US critics bitten by Luck By Chance

Feb 3, 2009 Arun Kumar

Washington, Feb 3 (IANS) The success of Mumbai-set "Slumdog Millionaire" seems to be opening the eyes of American movie critics to films set in India going by the rave reviews for Zoya Akhtar's "Luck By Chance".

To the Los Angeles Times, the simultaneous release of 'Luck by Chance' in India, the US, Canada, Britain and elsewhere "seemed charged with an unusual excitement", while New York Times believes Akhtar "shows herself to be a master of extremes".

"A fabulous circus-theme musical number pulls out all the stops, but a scene in which an acting teacher explains why Hindi stars have to be more talented than those in Hollywood is a subtle comic gem," said New York Times' Neil Genzlinger.

To the Los Angeles Times' Mark Olsen, Akhtar displays assured storytelling skills in a film about chasing fame in India's movie industry.

Comparing the film to "Slumdog Millionaire," Olsen said the film actually bears a stronger resemblance to another Oscar contender, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button".

"Both films are willing to face storytelling clichés head-on and refashion them not by winking irony, but with a clear-eyed sincerity matched by a skilful knowingness of when to ease off just enough to keep things from toppling into inanity," he said.

"Imagine 'A Star Is Born' if Judy Garland's character had been devious, manipulative and ruthlessly ambitious," said the Film Journal critic.

"Then add insightful satire, wryly funny dialogue, a dollop of drama, and one knockout musical number that plays like Cirque du Soleil on speed, and you've got this latest entry from the mainstream Indian fantasy factory called Bollywood.

"Most of the musical numbers play under montages, but there is one full-out, film-within-a-film full production: the joyous 'Baawre', the aforesaid circus-set number that's worth the price of admission alone. OK, that's hyperbolic. But it is a ravishing cornucopia of colour, sounds, shapes and sizes, as dazzling as the movie is down-to-earth."

Movie website said "poised somewhere between art movie and mainstream feature," Akhtar's "satirical skewering of the ugly realities behind celluloid dreams breaks no new ground".

"But it's a sharp, sly variation on the theme, starting with the bittersweet opening montage that pays tribute to all those nameless, faceless drones who keep the machinery humming," it added.

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Luck By Chance


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