It’s a bit of a lighthearted pick for me this month, as I chose to watch Deepa Mehta’s 2002 Indo-Canadian romantic comedy Bollywood/Hollywood. Rahul Seth (Rahul Khanna) is a rich Indian man in Toronto, who is essentially blackmailed by his family to find an Indian girl to marry, or else his younger sister Twinky (Rishma Malik) can’t go through with her marriage. Still reeling from sudden death of his white pop star girlfriend Kimberly (Jessica Paré), Rahul decides to hire Sue (Lisa Ray), as escort he meets in a bar, to pretend to be his fiance. However, what begins as a ruse quickly turns real, as Rahul and Sue begin to fall for each other. However, Rahul is afraid that Sue’s past as an escort would same his family if they found out.
Indian born, Toronto based filmmaker Deepa Mehta has made her mark on the Canadian film industry with her films that often feature a fusion of Indo-Canadian. After gaining attention with the first two chapters of her Elements Trilogy (1996’s Fire and 1998’s Earth), Deepa Mehta released this romantic comedy, which essentially combined both Hollywood and Bollywood love stories.
At the start Bollywood/Hollywood, lead protagonist Rahul Seth is in a happy relationship with white pop star Kimberly, despite the fact that she is heavily quizzed by Rahul’s family. However, while on a trip to Los Angeles, Kimberly ends up dying in a freak accident. Desperate for him to get married, Rahul’s family gives him an ultimatum that he must find an Indian fiance or else his sister Twinky will not be able to go through her rushed marriage. After meeting Sue, who he initially believes is Spanish, Rahul decides to pay her to pretend to be his fiance. However, real sparks soon to fly, as Rahul and Sue seem to be living in a Bollywood romance.
For all intents an purposes, Bollywood/Hollywood is a Bollywood-style film that just happens to be set in Toronto. However, there are seems to be a tongue-in-cheek tone to the film, especially as titles appear on the screen to comment on the current scene. While the film for the most part is in English, Bollywood/Hollywood does switch to Hindi for the musical numbers, save for the opening number sung by Jessica Paré. It is interesting that there was no subtitles for the song lyrics, even though the choreography more than made up for that.
Bollywood/Hollywood was Deepa Mehta’s first collaboration with Indo-Canadian actress Lisa Ray, with the two later reuniting with each other for 2005’s Water, the conclusion of the Elements Trilogy, which resulted in Deepa Mehta receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. That film is definitely a blindspot for future viewing.
I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of Bollywood films. However, I do have to say that Bollywood/Hollywood is fine for what it is.