappointment at work, Kartik arranges to give her a candle-lit dinner complete with Chicken hakka noodles and soft music – also through the magic phone. Still, Rachna is unwilling to consider Kartik as a serious contender in the marital stakes. He just isnt serious enough to be good husband material (?!!!).
Rachna is however, willing to consider the boring Ramana Dasarakothapalli (Manan Katohara) as good marriage material. Why? Coz her match-making Aunt introduced him? No. Its because the guy is willing to make jokes about his long name and ask her some serious questions, “What are your hobbies and interests?”
Then there is Candy (Rishma Malik) and her untidy, out-of-work housemates - Jas (Gaurav Rawal), Vivek (Mohit Shah) and Ashok (Punit Jasuja). The guys have been recently laid off in the wake of the IT slowdown (its 2003 after all!) and are all desperately seeking new jobs. All, that is, except for Vivek. He is busy pining for unrequited and very, VERY, unspoken love for a girl back in India!
There’s one more of the unemployed IT professionals – Nikhil (Gaurang Vyas) - who also gets laid off and is very angry about the whole thing. He lets lose with several colorful swear words that we(sadly) dont get to hear because they’ve been censored out! He is confident of finding a new job pretty soon, though, and is too busy with work to spend much time with his new wife Sangita (Sireesha Katragadda). So poor Sangita is effectively “married but single”. She spends time cleaning and polishing her lovely house and is so tired of her own company that she gladly welcomes a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to her door!
This brings us to the final character in this group - Rads (Anupam Mittal) a successful IT professional who is getting married to his American girl friend Jenni (Jicki Schnee). Its the Rads-Jenni wedding that brings all our friends together and starts out the film. And the two are also responsible for bringing my favorite small-screen couple Mr and Mrs Wagle (Anjan Srivastava and Bharti Achrekar) back on screen. Anjan and Bharti play Rads’ parents – Mr and Mrs Gopalkrishna – and are by far my favorite characters in the film. Their endearing efforts to adjust to life and customs in US, their surprise at the cultural differences between India and the West, AND Mr. Gopalkrishna’s daily quest for a newspaper, reminds me of my own parents’ visits to Canada!
The Gopalkrishnas’ mutual affection and love for their son shines through their sometimes clumsy attempts to connect with their prospective daughter-in-law. They are so cute and endearing that I am not surprised when Jenni agrees to cover her tank-top with a cardigan for their “photos for India”, nor when she happily agrees to add on some Indian traditions in their American-style wedding.
There isnt much of a plot – just a series of loosely connected incidents that allow you to get to know everyone without any lengthy exposition. Though fairly typical of the newly arrived Indian professionals in US, the characters are hardly stereotypes. In Nikhil, Jas, Ashok, Rads, Rachna and Sangita, you will definitely recognise at least some of your Indian acquaintance/friends in North America and in the Gopalkrishnas you will recognise many an Indian parent!