Bollywood Hollywood

Writer/director Deepa Mehta ("Earth," "Fire" and "Water") has become someone whose work I watch for. This 2002 DVD from the city library is SUCH fun! It takes place in Canada and beautifully illustrates traditional, generational, and cultural conflicts in what I liken to a Bollywood version of "Pretty Woman."

Rahul Khanna (a Bollywood star in his own right) is the wealthy scion of an Indian family located in Toronto. His father has died and left him with a sister, mother, and grandmother to shelter. The sister desperately wants to get married right away, the mother has made a career out of being the grieving widow, and the grandmother has a Shakespeare quote for every occasion. Both our hero and his sister are contemporary Canadians who speak flawless English laced with current slang.

To the horror of his family, he intends to marry a non-Indian, but that plan soon falls through. His mother refuses to allow her daughter to marry until her son finds a Hindu bride. He is in a major quandary until he meets a working girl in a bar. He assumes she is Hispanic, but thinks she could pass for Indian, so they quickly strike a deal and go to work on the charade. They have only to act engaged until after the sister's wedding.

Our Pretty Woman is played by the lovely Lisa Ray ("Toronto Stories" and "Water") who insists that she can figure out a way to defy her deeply traditional parents and find her own way in the world...even though she still lives at home... Hmmm....

Of course, this is Bollywood, so expect some musical numbers with clever choreography, attractive people and lots of humor. I particularly enjoyed watching this from a personal viewpoint because the handsome young actor playing the lead looks so much like my housemate Maneesh, who rented a room from me for years and remains a good friend to this day.

This is lots of fun!