Movie review: Basmati Blues

05 Apr 2018 / 12:21 H.

THIS film was made in 2013, way before Brie Larson starred in Room, the movie that not only provided a turning point in her career but also won her an Academy Award for best actress.
Since then, Larson was featured in big-budget film Kong and has been cast as the lead in Captain Marvel.

Larson got lucky, because if Basmati Blues was released as scheduled, it might have torpedoed her career.
The movie is not only one of those stereotypical films about India, but also one of those ‘white saviour comes to rescue Third World village’ type of films.
Take away the singing (mostly in English featuring Larson), scenes ripped from Bollywood flicks such as Larson riding a white horse to get through a human barricade a la Amitabh Bachchan, and a plot that has been rehashed so many times – and this might have been a somewhat decent movie.
The story is about Linda Watt (Larson), a brilliant young scientist who is sent to India by her boss, Mogil Corporation’s CEO Gurgon (Donald Sutherland), to sell ‘Rice 9’, a genetically-modified rice she’s created with her father (Scott Bakula).
The previous company representative got embroiled in a scandal and Gurgon felt the more likeable Linda will get the natives to embrace their product better.
When she arrives in India, she finds herself courted by two young men – the ambitious executive William Patel (Saahil Sehgal) who works for the Agricultural Ministry and Rajit (Utkarsh Ambudkar), a college student who is forced to drop out due to lack of funds.
Rajit, being the son of a rice farmer, is initially suspicious of Linda and Rice 9, but she being a fair-skinned maiden, bowls him over with her wide-eyed wonder and beauty.
When William discovers that farmers who sign the contract with Mogil for Rice 9 will eventually lose their farms, Gurgon makes him a lucrative offer (after some singing and dancing) to cover it up.
In true Bollywood fashion, the hero gets framed for a crime he did not commit, and has big misunderstanding with the angry heroine, but everything is made right in the end.
Larson, to her credit, tries to rise above the script, while Sutherland, Bakula and Tyne Daly, who plays Gurgon’s right-hand woman, all seem to breeze through as though they are on a paid holiday.
Go watch it only if you like campy flicks.

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