Loins of Punjab
Behind the scenes manuevering in Loins of Punjab (Emerging Pictures)
When I first saw the title for the new film opening at Reading Gaslamp, I thought it was Lion of Punjab . I think that was the filmmaker's intent, to have people misread the title, which is actually Loins of Punjab (opened November 7 exclusively at Reading Gaslamp) and refers to the name of a company run by a character who's a pork loin king.
Loins of Punjab marks the directing debut of Manish Acharya and it's designed as a Christopher Guest-like behind the scenes mockumentary. The object of ridicule here is a reality game show in the tradition of American Idol , with a side target being non-resident Indians. Set in New York and New jersey, the focal point of the story is the first ever Desi Idol , a Bollywood take on American Idol sponsored by the pork company of the film's title. This allows the film to bring together a diverse group of characters all hoping to realize the American Dream. Through fake interviews and a day-by-day, blow-by-blow account of all the backstage shenanigans, the film follows a half dozen characters through this cutthroat competition.
The film has an appealing cast and lots of energy but it tends to play out like a predictable sitcom. Behind the broad comedy, Acharya tries to make serious points about identity, assimilation, and finding your place in the world. The problem is that there's just nothing special about the film. It's never as fresh as Guest's film can be at their best.
Loins of Punjab feels like an Americanized version of a Bollywood comedy. The musical numbers are tame and the story plays out along predictable comic lines.
Companion viewing: Om Shanti Om, American Dreamz, Waiting for Guffman