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Bollywood/Hollywood

Different Wood, Same Tree

About.com Rating 1.5 Star Rating

By Jürgen Fauth

Lisa Ray in

Lisa Ray in "Bollywood/Hollywood"

"Bollywood/Hollywood" promises a knowing masala of Hollywood conventions, Bollywood-style melodrama, and a winking parody of both. Set in Toronto, the film tells the story of a handsome millionaire (Rahul Khanna) who struggles to replace his fiancée with an Indian woman to please his family. When he meets Sue (Lisa Ray), a comedy of mistaken identity ensues.

Director Deepa Mehta is clearly trying her hand at knowing irony in "Bollywood/Hollywood": occasionally, helpful subtitles appear to inform us of Bollywood convention or to say things like "Please to bliss the happy couple." Every TV or movie screen in the film shows a classic Bollywood movie, and the proceedings are interspersed with low budget song-and-dance numbers.

But all the self-reflexiveness can't keep the film from settling quickly into the very familiar territory of a rote American romantic comedy: boy and girl meet cute and fall in love, false identities are assumed, a problematic truth emerges with temporarily catastrophic consequences, and in the end, all is forgiven and love carries the day. Surely, a big fat Hindi wedding can't be far behind.

While "Bollywood/Hollywood" is not without its charming moments, the collision of conventions Deepa Mehta is after proves to be decidedly unsurprising. As somebody points out in the film: "Different wood, same tree." Comedy thrives on mismatches, but the combination of American and Hindi storylines yields precious little traction: they are too similar to begin with, and we're left with just another formula romantic comedy.

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