Four aimless friends in Los Angeles’s Little India neighborhood rob a grocery store in the goofy heist movie Four Samosas. A well-established sense of place and likeable characters make this indie comedy a delight to watch.
Life came to a standstill for Vinny (Venk Potula) when his girlfriend Rina (Summer Bishil) broke up with him. That was three years ago. He works in a sari shop, still wearing his old gym uniform from middle school. His confidence is so low that he won’t share his rap lyrics with anyone but his younger cousin and biggest fan, Nikki (Maya Kapoor).
When he finds out that Rina is engaged to a manure salesman from India named Sanjay (Karan Soni), Vinny comes up with a plan: steal the diamonds that are set aside to pay for Rina’s wedding. See, Rina’s dad (played by Tony Mirrcandani) is one of the neighborhood big shots. He owns a grocery store, which makes him rich — at least by comparison to Vinny and his friends.
Vinny gathers a crew of oddballs to help him steal the diamonds from the grocery store safe, tailoring his reasons for the theft to the person. He appeals to his wannabe actor buddy Zak (Nirvan Patnaik) out of friendship. He convinces the “under-over-achiever” Anjali (Sharmita Bhattacharya) that some of the money will go to charity (although she’s really just interested in spending time with her crush, Zak). Finally, there’s Paru (Sonal Shah) — a “malcontent engineer” who’s eager to wreak havoc while she waits in endless limbo for her green card.
The world in Four Samosas is tiny, no bigger than the neighborhood where the characters work and live. It’s the reason why Vinny can convince himself that stealing from Rina’s dad will help him achieve whatever it is he thinks it will achieve. It also makes the obstacles to the plan very local and small potatoes, from neighbors putting on a play about King Ashoka to another group of slackers petitioning to build an independent South Asian state on an empty piece of land near the railroad tracks.
Even if it’s not strictly realistic, Four Samosas feels authentic. The character growth driving the whole story — Vinny needs to either confess his love to Rina or move on — is modest enough to suit the setting.
The real treats in Four Samosas are the performances. Everyone understands the assignment and executes, but there are a few standouts. Maya Kapoor’s shouty, pizza-centric rap audition as Cousin Nikki is bonkers. Samrat Chakrabarti has an amazing cameo in a double role as Sunny and Salim: characters from a fictitious movie about twin brothers separated at birth who avenge their mother’s death.
But the absolute star of Four Samosas is Sharmita Bhattacharya. She is hysterical as Anjali, and every line is delivered for maximum laughs. The movie is very good, but she’s simply fantastic.