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Spin Is The Blandest Depiction Of NRI’s La-la-Land




Starring Abhay Deol, Meera Sial, Avantika Vandanapu

Directed  by  Manjari Makijany

Rating: * ½

Besides the food  on the tables  of the restaurant named ‘Spirit Of India’ where most of this  vapid drama unfolds, the true spirit of India  is  abysmally absent from Spin , a clumsy spin on  the India-American experience  so contrived  and mawkish, it initially felt like  a caricature   of  the Indian experience in the US.

But no. These  people  mean serious business. So  meet Rhea(the very lovely  Avantika Vandanapu),a 15-going-on-40   troubled teenager with  a Mom who died young and a dad Arvind(Abhay Deol)  who is so consumed  by the  chutney  and  masala  of his restaurant   can’t see  what  his   daughter wants. Anupam Kher  in Bend  It Like Beckham  could give dad Deol a tip or two on parenting a  NRI  progeny who  doesn’t conform.

But hang on. There is  Rhea’s Naani, so feisty  that she gives the culture  of  feisty-ness  a badass name.Played by  the wonderful always  dependable Meera Syal  . Naani is  the strongest  contender  for the most  likeable character  in a film filled with insufferable stereotypes.

We are  to believe that  Rhea’s school  is  populated  by the  most liberal imps  and  fairies on  this side of Trump.There is  not a hint of racism in the  length and  breadth  of this  cuckooland  concoction.This only reinforces  the spirit  of   unreality that pervades  the  90 minute  drama,   so  sugary and  schmaltzy it leaves you a little queasy in the tummy,  like you do after eating too many doughnuts.

Which reminds me. Rhea’s class-teacher offers Rhea’s father a doughnut when she summons  him to complain  about Rhea. “Doughnut is good. But the jalebis in my restaurant are better,” says  Deol trying to keep a straight face.Thus begins a doughnut-jalebi romance between  Rhea’s  Indian  father and  her  Black American teacher.It doesn’t go anywhere.  But  hell, what does  in this pointless puerile potpourri  ?

 Spin is delirious  homage to the  spirit of  liberalism. The ‘Bollywood’ that the characters refer  to exists nowhere outside this  film. The music that Rhea is so fond of mixing(she wants to be a  deejay) sounds  like  the Pointer Sisters tinkering with the  tanpura in a state  of  drugged bliss.The feisty Naani dances in her restaurant  to  Asha  Bhosle’s Jab chaye mera jadoo.Which is as “Bollywood” as Nora Fatehi  playing an Indian spy in Bhuj. Naani also has Waheeda Rehman’s  poster on the restaurant wall  with the caption ‘Jab Chhaye’

I don’t recall  Waheeda Rehman, who played a  role in  the director Manjary  Makhijany’s  previous , superior  film Skater Girl  doing any film  called  Jab Chhaye. This  is the world of  the  NRIA—the Non Realistic Indian Abroad who  loves ‘Bollywood’ a  concept that exists  only his head.

It’s  a miracle that the actors in this film manage to  keep a straight face while all around them the world explodes into a kaleidoscope of corny colours. Rhea, we  are  to believe, is  such a talented musician that her  American class-friend  steals her ideas and  tries  to  beat her at a music  competition.

These silly Americans, I tell  you,  think they  own world. They  have  finally met their match.

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