Written by Anuvab Pal & Manish Acharya
Directed by Manish Acharya
Running Time: 1:28
Loins of Punjab Presents has nothing to do with Loins or Punjab for that matter, but is actually a very funny, very well made independent film.
The Loins of Punjab company (specializing in pigs) has the idea to run an American Idol-like show called... Desi Idol. The promoter they hire promises it will be the biggest thing ever to hit the Indian community. Contestants come from all walks of life. There's Preeti, the young girl who is completely overwhelmed and dominated by her family, but as the most beautiful voice of anyone. There's Rrita Kapoor, the elder statesman of the competition, who enters only to try and show up her best friend and best enemy. There's the rapper known as Turbanotorious B.D.G. who want to inject some hardcore gangster into the talent show, but has a couple of secrets of his own. There are many stories all leading towards the final showdown to see who will win and become your new Desi Idol!
I've seen many of these Indian-American indie films over the years. While some are good, most are pretty bad. So I went in to Loins of Punjab Presents without high hopes but I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised. While visually it wasn't the most striking film, and story-wise there were a few holes that needed to be filled, everything else was done very well. First off the acting was far superior to other similar films. Most of the time it feels like directors go out and get their friends or get the first people who walk in the door. This time co-writer/director/star Manish Acharya went out and got the best talent available. Having someone with the background of a Shabana Azmi was a huge get on his part and the rest of the cast filled in around her. Everyone had their specific roles to play (sometimes almost too specific) and they all did great.
The other problem with a lot of these films is the direction and editing are sloppy/choppy. But not in this film. While, like I said earlier, the look of the film felt washed out, even though I know it's supposed to be shot in documentary style, the direction and editing was on target. At no point did I feel like I was watching an amateur trying to shoot a movie. Every scene flowed nicely together and there were no jagged edges to the film. I know it sounds strange to say, but the movie felt very clean. But only visually... some of the stuff that was said was definitely not clean.
Which leads me to the next point. The movie was very well written. I wish that it was a little longer so we could have gotten to know some of the characters better but being thrown into the middle of a group of strangers was also kind of fun. And considering there were no flashbacks the writers did an amazing job of letting the audience know who these people were from their short bursts on screen. The movie was under an hour and a half yet I bet I could tell you the backstory of most of the major players rather easily. That being said, there were times when the characters story arcs felt extremely formulaic and at times the dialogue felt stilted. Two story arcs involved people leaving then coming back at the end in a 'surprise'.
However the plot was written well enough that it was nearly impossible to figure out who would actually end up winning. Would it be Preeti, obviously the most talented of the group? Would it be Rrita, who would do whatever she could to make sure she won? Maybe it would be the lone white entry, Josh Cohen, who may win the competition but lose his Indian girlfriend? Or what about Sania, the bombshell who may not have any idea what she's even singing? Each character was written so well that any of them could have one. And the eventual winner does so in a fashion that will make you stand up and hold your hand to your heart.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I was happily surprised by how much I enjoy Loins of Punjab Presents. In the midst of Hollywood releasing crappy films before the Oscar season starts, Loins of Punjab Presents is a good alternative and worth checking out.
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