Tag Archives: Mirch

Streaming Video News: August 14, 2020

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the addition of Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, a new biopic starring Janhvi Kapoor as the first woman to fly in combat for the Indian Air Force. An uplifting film to catch while you can is 2015’s Dhanak, which expires from Netflix on August 20. Two siblings trek across Rajasthan on foot hoping to find Shah Rukh Khan, who they believe can cure the little boy’s blindness. It’s really, really good.

Netflix also released the trailer for the new Original series Masaba Masaba, a fictionalized version of the life of fashion designer Masaba Gupta (daughter of actress Neena Gupta). Both Gupta women star in the series, and the trailer highlights a few celebrity guest cameos.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with dozens of Indian films added in the last week, including a bunch of Hindi titles from Reliance Entertainment and Shemaroo Entertainment. Here are the ones I’ve reviewed:

If you watch any of these movies, make it Love Story 2050. The vision for the future laid out in this sci-fi flick Priyanka Chopra wishes we’d all forget is hilarious in the worst possible ways. I’d have to re-watch it to be sure, but it might qualify as “so bad, it’s good.”

Vidyut Jammwal’s new action flick Khuda Haafiz debuted on Hotstar today. The streamer also unveiled the trailer for Sanjay Dutt’s Sadak 2, which premieres on August 28.

Movie Review: Mirch (2010)

2.5 Stars (4 Stars)

Buy the DVD at Amazon

Mirch (“Chili Pepper”) stands out from other Bollywood fare because of its subject matter: women’s sexuality. It’s a topic that makes some people skittish, yet Mirch addresses it with a sense of humor. However, the otherwise amusing movie fails to reach its full potential.

The movie is actually a series of four short stories — two set in the ancient past, two set in modern times — held together by a framing device. A rookie screenwriter, Maanav (Arunoday Singh), can’t find anyone willing to buy his original screenplay because the subject matter is deemed too dark and not “sexy” enough. So Maanav comes up with another plan: turn four stories from the ancient Panchatantra into a film.

The four stories all feature sexually liberated women who use their wits to get the better of their jealous, promiscuous spouses. Maanav’s girlfriend, a movie editor named Ruchi (Shahana Goswami), convinces her producer boss Nitin (Sushant Singh) to listen to Maanav’s pitch, even though it appears Nitin has his own designs on Ruchi.

The four stories unfold as Maanav’s narration gives way to cinematic depiction, starting with the two historical vignettes. First is the story of a frisky wife (Raima Sen) whose manual laborer husband becomes suspicious of her eagerness to hop in the sack with him.

Second is a story of a young bride (Konkona Sen Sharma) married to an impotent old king. The bride is desperate to lose her virginity, and she chooses a young courtier (also played by Arunoday Singh, who appears in two other stories as well) to do the deed. However, the courtier will only consent if the bride agrees to do it in front of her husband.

The characters in the “real life” storyline acknowledge a need for stories set in modern times, shifting the time period forward for the final two stories. Sen returns in the third story as another devoted wife whose husband (Shreyas Talpade) tests her fidelity. Sharma likewise returns for the fourth vignette, as a wife who catches her husband (Boman Irani) trying to cheat on her.

All of the stories start with straightforward premises but end with a twist: either the wife turns the tables on her husband, or she was hiding a secret all along. In every case, the stories acknowledge the fact that women have their own desires apart from fulfilling their husbands needs. Sen and Sharma carry the movie, playing their characters as provocative rather than overtly sexual.

While the vignettes have their charms, the framing device is uneven. The interludes between the mini-movies seem to be driving toward a love triangle finale that would force Ruchi to choose between Maanav and Nitin. A new character is introduced at the last minute, seemingly invalidating the implication that Nitin was ever interested in Ruchi.

Mirch also makes the unfortunate mistake of putting a character in blackface. When the husband in the third story dons a disguise in order to seduce his wife, he covers his skin in dark makeup. It’s a crude attempt at humor that’s loaded with racist undertones. A wig and a fake mustache would have been sufficient.

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