India, which claims to have the world's biggest film industry, produces about 800 features a year, even though audiences are largely confined to Indian communities around the world. The average Indian film is, by Western standards, a cliched combination of corny action sequences and clunky musical routines, hardly worth spoofing in a pic running two hours and 20 minutes.

India, which claims to have the world’s biggest film industry, produces about 800 features a year, even though audiences are largely confined to Indian communities around the world. The average Indian film is, by Western standards, a cliched combination of corny action sequences and clunky musical routines, hardly worth spoofing in a pic running two hours and 20 minutes. “Bollywood,” which sets out to do just that, quickly runs out of comic steam, and, despite being made in English, is unlikely to play outside Indian theaters.

Writer/producer/director/production designer B.J. Khan (mysteriously named Bikramjit “Blondie” Singh in the Toronto fest catalaog) sets out to parody something that’s beyond parody, and his evident delight at mocking the conventions of mainstream Indian cinema is at best modestly amusing. Result prompted significant walkouts at screening caught.

Based on a book, “Show Business,” by Shashi Tharoor, pic establishes a “serious” actor, Ashok, played in the Victor Mature tradition by Chunky Pandey, who decides to go for the money and become a movie star.

All too soon, Ashok is starring in the lavish actioner “Godambo,” opposite an aging femme star, and is currying favor with a sex-starved gossip columnist, who likes to interview up-and-coming male talent in her boudoir.

Ashok has a series of mistresses, his wife gives birth to triplets, he becomes involved in a political scandal, and he’s involved in an accident during some stunt riding. His story is fleshed out with overly generous samples of the dreadful films in which he appears, which are followed by titles explaining that , in the name of “stamina,” sub-plots and numerous songs have already been omitted. A lot more could have been left on the cutting room floor.

Thesping is suitably broad, with well-known actor Saeed Jaffrey slumming it as a self-styled guru. Production values are handsome, although a faulty camera lens seems to have been used in some scenes. Biggest drawback of version caught is the English soundtrack, which is not only inauthentic but often incomprehensible, sounding as if it was recorded at the bottom of a well.

Bollywood

Indian

Production

A Soni-Khan/Cine Creations production. Produced, directed, written by B.J. Khan, based on the book "Show Business" by Shashi Tharoor. Executive producers, John Tu, David Sun, Vimal Soni.

Crew

Camera (color), Jayvant Pathare; editor, Renu Saluja; music, Tushar Parte; lyrics, Tharoor; production design, Khan; co-producer, Rajinder Singh. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival, Sept. 16, 1994. Running time: 140 MIN.

With

Chunky Pandey, Saeed Jaffrey, Dipti Naval, Veena Bidasha, Meera Verma, Mukeshi Rishi, Tariq Yunus.
(English dialogue)
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more