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NBFF 2016 Review: UNindian

unindian 1Here’s an innocent enough romantic comedy that plays up a culture clash angle and mostly comes out on top. UNindian follows many of the tropes you’d expect, but brings in a Bollywood element that certainly helps to establish an identity for it. Familiar or not, the film is effective enough given the cast chemistry and features a display of Indian culture in Australia that I was unfamiliar with.

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Tannishtha Chatterjee stars as Meera, a single mother of Indian origin living in Sydney, Australia. Despite efforts from her parents, Meera eventually connects with Will (cricket star Brett Lee), a local teacher and all-around good guy. A series of events continue to bring these two together and Will is forced to deal with how to impress Meera, her daughter and the fact that he’s a fair-skinned man jumping into a whole new culture.

Anupam Sharma directs this story, which has a large focus on incorporating light elements of what you generally see in Bollywood features. UNindian flows much in the way you would expect for a traditional Hollywood rom-com, but does take the time to feature some elaborate montages, as well as wild genre shifts. There is also a big dance number at the end, which should be expected.

Fortunately, the film never pushes things too far. The likable cast, which is basically made up of Will and his friends and Meera and her family, do plenty to keep this thing moving. The film is a bit long, but that is the nature of Bollywood anyway. That’s not an excuse, as UNindian is not nearly complex enough to need so much padding, but it follows the traditions of its filmmaking style.

Tradition does play a huge role in this film, which made up a lot of what I admired about it. Some aspects such as marriage and relationship laws in India lead to some of the more baffling and overly broad aspects of the story, which goes for the acting in these cases as well, but other elements are clever or humorous. Addressing the way Indian society is its own social media network leads to some fun moments in the film, let alone the way it has certain characters play with their identities in relation to Will.

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I do wish the film had more of a focus on the core group of friends and perhaps put more emphasis in building up the parents a bit more. Will’s friends, such as TK (Arka Das), seem to drop in and out of the story, when their scenes were consistently fun. With the parents, it’s one thing to see them continually worrying about Meera’s future concerning whether or not she will meet a new husband, but providing them more dimension would have been a great benefit to the film as a whole.

There are also the things frequently seen in these kinds of films. Honestly, it was hilarious to see a dramatic airport scene take place, but there you have it. It doesn’t make the film bad, but you certainly should not be looking for complete innovation in terms of where the basic beats of the narrative take you. I also wish Sharma’s direction didn’t merely allow for a few stylish scenes, only to back away and keep everything else so traditional and flat.

Quibbles aside, UNindian is a simple, but fun little movie. As an American, I was intrigued by the Australian-Indian element, which is not merely a backdrop, but a big part of film. The performances are fine, with the leads working well together. Really, it hits the essential aspects in a manner that is well-meaning enough and enjoyable for those looking for something light.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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