Yes, it is the Loins and not Lions. In fact, Loins of Punjab is actually a meat shop in New Jersey that decides to host a singing competition – “Desi American Idol” as it is named (think “Sa Re Ga Ma Pa” meets “Indian Idol”). The gala brings an array of singers to participate and fight for the grand prize of $25,000. Loins of Punjab Presents, to a certain extent, is a mockery of reality singing shows, where corrupt competition is a facet to ensuring the popularity of the show. The audience witnesses bribery, back stabbing and destruction of the participants’ beliefs in a humorous fashion. The movie’s USP lies in its unique and diverse casting which is filled with actors of all calibers.
Starting at the top, actor-director-writer Manish Acharya wisely casted veteran actress Shabana Azmi to play the seductive, rich-socialite Rrita Kapoor who shines on screen when she smiles and croons away at ‘Chura liya hai tumne’. She is wholly in the contest to gain publicity and in pure celebrity manner vows to give her winnings to charity.
Then we are introduced to Bollywood fanatic Sania Rahman, played by Seema Rahmani, who enacts a wannabe Bollywood actress. The irony with Ms. Rahman and her keen desire to make it big in the industry is limited by the fact that she cannot speak a word of Hindi.
Preeti Patel (Ishitta Sharma) is the daughter of the prestigious and renowned Patel family. The Patel’s are known for their miser ways, and they would rather see their 17-year old marry instead of sing. But when it comes to their daughter, Mr. Patel (Darshan Jariwala) will go to any extent to ensure that his daughter wins even if he has to pay the judges a few bucks under the table.
Josh Cohen (Michael Raimondi) is in love with Opama Menon (Ayesha Darkar) and to prove his true love to his Indian girlfriend he decides to be a participant on the show. Throughout the movie, he turns around to see if Menon is embarrassed by his presence at an Asian music competition. Cohen tries his utmost hardest to prove his love and singing talents by grabbing the microphone to sing one of the two songs he knows: The Indian National Anthem and ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushik Jeena Yahan’ from the evergreen movie Pyasa.
The director of the movie, Acharya, also takes a poke at himself (and his singing) by playing Vikram Tejwani, whose job has been shipped to India thanks to outsourcing. Ajay Naidu plays a foul mouthed rapper by the name of Turbanotorious, providing the maximum amount of humor in the film. Oh and additionally, he is also gay. Last but not the least, there is Mr. Bokade (Jameel Khan) who is the event-manager and host of the show.
The movie has no real plot except that it looks at the thinking behind typical and stereotypical ways that Desi’s think and behave. The Patel’s being portrayed as stashers and the contestants realizing that Cohen is not Desi and shouldn’t be allowed to participate are just a few eccentric examples that are seen in this particular genre. Acharya takes a used formula of Indian’s abroad, which has been seen before, and puts them in some comical and unique situations which will tickle your funny bone. Even if the screenplay is half-baked, each character has been clearly defined and the actors have shown reality in their roles.
No one actor in the film overacts or does not stand out. If Azmi gives a powerhouse performance as usual by enacting a fame-crazed socialite, then Naidu as the rapper who juts out soiled words in every other word was spot on. Some defining moments occur when Cohen sings the national anthem with such eloquence and grace putting the rest of the contestants to shame and when Preeti speaks merely four sentences throughout the movie but is able to act through her expressions and fabulous body language.
The movie will remind you of other American Desi movies in the past but keeping with the latest trend of low budget movies generating the most revenue, this one is a sure winner. It will keep you interested and giggling until the end. Kudos to Acharya who managed to take a simple idea, such as a reality show, and make it into a full fledged movie.
Watch out for this one at your local theatre. Take your family and friends because this one is a complete paisa vasool!