An ethnic wedding forms the centerpiece for Raj Nidimoru and DK Krishna's romantic comedy about Indian immigrant couples in America. Scripters/helmers are computer whizzes, most of their pic's characters not only work in cyberspace, but seem to inhabit a world one virtual step from reality. Digitally shot pic seems ideally suited to the small screen. Likeable, credible actors, snappy dialogue and a determinedly upbeat tone should work well on cable and score with Indian diaspora auds.

An ethnic wedding forms the centerpiece for Raj Nidimoru and DK Krishna’s romantic comedy about Indian immigrant couples in America. Scripters/helmers are computer whizzes, most of their pic’s characters not only work in cyberspace, but seem to inhabit a world one virtual step from reality. Digitally shot pic seems ideally suited to the small screen. Likeable, credible actors, snappy dialogue and a determinedly upbeat tone should work well on cable and score with Indian diaspora auds. But pic lacks density and spontaneity necessary to lift it out of its carefully posed and plotted set-ups and onto a bigscreen.

Unlike “Monsoon Wedding,” nuptials here do not really bring people together. Rather, a cell phone rings at precisely the moment the minister asks if there’s anyone who knows why these two people should not be joined. That moment is reprised from the perspectives of various characters and serves as the kickoff point for their backstories.

The stories run concurrently, crossing casually from time to time, but interaction serves mainly to create a friendly circle of acquaintance where feelings are seldom allowed to run high.

Indeed, pleasant companionship is about as intense as it gets in this ice cream parlor of romance. Situations generally fraught with passion are handled at friendly remove. Thus the cross-cultural marriage between Indian immigrant Rad (Anupam Mittal, who also produced) and American WASP Jenni (Jicky Schnee) at the structural center of the film poses no problem for the couple.

Instead, Rad’s parents (veteran Bollywood actors Anjam Srivastava and Bharatic Achreker) must grapple with culture shock, negotiating a middle ground with their son’s blond-haired bride. But this, too, proves at worst worrisome and at best warmly rewarding.

The plight of an immigrant wife cut off from all contact with her new surroundings also gets the ultra-lite treatment. Sangita (Sireesha Katragadda) spends her lonely days locked in her upscale colonial house, rarely seeing her workaholic husband. Filmmakers defuse another potentially tragic tale when the hubby, in fact laid off weeks ago, discovers the joys of sharing the soaps and idleness with his wife.

The biggest chunk of screen time is granted to the bicoastal couple of Kartik (Reef Karim) and Racha (Pooja Kumar), whose cell phone call interrupts the wedding. The affectionately regarded electronic co-dependency of this duo (sharing a candlelight dinner via online ordering and hands-free cellular conversation) is typical of the arms-length distance accorded all the film’s romantic twosomes.

Filmmakers bring a certain ironic tone to the emotionally airbrushed relationships they depict, but lack the stylistic rigor to assign meaning to the glossy hyper-reality of their imagery. Pic transpires somewhere on the East Coast, in some generic suburbia, as featureless as every other aspect of pic.

Flavors

Production

A dreams2reality/MAUJ Entertainment production. Produced by Amupam Mittal, Raj Nidimoru, DK Krishna. Executive producers, Sita Menon, Siva Atturum Rambabu Gotur, Ramesh Kaika, Sudhaker Medboyina, Amit Mittal, Vinod Nair. Directed, written by Raj Nidimoru, DK Krishna. (English, Hindi dialogue)

Crew

Camera (color, DV), David Isern; editor, Frank Reynolds; music, Lezlie Lewis; production designer, Tusher Unadkat; sound designer, Scot Reynolds. Reviewed at New York Asian American Film Festival, June 29, 2003. Running time: 120 MIN.

With

Anjan Srivastava, Bharati Achreker, Reef Karim, Pooja Kumar, Jicky Schnee, Sireesha Katragadda, Guarang Vyas, Anupam Mittal.
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