Monday, November 9, 2009

Flavors (2003) – the joys of NRI life

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!
Do give it a try. Its an engaging, amusing and heartwarming film that leaves a smile on your face, long after you’ve seen it! (You can watch it for free at Big Flix. The film is almost entirely in English, with a few stray Hindi and Telugu dialogues that are well subtitled.)

17 comments:

  1. This sounds so sweet! I'll have to give it a look. (Too cute about the cardigan for photos!)

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  2. Manan!! Hee!! I didn't know he was an actor!! He's a local big-wig down here in DC... :)

    This sounds like a cute film!

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  3. Though fairly typical of the newly arrived Indian professionals in US, the characters are hardly stereotypes.

    That's good to know! It's always worrisome about films with this kind of plot, but I'll definitely look into this. Didn't even know it existed, thank you Bollyviewer!

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  4. Oh, this sounds like so watchable! - but then I have to admit that anything with Anjan Srivastav and Bharati Achrekar in substantial roles is sure to appeal to me. I loved Wagle ki Duniya.

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  5. ajnabi, the tank top was "too much exposing" for the purpose of "photos for India". :-) Do remember to carry a cardigan for your photos-for-India! ;-)

    Filmi Girl, dont tell me he is really in the IT industry! That would be filmi!!

    theBollywoodFan, its sad that independent films with unknown actors get very little publicity. Its the viewers' loss too, when they dont get marketed properly. This one certainly deserved it!

    dustedoff, Mr and Mrs Wagle err... I meant the Gopalkrishnas were the best part of the film. They are just so believable as a couple and as the somewhat clueless Indian parents on their first trip abroad.

    Wagle Ki Duniya was awesome - I hope someone puts it on DVD soon. Old TV serials seem to have it much worse than old films!

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  6. Yes, there were so many wonderful old TV serials that have simply disappeared. I hope Doordarshan archive them properly at least - one wouldn't want a repeat of what happened to Alam Ara.

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  7. Awww this looks sweet. Maybe I could even get some of my Indian friends to watch it (not NRI but ABCD) with me. They refuse to watch Hindi movies (don't know what they are missing)...

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  8. dustedoff, I wouldnt be surprised if they did go the Alam Ara way! As long as they saved the important ones - like Wagle Ki Duniya, Nukkad, Intezaar, Trishna, Kakkaji Kahin, etc.

    memsaab, Hindi films arent cool enough for the ABCD crowd yet, I suppose! Even among the NRIs, its usually the women who seem to be more enthusiastic. Sweet though it is, this one is unlikely to appeal to the ABCD crowd - the characters are all proper NRIs!

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  9. This does look like something maybe worth the time. And, somehow, I'm not cringing at the sight of the Jenni character. Could be because she's genuine to the plot instead of gratuitous extra.

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  10. She certainly is germane to the plot. Though why she loves Rads' LONG hair beats me! ;-)

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  11. I just have to watch this. The only question is when?
    I have always loved Bharati Achrekar. I remember her from Marathi plays on Bombay DD

    Thanks for the review and recommendation

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  12. harvey, its a pretty short film (less than 2 hrs). So it wont use up a lot of your time. AND its free online, so you can watch it at your convenience and in small doses, too, if you wish. DO give it a try - I'd love to know what you think.

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  13. You convinced me, but somehow I can't download it or watch it online.
    Something is just not working.
    have to try it someday again!

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  14. Thats too bad! It seems to work perfectly well, here. The download option is not free, but streaming video is. Perhaps its not for free viewing in your part of the world? Or your computer is blocking it?

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  15. I just found your blog and I love your hilarious captions for movie stills! But I was reading the comments above and I was a little disheartened to see the use of "ABCD" as an appropriate description of American (or Western) born desis. Most of us find "ABCD" a derogatory term - I am hardly confused about my cultures, both American and South Asian!

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  16. Saira, frankly I dont like to be referred to as a desi, either - its hardly a complimentary term! (In case you dont know - a desi is usually a country bumpkin or an uncouth person.) But some words just seem to have become part of everyday vocabulary and ABCD seems one of them. I did NOT mean it in a derogatory fashion - just as I do not wish to look down upon my beloved Hindi masala films by calling them "Bollywood"!

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  17. Loved this movie very much......am goin to download it soon.......am craving to watch it again...

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