dir. Danny Baron
When an American rom-com musical elects to call itself Basmati Blues, there’s no pretending it’s going to be anything other than insipid racist garbage. Perhaps there’s a noble intent somewhere in there to emulate the spectacle and glamour of Bollywood, but Basmati Blues trades in any mere hope of spectacle or glamour for relentless mundanity and unpleasantness. Our heroine Linda (Brie Larson, for some reason) is journeying to India to sell a new type of self-propagating rice on behalf of her corporate overlords, completely damning the local farmers in the process. It’s assumed that poor Linda is but an unwitting pawn in a bigger, crueler game – until it’s made abundantly clear that she knows she’s eviscerating a community and she’s absolutely fine with it. Her burgeoning love story with local man Rajit (Utkarsh Ambudkar) is consequently founded on little but deceit, manipulation, and general abrasive bickering. Basmati Blues is supposed to be a musical, but the songs are unbelievably tuneless and uninspired. “But love is blind / And I don’t mind / If we fumble in the dark / Two love songs / One big foolish heart”, bleats one particularly idiotic duet. Of course, the movie’s portrayal of India is condescending at best, irredeemably offensive at worst; the same idiotic duet croons “If I had a hundred arms…” because the movie enjoys doubling down on its fundamental premise that Indians are weird and their gods are weird. No wonder Linda merrily subscribes to the Emily in Paris model of not bothering to learn any shred of the customs or languages of the place she’s inhabiting for an extended period of time. There is no blues music in Basmati Blues, so the title is unfathomable – unless it’s supposed to be indicative of the audience’s mental state after watching such an egregious mess.