Cast: Om Puri, Pat Cusick, Navin Nischol, Perizaad Zorabian
Nagesh Kukunoor's 'Bollywood Calling' offers an irreverent glimpse into the chaotic art of cinema making in India. His hilarious take on the largest Film Industry in the world has it all… bungling film directors coaxing and cajoling stars, bodacious babes in revealing outfits, an aging hero hanging on both to his fast fading youth and his toupee and as a refreshing new angle, an American actor trying out his luck in Indian films!
Kukunoor, director of the wildly popular film, Hyderabad Blues and Rockford allegedly made this flick in 34 days flat. It shows, as shots are shoddy and the film is lacking in technical finesse or expert photography. Much of that is forgiven as one applauds any spoof that comes from our film industry, I wish Nagesh would spoof Laggan, that overrated melodrama that is making its way to the Oscar function this year.
There is an endearing interface between two diametrically opposite worlds in Bollywood Calling as down on his luck Pat Cusick, a Hollywood B-grade actor is roped in to act in Maut-the Death, a Bollywood pot boiler as the long lost brother of aging super star Manu Kapoor ( Nishchal). After the initial shock the American hero is comfortable prancing around trees in blue satin pants, bright yellow shirts a wide red cummerband. The film meanders sometimes, there is a message somewhere , it goes unnoticed till the somewhat satisfying resolution.
One unforgettable scene goes thus , "Please, you have to be more vulgar …".The film's director, Subra( short for Subramniam, played flawlessly by Om Puri) urges an extra who has to tease the hapless heroine in a scene . Another hilarious one is where film extras roll huge plastic balls into the field where the two heroes frolic with their beaus and the director yells." Baalls, baalls, I want more baalls".
There are improbable fight scenes where the heroes beat up the baddies , blood and gore flow as Subra nears completion of the film ,despite the lack of a script or any shred of discipline. Here is an obvious misconception, the film is based in Hyderabad and most characters are obviously Telugu. The Andhra film industry has the reputation of being among the most conscientious and punctilious among all others in India.
Navin Nischal as the aging super star with the massive ego and a prophetic knowledge of the workings of the filmi world turns in a fine performance. Perizaad Zorabian as the social climbing starlet, Kaajal, is promising, though her character is a little over the top as the wise know-it- all Bollywood bimbette with a brain. Pat Cusik, battling alcoholism and a debilitating disease is vacant and vague…just what the doctor ordered for the role he plays. Its great to hear him holler the cliched bollywood lines "Kuthey, main tujhe zindaa nahi chhodoonga," and "Main tera khoon pee jaaoonga," etc in his American accent. Never has a two bhais-ek-daaku-ek-police tale been told with so much elan. Intermittently likeable and often cheesy and irritating this film is not without flaws. Enjoyable nonetheless.
Watch, laugh, have a good time!
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