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Upperstall Review


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Loins of Punjab Presents


English, Comedy, 2007, Color

The film is set over three days Friday-Sunday at a hotel in New Jersey Town that hosts a Bollywood singing contest to select a 'Desi Idol' with a grand prize of US $ 25,000. So enter the main contestants - a bitchy socialite who wants to show up her rival and donate the winnings to a fundraiser, a gay bhangra rapper, an over-protected Gujarati prodigy, a Bollywood aspiring actress who doesn't know Hindi, a data analyst about to be sacked and an American who loves everything Indian among the others - who come to battle it out.

Loins of Punjab Presents is entertaining enough, a light piece of fluff that tries to capitalize on the new found Western interest in all things Bollywood. The film begins energetically and wittily enough as the contest is announced and the various contestants introduced one by one. While the film is engaging enough to begin with with some extrelemy good one liners thrown in, the film soon begins to lose steam and energy as it proceeds to a limp climax. The screenplay is much too simplistic with most of the tracks too pat and predictable as it traces the events over 3 days - Friday where registrations take place, Saturday where auditions and first round of singing takes place and Sunday where the grand finale takes place.

Some of the tracks like the Gay Bhangra rapper are extremely interesting and could have been the highlight of the film but poor writing and lack of proper development do them in. Another track that simply does not work is that of the American elderly couple where the man seems to think everyone around is a terrorist. The finale of the singing contest is too lame and falls flat instead of being the high of the film. The end leaves you gobsmacked as to who becomes the Desi idol and how!

The film does have its good share of engaging one-liners and tongue-in-cheek moments that are genuinely funny like when Kunal Roy Kapoor drinks from the mug and we see the pigs face at the bottom of the cup or when the journalist asks Jameel Khan a convoluted question which he cannot comprehend and he asks her if she's from Kolkata. The kitschy elements of the Desi community are well-worked out and the stereotypical elements of the Desi community are used nicely to make you smile. The over protected Gujarati girl Preeti Patel's track has some nice surprises while the love story between the statistic obsessed computer programmer and the aspiring Bollywood actress though simple and predictable is cute and charming and works in its own way.

The film does capture some typical quirks and is not averse to laughing at ourselves and our peculiarities. The Gujju denies watching porn in the hotel and reasons that why should he pay $11.95 if he can get the same thing pirated for $4! It shows how we may be brown but we are racist in our little way towards the whites and blacks. The film also makes fun of the Americans and brings out the plight of the Muslims post 9/11 as a man called Saddam Hussain finds the going tough having being fired from his job and unable to find a new one. (We wonder why!)

The performance of the entire ensemble cast is energetic, engaging and makes the film work beyond its screenplay. Shabana Azmi is purrrfect as the catty numerology obsessed socialite Rrita Kapoor not averse to arm twisting tactics and getting other contestants to drop out so she could win. Isshita Sharma looks fresh and is spot on as the over protected Preeti who seems quiet and overawed by all around her but reveals a surprisingly strong independent streak to her. Ajay Naidu does what he can as the gay Bhangra rapper - his entry on stage post-interval is a hoot but as mentioned, this track is defeated by the script. Seema Rahmani and Manish Acharya make a nice enough romantic couple. Michael Raimondi and Ayesha Dharkar are adequate, their track making no high histrionic demand from them as are Darshan Jariwala and Lovleen Mishra as Preeti's parents. Jameel Khan is comparitively way over the top but does get his share of laughs.

Technically the film is so-so, nothing special. All in all, entertaining enough.

Upperstall review by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan

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