Loins of Punjab Presents: Exclusive

Originally Posted on Passion For Cinema.

Wacky but rational. That’s what Loins of Punjab Presents (LOPP) is. Profanity mouthing bhangra turbunators, a conservative gujju beauty dreaming of Italian ramp success, kitty party revenge schemes, a geek finally having a beautiful girlfriend in the third dimension – the number of paradox’s in this film will leave you amused and stumped. And then you have the mystery of the Pork Loins.

Winner of the best film at the First Run Film Festival at NYU, this graduation and debut film of Manish Acharya is right there with the best of the NextGen/satirical cinema made by “Desi’s” in the US. For a while we have been having films that deal so much with identity of Indian’s here in a foreign land and about the humor they bring in to everyday life with their mannerisms, LOPP goes ahead with maturity to bring out the reality in most of the resident population here.

Set to the backdrop of a game show on the lines of American Idol, this film shot between New Jersey and Mumbai couldn’t have come out at a better time when the whole Sanjaya craze has caught the fancy of the entire Indian Diaspora and at a time when the term ‘Desi’ is as frequently used back home as it is in the US. ‘Desi Idol’ as the game is called is set to happen over a weekend in New Jersey which is sponsored by a large pork loins selling company managed by a second generation desi.

The characters used to tell the happenings of the game show are a stand out in themselves as all of them have a reason to be there and have a motive to win the contest. The contestants are a mix of bollywood wannabe’s to arrogant socialites, gay rapper’s to nerdy accountants, conservative southie’s to age defying I-want-my-day-in-the-sun stereotypes.

The cast, a combination of professional NY actors to first time NJ residents – mainstream Indian cinema artists – to the overly shy director, an ensemble that will leave you in splits for the better part of the movie. Ajay Naidu leads the NY team playing the role of turbanotorious B.D.G., a rapper in search of spotlight. Have seen him in the Isaac and Ishmael episode of West Wing and he is fabulous. Samrat Chakrabarti as Trance Sen, Ishitta Sharma as Preeti Patel and the very own Shabana Azmi as the desi version of P3 socialite, Rrita Kapoor add the personalities needed to weave a tale around the prejudices and fallacies when chasing fame and success.

But the best part of the movie lies in two small packages – Jameel Khan playing the role of Mr. Bokade, the event manager for the entire contest and the Pork Loins itself. If you thought you have seen it all and that you think that we have no more downright humorous guys around, thank Manish for writing Mr. Bokade. This character is enough to take the movie to a different orbit altogether.

The film however has its own limitations depending upon what type of a moviegoer you are. The entire initial part of the film throws random pointers at you about certain instances which after the first few will make you realize that they will be used to solve the puzzle in the end, but discount them; you have a script that is smooth and flawless. The story stems from a reason, moves quickly and finishes before your mind wanders. Manish, being a first time director definitely answers some of the questions that rise whenever a product of a film school graduate comes up, as he makes use of his experience of more than 25 other graduate school films to conclusively streamline his story.

The reason why LOPP works is because Manish has told a story which is so close to being a masala film but when you feel that it is going on the beaten track, it adds that much needed sensibility and courage, and adds a realistic poise to the story which at first may seem a little too hard to digest but probably after the initial feeling of euphoria sinks, will make the viewer go – why not?

As Manish put it himself, he’s made the film. The easy part is done. Now he has the challenging task at hand to make this film into a movie, sell it to the distributors, woo the audience and gain confidence to come back and make more films. Here’s wishing him all the best from the entire PFC team.

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