Loins of Punjab



CHENNAI, India -- "Loins of Punjab Presents" is an honest and amusing though somewhat shoddily produce look at expatiate Indians in America. It gushes witty, one-liners and there is no background musical score that is often so intrusive in Indian cinema, nudging, nay pushing, a viewer into a mood the director sets. And for his first movie, helmer Manish Acharya -- who also plays the part of Vikram Tejwani, whose job is about to be outsourced to India -- shows restraint in steering clear of the obsession among international Indian moviemakers for stereotyping desi -- or first generation immigrant -- characters.

Despite its humor, which at times is bawdy, the film may not score with commercial audiences seeking as a matter of habit Bollywood formulas, but it can get into festivals thanks to the well cast actors and careful characterizations.

During a music competition sponsored by a big pork manufacturer in the U.S. called Loins of Punjab, a motley group of contestants parks itself in a New Jersey hotel. Among them is Rita Kapoor (Shabana Azmi), a social butterfly who controls judges and contenders through sexual or other favors. While she takes one of the judges for a romp, she tempts a couple of participants with lucrative assignments in return for them quitting the contest.

Young Preeti Patel (Ishitta Sharma) -- in tow with her entire family bent on seeing her win the huge prize money of $25,000 -- plays tough, not easily swallowing Kapoor's bait of a fabulous modeling offer. Meanwhile, Kapoor does get Bollywood aspirant Sania Rehman (Seema Rahmani) disqualified on a flimsy ground.

Even the smallest parts have been diligently written by Acharya and Anuvab Patel, capturing the finer nuances of each. These include the gay Sikh participant, Turbanotorious B.D.G. (Ajay Naidu), a bundle of aggression; Opama Menon (Ayesha Dharker), whose American boyfriend, Josh Cohen (Michael Raimondi), is the only foreign competitor in the group and places ambition ahead of relationship; and Sharma's Patel, caught between her own dream and parental shove.

However, the movie leaves one with a sneaking suspicion that Acharya was more than a little inspired by "Little Miss Sunshine."

Horn OK Please Entertainment
Director/producer: Manish Acharya
Writers: Manish Acharya, Anuvab Pal
Director of photography: Arvind Kannabiran
Production designer: Ayesha Punvani
Music: Michael Cohen
Costume designer: Rabiah Troncelliti
Editor: Christopher Dillon
Rita Kapoor: Shabana Azmi
Vikram Tejwani: Manish Acharya
Opama Menon: Ayesha Dharker
Sania Rehman: Seema Rahmani
Preeti Patel: Ishitta Sharma
Josh Cohen: Michael Raimondi
Turbanotorious B.D.G.: Ajay Naidu
Running time -- 88 minutes
No MPAA rating