Apu & Marge, with a Gay Twist
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 06/18/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The movie "First Daughter" flopped because "Chasing Liberty" already came before it. "Wong Foo" was deported because "Priscilla" came to this country first. Many have already noted that "Chicken Tikka" is nothing but "The Wedding Banquet", "Touch of Pink," and "Bend It Like Beckham" all over again. However, this is just an imitation of "The Simpsons" when Apu tried to avoid marrying Manjula by pretending that Marge was his wife and Bart and Lisa his children. Yes, Simpsons episodes air three years late in Britain, but the director surely must have seen that episode before ripping it off. Either that, or the world is filled with Indian men with white boyfriends not out to their families.
Speaking of boyfriends, Jimi and Jack have no chemistry together. Like "Will & Grace," male homosexuality can be discussed but not seen. This movie is very cowardly in this regard. Like in "The Adventures of Felix," a weak, speechless, feebly willed, gay man of color is the main character. These films do nothing to supply strong gay men of color with characters to whom they can relate. Britain has civil unions now, so technically this film could have ended with Jimi and Jack marrying but it doesn't have the guts to go there.
This film also makes white British and Indians look stupider than they could be. Everyone knows that traditional Indians have arranged marriages. How could the white lover be so shocked and upset that his lover's Indian parents made that arrangement? In the West, women don't get married without their consent, so how would the Indian family set up a wedding without first asking the white wife? Yes, the main Indian character is light-skinned, but there is no way Indians would think she could be half-Indian. This is just like Bart and Lisa never being able to be mistaken as biracial. The white potential wife is horrified by Indian hand makeup, but Madonna appropriated it and most Westerners find it pretty. What was she thinking?
Look everybody, this theme has been beat to the ground already! Let's move on!"
Being True to Yourself
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/12/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"For those expecting the cover art and story outline to indicate another entertaining Bollywood Indian production, beware: no musical dance numbers or songs of production value exist to brighten the mood in this rather tired story of arranged marriages in the British Indian culture - with a few variations thrown in. As written by Roopesh Parekh the script jumps around topics worthy of discussion only to cover them up with routine avoidance tactics. Harmage Singh Kalirai directs like a traffic cop, trying to hold together the disparate subplots to the point of Keystone Cop tactics.
Jimi (Chris Bisson) is a medical school student who is gay and has a lover Jack (Peter Ash) and they live with Jack's obese, alcoholic, loose morals aunt Vanessa (Sally Bankes) and Sally's chubby daughter Hannah (Katy Clayton). Jimi's family is visited by the Patel family from Delhi who bring their beautiful daughter Simran (Jinder Mahal) to England to find a husband. Jimi's parents (Saeed Jaffrey and Jamila Massey) and his grandmother (Zohra Sehgal) decide Simran is the girl for Jimi to marry and arrange an engagement and wedding in the custom of Indian ways - without consulting Jimi. Jimi discovers the plot and is too spineless not to go along with it, a decision which enrages Jack and infuriates Vanessa. Hannah tells a 'little lie' to Simran (that she is Jimi's daughter) and the wedding is off. When Jimi's parents visit Jimi's house they discover the drunken Vanessa, are repulsed by her, but eventually decide that for Jimi's happiness they will go along with the fact that Vanessa has given them a 'granddaughter' and decide to use the marriage preparations as a wedding for Jimi and Vanessa. Jimi convinces the very reluctant Vanessa to go along with the idea and before long Vanessa is dressed in a sari, prepared for a wedding, and Jimi, terrified at what he is doing just to please his parents, includes Jack as his best man. At the wedding the truth comes out and to Jimi's surprise his family adapts to Jimi's true self and the day is saved by simply being truthful.
The cast copes with this silly bit of nonsense rather well and there are some good performances: Chris Bisson and Peter Ash are attractive men and play their roles well, albeit without any indication at all of a loving relationship (the director seems terrified of showing the least suggestion of intimacy between the two men); Sally Bankes provides most of the laughs as Vanessa; the rest of the cast repeat the stereotype roles they've played countless times in Indian movies. This is not a bad film - it has its moments - but it is just too superficial and tired to make us care about any of the characters. Grady Harp, August 06