Live From SXSW's Screening Room
BOLLYWOOD/HOLLYWOODD: Deepa Mehta; with Rahul Khanna, Lisa Ray, Moushumi Chatterjee, Dina Pathak, Kulbhushan Kharbanda.
Narrative Feature Special Screenings, Regional Premiere
At first glance, having Deepa Mehta direct this frothy romantic comedy makes as much sense as it would to have Al Maysles shoot jackass. After all, Mehta's poignant explorations of lesbian love (Fire) and interreligious violence (Earth) were so controversial in India that the cinema where Fire debuted was burned to the ground by a right-wing mob. But Bollywood/Hollywood, in which a Toronto millionaire responds to family pressure to find a nice Indian girl by paying an escort to pose as his fiancée, sparkles with a silliness that turns its wilted Pretty Woman premise into a farce of tinseltowns both East and West. The zaniness works in no small part due to fine comedic performances by the supporting players, particularly a histrionic Mummy ji (Chatterjee) and Shakespeare-quoting Grandma ji (Pathak). Best of all, though, is Mehta's ability to meld the Bollywood musical form with its North American context in a way that feels completely natural and unforced. Hooray for Hindi love songs! (Westgate, 3/14, 9:45pm)