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My Bollywood Bride

A familiar relationship comedy with an Indian twist, "My Bollywood Bride" revisits the age-old romantic formula: Boy meets, loses, and hopes to find girl. In this case, he's a hunky blond Californian (Jason Lewis); she's India's top movie star (Kashmera Shah). With Shah well known in India and Lewis popular with "Sex and the City" fans, this upbeat item features enough marketable elements to lure the specialized distributor ready to exploit them.

With:
Reena - Kashmera Shah Alex - Jason Lewis Shekhar - Gulshan Grover Bobby - Sanjay Suri Alisha - Neha Dubey

A familiar relationship comedy with an Indian twist, “My Bollywood Bride” revisits the age-old romantic formula: Boy meets, loses, and hopes to find girl. In this case, he’s a hunky blond Californian (Jason Lewis); she’s India’s top movie star (Kashmera Shah). With Shah well known in India and Lewis popular with “Sex and the City” fans, this upbeat item features enough marketable elements to lure the specialized distributor ready to exploit them.

That said, the film’s most marketable asset is, in a way, also its biggest liability. The chiseled Lewis, so memorable on the HBO skein as Samantha’s sympathetic, younger b.f. Smith, clearly needs to hone his acting chops if he’s to carry more pictures successfully. Lewis has no problem being adorable, but he needs more range in order to be credible.

As the adventure novelist Alex, Lewis resorts to a lot of lower-lip biting to register his disappointment when his whirlwind romance with comely Indian tourist Reena (Shah) is suddenly and inexplicably cut short. After having spent several glorious days with Alex (in a Los Angeles that, thanks to John Drake’s lensing, has never looked more beautiful) Reena must return to India to look after her ailing father. She also must submit to an arranged marriage with the powerful, intimidating Bollywood producer Shekhar (Gulshan Grover), although she left her heart in California.

Desperate for an explanation at least, Alex heads for Mumbai, where, despite knowing only Reena’s fist name, he discovers her face on a billboard and tracks her to a film set. When he confronts her, she insists there are things he can’t understand concerning her background. Reena asks her close friend and fellow actor Bobby (Sanjay Suri) to look after Alex and keep him away from her nosy parents and possessive fiance. There are predictably entertaining moments involving Alex, Reena’s parents and Shekhar, and some fine screwball riffs when Reena tries to hide Alex in her hotel suite. At times, though, it feels as if the central conflict is overextended for the dramatic purpose of allowing a corny deus ex machina at the film’s climax. Nevertheless, this genial, spirited comedy has enough going for it to make it worth seeing.

Tech elements (especially Drake’s lensing) are fine, although the sound mix could have used a polish.

My Bollywood Bride

U.S. - India

Production: A Sequence Films/His Karma Prods./Dream Team Films production in association with Satorii Entertainment Private. Produced by Brad Listermann. Executive producers, Duncan Clark, Doug Falconer, Ashok Rao, Vivek Wadhwa. Co-executive producers, Daljit Bhuttar, Balwinder Bajaj. Directed by Rajeev Manoj Virani. Screenplay, Kashmera Shah, Brad Listermann, Richard Martini; story, Listermann.

Crew: Camera (color), John Drake; editor, Michael Trent; music, Anu Malik; production designer, Annie Sukeshwala; art director, Tapan Roy; costume designers, Anshu Aurora, Vikram Phadris; sound (Dolby Digital), Listermann; associate producers, Ruchi Gupta, Harit Kapadia, Richard Martini; assistant director, Kristin Mente; casting, Julia Kim. Reviewed at Palm Springs Film Festival (special presentation), Jan. 14, 2006. Running time: 94 MIN. (English, Hindi dialogue)

With: Reena - Kashmera Shah Alex - Jason Lewis Shekhar - Gulshan Grover Bobby - Sanjay Suri Alisha - Neha Dubey

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