Rom-coms are all about the journey and not the destination, so they say. If that’s true, then mark My Bollywood Bride down as a trip in an overheated vehicle, with terrible scenery outside and fellow passengers you’d kill yourself to be away from.
The boy-meets-girl plot sees Sex and the City’s Jason Lewis as a writer who meets an Indian babe (Kashmira Shah) in California, and then woos her, unaware that she’s a big Bollywood star. Until, that is, he heads off to India to see her again, and immediately cops an eyeful of her smiling down at him from a big advertising hoarding at the roadside.
My Bollywood Bride scores some points because it is, unbelievably, a true story, though the real life Lewis was in fact an investment banker called Brad Listermann. And once Listermann had wooed and wed (is that a spoiler?) his lady, he wrote a script about the whole thing, then became a film producer to get his story on screen. And then cast his wife as the female lead.
This is either extreme resourcefulness or hideous self-regard. I tend towards seeing it as the latter, largely because I found Lewis and co-star Shah such a repellent couple, the film only springing into life when it dealt with the subplot of the up-and-coming Bollywood star who’s starting to believe his own publicity too much, and the smalltown girl he dumped to grab his shot at fame. Though they’re clearly the B team comedy support, Sanjay Suri and Neha Dubey remind us what fresh, charming and attractive people look like, and actors who can read a leaden script with a certain flair, who can interact believably.
Far less successful are the song and dance interludes, the opening number New Freaking Bollywood having a fingernails-on-the-blackboard insistence that speaks of the cultural cringe.
At least My Bollywood Bride stays in Mumbai once it gets there. Crossover Bollywood usually contrives to shift the action to the US at the earliest opportunity, with “back home” often relegated to split-screen telephone-call intrusion. This, alongside Suri and Dubey, as well as well as the peeks the film gives into the Bollywood production process, gives the film some claim to watchability. Some, I said. For the most part, though, too often the whole thing comes across like a Bollywood movie that’s had a big lumbering blond oaf injected into it.
© Steve Morrissey 2006