American Blend Hindi Movie ReviewFeature Film
"American Blend", written-directed by Varun Khanna, is a family drama that focuses on the cultural explosion experienced by a part Indian-part American family living in Los Angeles.
The 100-minute music and dance celebration of a cross-cultural Indian-centric immigrant family provides the setting for a finely tuned ensemble drama in the big melting pot called the US.
The film is also a celebration of what can go right when culturally diverse families came together in redefining America.
Raj Chadha (Anupam Kher) is an Indian who runs a restaurant called Bollywood Café in Los Angeles. He is madly in love with his Caucasian American wife Jayme (Dee Wallace Stone).
But they have raised their children in a traditional Indian way. Raj has two children - Niki (Amita Balla) and BJ (Sunkrish Bala) - from his deceased first wife. Niki helps Raj and Jayme in running the café and BJ tries to pitch in too - whenever he can.
Jayme's daughter Maya (Kristin Erickson) lives with them and both mother and daughter share the passion for the classical Indian dance Kathak.
Mercury (David Oyelowo), BJ's best friend, is a British street tap dancer struggling to make it big. BJ helps Mercury get a job at Bollywood Café and very soon ... he is attracted to Maya.
Meanwhile, Maya is desperate to know her father's name which Raj and Jayme have kept under wraps. When this secret is revealed, it causes a rift between BJ and Maya and temporarily unsettles the lives of other family members.
The destiny of the family culminates in a wedding scene where everyone gets a chance to make things right again.
Though "American Blend" looks like a blend of "Bend It Like Beckham" and "Monsoon Wedding", it still remains engrossing. Thankfully, it doesn't have an overdose of American culture, Indian ethos or artificial communal unity. For a change, it concentrates on family bonding which is a rarity in cross-cultural cinema.
Shot entirely in Los Angeles, "American Blend" is interesting in parts, especially the tap dance-Kathak fusion scene.
The constant bickering between Raj's two chefs - Yogi (Ranjit Chaudhary) and Lupe (Ruben Garfias), a Mexican, adds spice to the drama.
The climax reminds the audience of "Monsoon Wedding" - it's a typical feel-good film interspersed with pop Punjabi music and ends with merry-making.
The rift in the family is well handled. The reference to Hindi songs on several occasions is also enjoyable. Khanna succeeds in extracting decent performances from the entire cast, especially first time actress Kristin Erickson. She etches out her role convincingly and delivers the right expressions.
Amita Balla's character reflects the exact nature of an Indian girl brought up in America.
"American Blend" comes at a time when the popularity of "Monsoon Wedding" and "Bend It Like Beckham" has faded. The film has chances of drawing a decent audience but a long run at the box office is ruled out.
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