unIndian. Starring Tanishta Chatterjee, Brett Lee, Arka Das, Maya Sathi, Sarah Roberts, Adam Dunn, Nicholas Brown, John Howard, Tiriel Mora, Anupam Sharma. Directed by Anupam Sharma. Rated M. 102 minutes.
Local audiences may not know that there is an Australian Indian film foundation. It is Australian-based and, the company hopes that this film will be popular with Australian audiences, and, of course, with Indians who have settled in Australia. It is to be hoped that it will be popular in India but it does tackle some social problems that may be too much sometimes for Indian censorship.
Not that the film needs much censorship. Rather, it is a very cheerful film which provides quite a number of laughs, quite a number of emotional moments, does send up some of the stereotypes of Indian in-laws as well of Ocker Australians.
One of the key publicity aspects for both Australia and India is the fact that it stars veteran test cricketer, Brett Lee. While Lee has his done a number of commercials, he is not generally thought of as a movie leading man. Actually, he is quite a pleasant screen presence, cheerful, genial, and his romancing is quite credible.
The film spends a lot of time with Meera and her 10-year-old daughter, Smitha. Meera has settled well in Australia, works as an executive for the firm Cochlera which promotes cochlear implants for hearing impaired people – and Cochlear is one of the sponsors of the film (with Brett Lee, in fact, as its international ambassador). Meera’s parents are of the old school, her mother busy ritually incensing a new house, planning to marry her daughter off to a surgeon (Indian background of course) and interfering in a stereotypical way. Her father is low key, less prone to action.
Brett Lee teaches a course at the University of New South Wales (well promoted in the film – for prospective students – and also a sponsor of the movie.). His course is a specialty, on Australian culture, training the overseas students to immerse themselves in Australian culture, vocabulary, accents and pronunciations – and quite a few funny scenes concerning Australian slang and, especially, the pronunciation of the word mate with its difficult vowel for newcomers to the country. There is a little drama of the department wants to axe the course – and the media comes to the rescue in the form of coverage by SBS.
It’s one of those love at first sight stories, at least on Brett Lee’s part. He seems to be meeting Meera all over the place, at an Indian celebration with people blowing paint all over each other, at some cricket practice, and then doing camera work for his close friends, TK and Mitch, for a TV series on cooking.
So, this is a film about courting, about parental disapproval, about coffee and romance.
Towards the end, there are some more serious themes, especially about Meera’s ex-husband and the fact that he is gay and the issue of his coming out, of his wanting to abduct his daughter and take her back to India – and there is some apprehension on the part of the film makers that this may not be too welcome in India and might damage the film’s distribution.
Be that as it may, this is a film that for audiences wanting an easy night out will be easy to enjoy and get some laughs. And, maybe, Brett Lee will get to do another film!
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Friends India Entertainment
October 15, 2015