Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 29th 2015 Contents A29
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So a rich Indian chick engaged to a studly,
rich Briton of Indian descent throws it all
way for a ukulele-wielding dreadlocked
singer---and they sing and dance at Maracas
happily ever after. Where but Bollywood?
Trinidad, that s where.
This is the premise and denouement of the
Machel Montano s (and Indiepelago Produc-
tions) latest project, Bazoodee the movie,
where British-born/Sri-Lankan actress Natalie
Perera, plays Anita, Staz Nair plays the hunk,
and Montano slings the ukulele.
It s a fascinating movie stylistically and oth-
erwise even though the director (Todd Kessler)
is an American. On one hand, if looked at
with the expectation of an American or British
romantic comedy, there would be disappoint-
ment, but that s not the only way to look.
There s the Trinidadian way of looking, and
the Indian way of looking.
As one of the producers said at the premiere
at MovieTowne last Wednesday, in Trinidad
are a million people, in India, it s a billion who
like movies, and the movie is evidently pitched
So it relies on Bollywood conventions---
trifles like plot arcs and fully developed char-
acters, and subtleties like pace, inner lives,
and back-stories, are weakly developed. Present
are pre-existent types engaging in an almost
ritualistic set of pre-programmed actions.
So the beautiful, virtuous maiden, the indul-
gent papa, the scheming jealous brother, the
faithful servant, the unattractive chubby cousin,
the down-on-his-luck hero---all staples of the
Bollywood (presumably) go through the familiar
motions, and break into song and dance at
regular intervals. The tableaus location in
Trinidad is sufficiently strange to Trinidadian
eyes to be very entertaining, and Montano s
performances and music provide a distraction
from an anaemic plot and sketchy dramatic
This stylistic direction (heavy on formula,
colour and music, easy on dramatic structure)
will likely make it attractive to the Indian cin-
ema audience. But to Trinidadian eyes, there s
something to be said, and see, as well other
than the music.
Because the main role of Anita s father, Ram
is played by the formidable Indian actor Kabir
Bedi, who is unimpeded by the ethnic baggage
that characterises the relations between rich
Indians and Africans (and poor Indians), the
movie has an unexpectedly innocent quality
It provides a chance to see what Trinidad
would look like with an alternative imagined
geography/demography, which is characterised
by no consciousness of racial difference. Also,
Indo characters are the majority and Afro
characters are fewer and there is no trace of
racial tension between them. It s also an inter-
esting glance into an alternate reality where
south of the Caroni is the dominant visual
position, but in this movie, there s no Caroni
and no East West corridor and Pigeon Point
is driving distance from Port-of-Spain.
Only in one place is it acknowledged that
there is an ethnic issue, in the bizarre moment
of crisis when the heroine tells the hero she
got involved with him as a bet, to "hook up
with a black man".
The hero doesn t believe it, and neither did
I, since there s nothing before or after the
moment that gives it credibility. However, it s
Bollywood, so, I guess, it s OK. Cue song and
The strongest points of the movie are Mon-
tano s on-stage moments, but that s no sur-
prise. If the movie is a vehicle for his music,
a billion Indians buying Montano s music and
looking forward to more joint-venture Trinida-
dian movies is nothing to sneeze at.
The movie s better points acknowledged,
however, its shortcomings are considerable.
Much more could have been done with the
resources put into Bazodee. In the first place,
filmmakers have to understand that you can t
get it all in in a 90-minute movie. One on
side you have a domestic love-story; on the
other, it s Carnival time, and nationalistic
imperatives (I presume) insist on a certain
amount of the movie s precious 90 minutes
be given to it. And on yet another side, there
are the imperatives of art---the three-act struc-
ture and development and resolution of the
The final set of imperatives are not met.
The script s resources are too thinly spread
between characters, festival, and trying to
please everybody to do justice to anybody.
Conflict drives good stories, and the conflicts
are too flimsy here.
Fortunately, Montano s music props it up.
Bedi s presence and gravitas seem almost out
of place in the fragile fiction, and Montano s
talents, prodigious as they are, do not include
skill as an actor.
This needn t necessarily interrupt his ambi-
tions. Who, looking at Will Smith in the Fresh
Prince, would have believed Ali and The Pursuit
of Happyness were in his future? But a better
model for Montano might be Prince, and Pur-
ple Rain, a movie that itself is weak on plot
and arc, but is held together by Prince s music
and personality so well, 30 years later you can
still look at it with great enjoyment.
The reason the move to film worked for
Smith and Prince (and many others) has every-
thing to do with two four-letter words Mon-
tano might consider: risk and edge.
Will Smith didn t become an actor till Six
Degrees of Separation, a risky proposition for
his rap audience. Purple Rain as a vehicle for
his music and personality was outrageous
because Prince went all in, and it worked. It
established Prince in a firmament of his own
so securely, not even Under the Cherry Moon
could dislodge him.
As it is, movie-Machel survives the notion
that he seduces a woman (any kind of woman)
A film about Philippe Petit's high-wire
walk between the twin towers of the
World Trade Center has had its world
premiere in New York.
Robert Zemeckis' film The Walk,
starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Petit,
was the opening night film of the New
York Film Festival on Saturday. The film
charts Petit's efforts to tightrope
between the towers in 1974. Mixed
reviews have seen critics call the film
both a "glimmering dream" and "wholly
false". Petit's tale was first committed to
film in James Marsh's award-winning
2008 documentary Man on Wire.
Zemeckis' film uses 3D and visual
effects to capture the daredevil crossing
between the North and South towers---
and opens next month with a nine-day
run in Imax theatres. "Robert Zemeckis'
glimmering dream of a film, which opens
the 2015 New York Film Festival, takes
two buildings that have become
emblematic of everything that's
frightening and uncertain about 21st
century life in the West and redeems
them," writes Robbie Collin in the Daily
Telegraph. "When the walk itself
begins...everything else---the earlier
scenes, the screen, the cinema---just
melts away," he continues. "Petit is up
there and so are you." (BBC)
Bazoodee: The ukulele gets the girl
Twin Towers film draws mixed response from critics
Machel Montano and Natalie Perera in a scene from the movie Bazodee.
"The reason the move to film worked for Smith and Prince (and many
others) has everything to do with two four-letter words Montano might
consider: risk and edge... As it is, movie-Machel survives the notion that
he seduces a woman (any kind of woman) in Bazodee with a ukulele, but
only just. It's not something you can get away with twice in a career."
Continues on Page A30
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