Film: “UnIndian”; Director: Anupam Sharma; Cast: Brett Lee, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Maya Sathi, Supriya Pathak Kapur, Akash Khurana, Arka Das, Sarah Roberts, Nicholas Brown, Gulshan Grover; Rating: **1/2
The title, used as an adjective, aptly describes the protagonist’s behaviour in this formulaic, romantic comedy, set in the Indian diaspora of Sydney.
The narrative shuttles between portraying, “Indian culture,” how it is perceived and practised and the power of “ICN”- Indian Community Network around the globe.
It is a firang – “White” boy meets desi – “Indian” girl story. The tale revolves around Meera Chandra (Tannishtha Chatterjee) a marketing Manager at Cochlear – an ear implant manufacturer and a single parent to her daughter Smita.
Meera’s parents essayed by Supriya Pathak Kapur and Akash Khurana are keen that she remarries. So with the help of the boisterous, country-aunt Shanti, they manage to “fix” boys for her.
Meanwhile Meera catches the fancy of an “Aussie-English” teacher Will (Brett Lee), who happens to meet her at a cultural function. He woos her only to be dissuaded, “You don’t understand our culture, our relationships and us.”
But, nothing stops Will from unplugging all the stops and Meera adhering to all things, “UnIndian”. Thereby shocking her very “Indian,” parents.
The premise of this film, may be new in the Australian context, but many cross-over films right from Monsoon Wedding, have had a similar flavour and essence.
Writer Thusha Sathi’s plot is lazily drafted, clichA¿d and poppadum-thin, with one dimensional and stereo-typical characters, some of which are half-baked and are later lost in the narrative. But, the narrative, with a range of accents and insights, is nonetheless, engaging and entertaining.
The exposition is clunky with verbose dialogues that are conversational and have a universal appeal about the diaspora. It laments about, “caught in the maze of not being, Australian enough for Australia and not being Indian anymore for India.
Humour comes in the form or dialogues that are enhanced in translation. You chuckle, when you hear, Will excuse himself in an auditorium saying, “Maine kuccha nahin pehena.” The second time round, he repeats the blunder when he meets Meera’s parents the very first time, the dialogue though unwarranted, is a laugh riot.
On the performance front, fast bowler Brett Lee is a pleasant surprise. He portrays Will with the natural flair of an actor. He endears you by being transparent with his emotions.
Tannishtha as Meera is equally forceful with her subtle yet finely nuanced performance. Supriya Pathak is stereotypical. She plays her part with elan, but you wish she had more screen time. Her scenes are more rib-tickling than nagging.
Gulshan Grover an actor of stature, as Meera’s ex-husband Deepak, is incongruous. He decidedly sleep walks through a well-etched role. Similarly, Akash Khurana is disappointing as Meera’s father. He ruins the only scene where he could shine as an actor. Both actors, either, did not put their hearts into the role or probably the director was too dismissive about their characters.
The young Maya Sathi in her maiden role as Smita is charming. Pallavi Sharda in a supporting role as Will’s student Shanti, Arka Das as Will’s roommate and friend DK and Nicholas Brown as Dr. Sameer, have their screen moments.
With fairly moderate production values, the film is glossy and upbeat. The aerial shots of the city are well-captured.
The song with the lyrics, “Come fall in love with Sydney,” is jarring and seems forced in the narrative.
Overall, “UnIndian” is a frothy film, worth a watch to encourage Brett Lee.